Cyberpunk: a dark vision of the future in which technology has shaped social order. The thematic concept of “high tech low life” was first pioneered by authors such as William Gibson and Philip K. Dick with their respective novels Neuromancer and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Blade Runner), but the genre has since spilled over to other mediums including video games, resulting in some of the most grimly fascinating and atmospheric games of all-time.
More grounded than far flung futuristic science fiction, cyberpunk typically paints a bleak, noir vision of humanity, as a result of the negative impact of iterations of our contemporary science such as cybernetics and information technology. In this way, their dystopian settings often feel entirely relatable; a dreary existence that only takes a little imagination to see how easily it could become a reality, and indeed, cyberpunk typically draws parallels with today’s consumerist,capitalist society.
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Cyberpunk’s philosophical questioning of science and technology’s impact on society not only makes for interesting conversation, but it also provides a terrific premise for interactive entertainment. Themes such as augmented humanity, corporate greed, information control and surveillance create a wonderful premise for video game narrative, and when paired with sentiments of desperation, fear, and poverty, result in an ambiance dripping with tension and mystery.
Sadly, despite its fantastic potential, cyberpunk remains somewhat of a niche genre, both in video games and across other forms of media, with more popular genres such as high fantasy and futuristic science fiction dominating pop culture. That being said, there are several games that have incorporated cyberpunk elements into their narrative, and some others that have embraced the concept wholly. And so, in celebration of the recent release of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, arguably the big daddy of cyberpunk in gaming, we’ve compiled a list of 8 essential cyberpunk video games that you need to play.