The steampunk city concept has been, slowly but steadily, invading the gaming industry. This fact comes as no surprise due to the steampunk’s originality and limitless imagination. The genre is a combination of the Victorian era together with fictional gadgets and machinery that run on steam power. To put it bluntly, It is a futuristic industrial revolution in a retro steam-powered society of technological geniuses.
Compared to other sci-fi genres, however, steampunk is not as hot and frequently present in video games. Nevertheless, there is a huge fan community steaming with love and passion for the genre. As one of those steampunk art admirers, I’ve decided to shortlist the video games with the most immersive and beautiful steampunk city ambiance. So, let the tour begin!
#1 Tarant (Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura)
The world of Arcanum is a great example of steampunk art as it’s the closest fictional interpretation of the Victorian era.
The capital Tarant is the largest and most technologically advanced city in Arcanum. It owns the largest underground railway system and the biggest port and ships. Still, just like London in the 19th century, It also suffers from discrimination, poverty and socio-economic inequality.
Despite the old-school graphics, Tarant remains one of the best examples of a steampunk city due to its original steam technology and machinery.
If you wish to indulge yourself in the steam world of Arcanum, its story will guide you through an industrial revolution journey, where you will face the consequences of technological progress, both positive and negative.
#2 Dunwall (Dishonored)
Originally, Dunwall used to be a fishermen’s city, focusing on whaling and fishing. After revolutionary technological progress, however, the city underwent an industrial transformation.
In gameplay times, Dunwall is a massive industrial city located on the island of Gristol. Most of the island is rural, green and cloaked by misty fogs that give a dark and enigmatic ambiance to the land. The architectural design of the city draws inspiration mainly from industrial London and Edinburgh, as well as some American and British whaling cities which used to exist in the 19th century.
As a protagonist of Dishonored, you will be faced with a dark fable of conspiracy, in a city overwhelmed by a rat plague and extreme social class division. Despite the mortal threats, you will seek vengeance and try to protect what’s most important to you.
#3 Columbia (Bioshock Infinite)
Columbia is a sky city in Bioshock Infinite, floating above the North American continent. Unlike other cities, its ambiance is rather warm and welcoming (at least at first sight). Columbia’s building design is heavily influenced by American colonial and neoclassical architecture which are characterized by enormous buildings with epic columns and simple geometric forms. The city transportation system is breathtaking as well, made up of floating gondolas, colorful zeppelins and an original rail system.
As the main male protagonist of this game, you’ll be heavily indebted and forced to search for a mysterious and powerful woman. Together you will journey through the city of Columbia and unveil its twisted secrets.
#4 The City aka The Eternal City (Thief)
While the technology in Thief is not awe-inspiring, its city definitely has a Victorian feel to it.
The autonomous city-state extends on an island and partly on the mainland coast. Because of its location, there is a huge port, as well as numerous bridges connecting the island with the mainland.
The Eternal City is not foreign to disaster and pain. Plagues, death and wars have destroyed it multiple times, leading to its repetitive resurrection. Many of the buildings lay on the remains of previous constructions. As a result, there is a whole underground world made of passages and chamber networks, called the Hidden City.
As the cunning thief Garrett, you will have to sneak through the dark corners of the city and become its shadow, climbing roofs and breaking into people’s homes to steal their shiny belongings. Despite how repetitive this sounds, the game has a mysterious main story and it’s worth exploring.
#5 London (The Order 1886)
While the frequent fogs and rain of London are no fiction, the impressive railway structures, interior design and powerful steampunk weaponry make this Neo-Victorian city worth admiring.
In this dark and misty version of London, the advanced technological progress derives from the necessity for survival. A genetic evolution results in the creation of half-breeds (werewolves) who lurk in the city and pray on citizens.
The gameplay in The Order: 1886 can be a little annoying as it requires perfect stealth and pressing the right button at the right time. Nevertheless, the long cutscenes and the objects inspection option can give you enough time to recollect your thoughts and enjoy the steampunk city.
#6 The City (Machinarium)
Machinarium is an award-winning indie game, whose art and originality have earned the approval of many steampunk fans. The City is old and rusty but it’s fully functional. It gets its power source from electricity, water and other resources. The buildings are tall and nested within each other, creating a fascinating landscape. Additionally, the city is quite unique for its strange robot inhabitants and secluded location. From the look of it, it seems as if it is hidden in the caldera of an ancient volcano.
If you’d like to immerse in the old and decaying world of Machinarium, you will have to play as Josef the robot, whose beloved girlfriend Berta has been kidnapped by the underworld Black Cap Brotherhood gang.
And Why Not Build Your Own Steampunk City? (Frostpunk)
What can be more beautiful than building your own steampunk world with Frostpunk? If you feel inspired and the endless winter blizzards don’t turn you off, then you can be the savior of humanity and build the last standing city in order to save your people from freezing to death.
During the gameplay, you won’t be able to zoom in much for more detailed observation of your city but you can still have a top view of your creation and control things from there.