The thought of being trapped in a future dystopian society plagued by crime, corruption, and endless amounts of suffering is absolutely terrifying from a real-world perspective.
However, in video games, we have the luxury of being able to explore such downtrodden settings without any real consequences beyond getting a bad ending.
In this list, we’ll help you find your next favorite title by highlighting the best dystopian games to play in 2023 on PC and console.
We’ll be updating this list in the future with new titles, so make sure to check back and let us know if we missed any of your favorite games with dystopian settings!
Table of ContentsShow
Golf Club Wasteland
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
Golf is definitely not the first activity that comes to mind when pontificating on life in a dystopian world but Golf Club Wasteland manages to marry the two perfectly.
In it, players explore the desolate ruins of Earth after an apocalyptic event wipes out all of humanity except for the extremely wealthy who flee to Mars.
What little of the planet remains is transformed into a series of golf courses that your character plays through while wearing a spacesuit.
Most of the story is told through the game’s soundtrack, which is presented as an in-universe radio show that plays music and interviews where people reminisce about life on Earth before the disaster.
Platforms: Windows, Nintendo Switch
For a more populated dystopian setting, check out the first-person choose-your-own-adventure game Road 96.
Set during the summer of 1996 in the dystopian nation of Petria where authoritarian rule and oppression have taken root, it casts you as a young and inexperienced hitchhiker.
Longing for a fresh start beyond Petria’s restrictive borders, the player character must rely on the kindness of strangers to get to their final destination.
The game offers a seemingly infinite number of narrative scenarios based on procedurally generation locations, characters, and events that vary with each playthrough.
My Beautiful Paper Smile
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Horror games are ripe with dystopian settings, even if they’re typically confined to a singular town, building, or in the case of My Beautiful Paper Smile, a twisted reeducation facility.
Presented as a psychological horror game with a devilish hand-drawn look, it sees you taking on the role of a child forced to attend a school controlled by masked enemies referred to as “the Authorities.”
To escape, you’ll have to sneak your way around the facility solving puzzles and avoid being detected by the Authorities’ patrols as well as a host of strange creatures lurking in the shadows.
It does a great job of leaning into its unique art style, atmospheric setting, and host of disturbing characters while exploring the more terrifying extremes of life in a dystopian society.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Like many games that had rough launches only to improve through patches, Cyberpunk 2077 has changed a lot since its initial release.
These days, players have a better shot at being able to experience Night City as it was intended, though your mileage may vary depending on the platform.
The game’s futuristic dystopian setting offers an array of cybernetic modifications, flashy weapons, and cool-looking cars to distract you from the onslaught of colorful ads for products from shady megacorps.
Depending on how you look at it, Night City is either a glamorous or harsh depiction of where capitalism is headed; one where violent criminals outnumber police and citizens are superficial to a fault.
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
If you’re one of many people who can’t get Cyberpunk 2077 to run properly on your machine, then consider picking up The Ascent to fulfill your desire to roam around tech-obsessed dystopias.
This twin-stick shooter also features RPG elements and sees you running and gunning your way through a futuristic city occupied by rival factions.
The most notable of them is The Ascent Group, an authoritarian megacorp whose untimely demise creates a power struggle among the local gangs.
Players can take on the challenge of crowning a new king solo or with friends via online/local co-op.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS5
Final Fantasy VII stands out from other games in the series by swapping out the typical medieval fantasy RPG setting and replacing it with the steampunk dystopia we know as Midgar.
The remake takes this even further by upping the graphical fidelity and introducing new visual elements that make Midgar feel more inhabited and realistic.
Narratively, the game explores familiar dystopian themes such as powerful mega-corporations, in this case Shinra, controlling the lives of everyday folk and exploiting them for their own greed.
As a result, the general population is forced to live in depressing conditions and have little to no hope of things ever changing unless Cloud and his team of eco-terrorist insurgents can overthrow Shinra.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Linux, Mac
Set in the year 2036, Metro Exodus is the latest installment in the long-running post-apocalyptic FPS and sees players transported to a war-torn Moscow Metro.
Here, the last remnants of humanity live on beneath the fallout of never-ending nuclear winter, including the game’s protagonist, Artyom.
Convinced there’s still life on the surface outside of Russia, he bands together with a group of Rangers and sets off for the East via a steam-powered locomotive dubbed the ‘Aurora.’
Along the way, players will have to combat mutated creatures, navigate radioactive tunnels, and settle petty disputes between enemy factions while scavenging for supplies and trying to survive.
We Happy Few
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Another open-world game that combines stealth and survival in a dystopian setting is We Happy Few.
Taking place during the 1960s, the story follows three characters as they try to navigate a fictional English city where citizens are forced to take hallucinogenic drugs to rid them of any bad thoughts.
Each protagonist has a unique set of skills and reasons for escaping but can only do so by slipping past the authorities and scavenging for resources.
Overall, it makes for a captivating set-up that meshes well with the game’s groovy 1960s aesthetic and high-stakes gameplay.
Detroit: Become Human
Platforms: Windows, PS4
Detroit: Become Human is a narrative-driven adventure game that takes place during the year 2038 where technology has advanced to produce highly intelligent androids that live to serve human beings.
As you might expect, the main focus of the game is the relationship between humans and androids as well as whether the latter should be allowed the same freedoms as their fleshy counterparts.
You play as three androids with completely different roles and personalities who begin to gain sentience and make choices that often go against their programming.
The game has multiple endings depending on the player’s decisions throughout the story, with each one attempting to grapple with the notion of what happens when technology goes too far.
Platforms: Windows, Nintendo Switch
Next up, Not Tonight is a life sim RPG set in an alternate version of Britain where Brexit talks have collapsed, and an extreme far-right government has risen to power.
You take control of a bouncer assigned to man the doors at pubs, clubs, festivals, and parties throughout the UK, checking IDs, managing guest lists, and preventing partygoers from becoming too unruly.
Outside of gigs, you can use your earnings to upgrade your apartment and purchase new bouncer equipment to tackle new challenges you encounter.
The game does a great job of getting you invested in its politically charged story, often testing how far you’ll go to protect an oppressive regime or defy its rules and fight the system.
Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android
George Orwell’s cautionary tale of a novel 1984 is about as dystopian as they come, so what about a video game created in the same vein?
Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You is a political sim that tasks players with investigating the lives of citizens to weed out the culprits behind a slew of terror attacks.
This is done by accessing internet databases and monitoring citizens’ online activities, including their personal communications, private files, and anything else Big Brother can get its hands on.
As you come across potentially “dangerous” behavior, you’ll have to decide whether to report it or turn a blind eye, potentially risking millions of lives.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android
Beholder is another political sim strategy game that takes place in a dystopian future where privacy is dead and a totalitarian State controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives.
You take on the role of a State-install manager assigned to look over an apartment building and its inhabitants, monitoring their comings and goings and eavesdropping on their conversations.
To be successful, you’ll have to bug tenants’ apartments, search their belongings for any illicit materials, and report any unsavory behavior to the authorities.
At the same time, you have your own family who needs to be looked after and is at the mercy of the State’s rule, lest you go out of your way to risk trying to dismantle the system from the inside.
Platforms: Windows, PS Vita, Linux, Mac, iOS
If you enjoy Orwell and Beholder’s gameplay style, then Papers, Please is another indie game that approaches dystopian life from an interesting perspective.
In it, you’re tasked with checking citizens’ passport documents as they cross the border into the communist state of Arstotzka.
The goal is to sleuth out anyone, particularly rebels, using forged documents to sneak into the country and disrupt the regime.
However, you’re given the option to let it slide or even accept a bribe for entry into the country, in turn putting you and your nation at risk.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Much like We Happy Few and Not Tonight, Wolfenstein: The New Order provides an alternate version of events following one of the darkest stains on humanity’s history.
The story depicts a dystopian 1960s where the Nazis won WWII and managed to establish an omnipresent totalitarian regime across the globe.
Taking on the role of war vet William Blazkowicz, your mission is to destroy the Nazi empire using an arsenal of weapons grounded in both reality and science fiction.
However, expect the enemy to do the same as the Nazis love experimenting with mechanical monsters and super-soldiers who pose a significant threat.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Aside from satisfying any cyberpunk appetite, the Deus Ex series offers an excellent portrayal of dystopian civilizations in the face of advanced technology.
In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you take on the role of a cyber-enhanced hero named Adam Jensen as he investigates the mystery surrounding controversial biological augmentations.
Similar to Cyberpunk 2077, the game explores themes of transhumanism, classism, and the notion of what it means truly means to be human.
Since the outcome is reliant on Jensen’s actions throughout the story, players have a lot of say in how things play out, including the fate of the megacorps, various characters, and the world itself.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mac
While the submerged city of Rapture may have been created with the vision of a utopia in mind, humanity’s obsession with greed and corruption ultimately causes it to become the opposite.
After all, you can only go so long reserving the best resources for the wealthy elite before the lower classes decide to rise up and rebel.
In the case of BioShock, that resource is a highly coveted substance called ADAM, which has played a role in driving the citizens of Rapture mad and plunging the city into chaos.
Only by navigating its dark and treacherous streets can the main character Jack, as well as the player, learn the truth about Rapture’s past and decide its future.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
The Fallout series is predicated on an alternate timeline where humanity was thrust into nuclear warfare during the 1950s and ended up turning the planet into an irradiated wasteland.
Fallout 4 takes place in 2287, about 200 years after The Great War that saw most of mankind eradicated while a lucky few retreated to underground Vaults to wait out the apocalypse.
After emerging from Vault 111, your character sets off on a quest to find their son and avenge their spouse’s murder while encountering a host of characters and retro-future technology along the way.
It doesn’t take long for players to realize this new future is worse off than our current civilization, as mutated monsters, warring factions, and shady institutions seek to profit from humanity’s downfall.