BioShock is one of those one-of-a-kind games that comes out of nowhere, flips old gaming tropes upside down, and introduces various new innovative game mechanics and design choices that help it stand out as a very unique release that will be played and replayed for years to come.
But we could literally sing BioShock’s praises for hours, so we’re going to save that for another article. In this one, we’re going to be listing some of the best games similar to BioShock that have been released so far, not including the rest of the BioShock series.
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
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System Shock 2
When it came out, BioShock was hailed as the spiritual successor to System Shock 2, and seeing as System Shock 2 had Ken Levine as the lead designer, you can guess why the two games are so similar in many respects.
System Shock 2 is characterized by a gritty cyberpunk aesthetic and features action RPG and survival horror elements, much like BioShock. However, System Shock 2 has much more expansive RPG mechanics, making it feel closer to an actual RPG rather than an FPS with RPG elements sprinkled on top.
System Shock 2 is available on Windows, so you can play it anytime, but it was recently announced that an Enhanced Edition is in development, and it should help make the game work properly with new hardware, it will deliver updated multiplayer functionality, and it should also iron out some flaws with the original release.
Moreover, it’s worth mentioning that the original System Shock from 1994 will be getting a full remake soon, which is great news. Naturally, the original is still worth playing, but it might be a bit too retro for younger generations of gamers, so the remake should do a good job of breathing new life into a classic game.
The 2017 reimagining of Prey is probably the most BioShock game since BioShock, at least from a gameplay standpoint, seeing as it features many of the design elements and mechanics that made BioShock standout.
Prey is set on a conventional-looking space station, which doesn’t leave quite as lasting of an impression like Rapture does, though it does a good enough job of providing a similar atmosphere, and the story is also quite similar in tone. The enemies are not as memorable as the Splicers and there is, sadly, the same lack of variety on this front, but the gameplay mechanics ultimately help the game from growing repetitive.
Namely, Prey doesn’t feature many conventional weapons, and most of the depth is provided by Neuromods, which are essentially Prey’s version of plasmids. Neuromod abilities are actually more varied, and they can drastically change the player’s playstyle – it’s possible to focus on stealth to avoid or ambush enemies, manipulate tech equipment, wield various offensive and defensive psychic abilities, and more.
All in all, with its open-ended level design and a multitude of approaches that the player can take depending on which Neuromods they choose, the game has a lot of replay value. And in that respect, Prey is actually even better than BioShock. But as mentioned above, the visual design and story presentation don’t “pop” as much as BioShock’s do.
Dishonored is primarily a stealth game, but even though it might not feature as much gunplay as BioShock does, the game’s protagonist is equipped with an array of abilities that definitely feel a lot like plasmids. On top of that, Dishonored also takes place in a comparably bleak world, and it’s steampunk aesthetic is pretty effective at helping it stand out.
Overall, when you combine the aforementioned abilities with the game’s many semi-open levels, there’s a lot of replay value. The combat is a mix of melee and ranged weapons/abilities, so while there isn’t as much gunplay as there is in BioShock, the combat of Dishonored is executed quite well in its own right.
In addition to the original game, there are also Dishonored 2 and Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, which essentially do what sequels usually do – they add new content, improve upon the foundation set by the original in various ways, so they are worth playing, too.
SOMA was developed by Frictional Games, the studio behind the classic Amnesia: The Dark Descent. That said, SOMA is a horror game that doesn’t have a combat system and focuses mostly on story and exploration.
The game takes place on a derelict underwater research station, so you can see why it has BioShock-esque vibes. The subject matter the story deals with has some similar themes, too, though the oppressive atmosphere is what makes the game so similar to BioShock.
If you’re not into this type of horror game and don’t like stealth and/or having to run away from unbeatable monsters, the developers have included an easy mode which makes the enemies harmless, so you can essentially play through the game as if it were your run-of-the-mill walking sim. Of course, we don’t recommend this, as the enemy encounters are very important to building tension and atmosphere, but as we’ve already said, you can skip them if they’re just not your cup of tea.
Dead Space came out soon after the original BioShock, and while its third-person view and gameplay mechanics make it more akin to Resident Evil 4 than BioShock, the atmosphere and exploration can definitely give off BioShock vibes.
Now, Dead Space is a much more graphic and horror-oriented experience than BioShock. It is set on a derelict space ship and features a cast of diversely grotesque Necromorph enemies which are an absolute joy to slaughter and dismember. However, no matter how gratifying the action and gore might get, Dead Space is a survival horror game, so the player needs to count their shots and pick appropriate weapons for handling different kinds of enemies.
Ultimately, this is hardly the most BioShock-like game out there, but if you liked the oppressive atmosphere and survival horror elements in BioShock, you’ll probably appreciate Dead Space – and if you’re a fan of the Resident Evil series, you’ll appreciate it even more!
We Happy Few
We Happy Few is a game with a lot of thematic and aesthetic similarities to BioShock, as it takes place in a dystopian society that is in the process of collapsing due to the rampant abuse of a drug that changes people’s perception of the world, all the while the events of the game take place in the 1960s.
However, unlike BioShock, the game features three different playable characters who have different playstyles, with a heavier accent on survival horror elements, which also includes a bigger focus on stealth. Moreover, some of the game’s environments are procedurally generated, which can make some of the environments feel a bit generic.
All things considered, while the game is not an action-heavy shooter like BioShock and has received generally mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, it’s still worth trying out if you’re after more BioShock-esque content. Granted, it’s nowhere near BioShock’s level, but if you’re into this type of game and like BioShock’s aesthetic, then you just might enjoy it.
And those would be our picks for the best BioShock-like games that you can try out! If you feel that there are some other titles that deserve a mention, would you kindly let us know in the comments so that we can expand the list?