The best cyberpunk games that aren’t Cyberpunk 2077 [August 2022]


The best cyberpunk games let you explore gorgeous, futuristic worlds, but you’re not supposed to like it.


Coalescing in the hyper-capitalist ‘80s with the likes of Blade Runner, Robocop, Akira and Neuromancer, the Cyberpunk genre has its fibre-optic roots in similarly prophetic works from as far back as the ‘60s, including the original 1968 Phillip K. Dick short story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, that Blade Runner is based on.


Like a chair or a sandwich, Cyberpunk can be hard to definitively define, but you know it when you see it.


Common tropes like smog-choked, corporatized dystopian cities, flying cars, extreme wealth disparity, emergent AI and cybernetic body implants and prosthetics all fuse to get to the “high tech, low life” shorthand that’s come to sum up Cyberpunk fiction – as has biting social commentary that shows how these worlds aren’t so different from our own.


In gaming, the highest budget and most prominent recent addition to the canon is Cyberpunk 2077, which on the one bionic hand absolutely nailed a lot of the genre staples that inspired its aesthetic, but was totally ham-fisted in a deeply ironic way on the other.


While the dense, neon-burnt streets of Night City were littered with great stories, over-hype, underbaked systems and the inclusion of some at-best questionable content spoke to a rigidly inflexible internal corporate structure that was too unwieldy to get some of the basic calls correct.


Despite the problems, it’s still a good enough game to be a foregone conclusion on a list of the best Cyberpunk games. So if you’ve not spun up your V and become a Night City legend just yet, then we’ll see you back here in roughly 60-100 hours of play time while you do.

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However, if you’re ready to see what Cyberpunk games are on offer outside of the most obvious choice, here’s how deep the rabbit hole goes.

To keep things from getting too out of hand, we’ve stuck to more modern releases as a closer alternative to Cyberpunk 2077.

The best Cyberpunk games (that aren’t Cyberpunk 2077)


Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

  • Released: 2016
  • Developer: Eidos Montreal
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox, PlayStation


Semi-open world and layered with choices and side quests, despite being the middle entry in what ended up being an unfinished trilogy Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a must-play for any fan of Cyberpunk themes and motifs.


It’s what is classically referred to as an “immersive-sim”: first-person narrative action games that combine elements of stealth games and shooters to emphasise a player-choice led approach to problem solving.


As Adam Jensen, a heavily cybernetically augmented security expert, you stomp around the rain-slick streets of Prague on the trail of the bio-terrorists and shadowy organisations stoking tensions between augmented people and the rest of the population.


It’s a moody, twisty ride through a well-realised world with plenty of vents to sneak through, suspects to interrogate and optional activities to crack.


The first entry in the rebooted series, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, is also well worth playing too. A lot of people even argue it’s the better game, with more impactful choices and dialogue and some more expansive systems that were streamlined in Mankind Divided. However, Human Revolution came out in the era before the modern shooter control blueprint was really nailed down, so the controls really take some getting used to.

And that’s not even mentioning the OG series, which was truly groundbreaking in how your choices affected the storyline in novel, interesting and unexpected ways. But while this has definitely been dumbed-down in the more modern games, the original Deus Ex is really feeling it’s age these days.


The Ascent

  • Released: 2021
  • Developer: Neon Giant
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox, PlayStation


Despite being a twin-stick shooter played from a high camera angle, The Ascent is one of the most beautiful cyberpunk games around thanks to its richly detailed and incredibly lit cityscape that takes heavy cues from Ridley Scott sci-fi and other classic movies.


It leans heavily into the ultra-violent tendencies of the genre, and the gameplay is squelchy, brutal, and an explosive good time.


The Ascent is also a surprisingly deep RPG considering it was made by a small core team of around 12 people, with many distinct playstyles, weapons and stats to juggle, tweak, and master.


GhostRunner

  • Released: 2020
  • Developer: Slipgate Ironwork/One More Level
  • Platforms: PC, Switch, PlayStation, Xbox


Ghostrunner is all about slick, stylised action as you combo acrobatic aerial manoeuvres and parkour tricks to slice your way through expansive, vertigo-inducing levels. As your powers progress, the platforming gets more complicated and varied, including grapples, wall-running, and more bullet-time than the full Matrix quadrilogy.


Plus, where a lot of cyberpunk games are contemplative chin-strokers that require a huge amount of reading and imagination, Ghostrunner stands out as a first-person thrill-ride built with Unreal Engine – so the cool stuff is a bit more up front and centre than some of the other games on this list.


Stray

  • Released: 2022
  • Developer: BlueTwelve Studio
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation


Another newer release that could have flown under your radar as an option, you might know Stray as “the cat game”, but it has a unique perspective on common cyberpunk tropes like technologically advanced dystopia, AI and robotics.


Stray isn’t just one of this year’s most emotive tales – or is it tails – but an intriguing and intricate platformer in its own right, blending cute and cunning into a truly memorable adventure.


The skill screen from Citizen Sleeper

Citizen Sleeper

  • Released: 2022
  • Developer: Jump Over the Edge
  • Platforms: PC, Switch, Xbox


You’re an indentured android on the run, trying to make a new life for yourself on a backwater space station full of crooks, gangsters, corrupt officials and bounty hunters looking to collect the price on your head.


But when your ‘real’ body in a company storage locker light years away back home, what does it mean to be ‘you’ anyway?


Citizen Sleeper combines tabletop RPG-style mechanics (which basically means rolling dice to determine story outcomes) with a chill and atmospheric soundtrack and contemplative ambiance that seamlessly draws you into exploring its vivid story.


SOMA

  • Released: 2015
  • Developer: Frictional Games
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Xbox


Cyberpunk games tend to focus on action, but for a terrifying change of pace, SOMA is a survival horror from the masters of running away and hiding in a corner, Frictional Games.


At the start of SOMA, you’re already dead – or on the way there at least. After a car accident has left you with traumatic brain injury you agree to an experimental treatment. But when you wake up things are very, very wrong.


And if you can keep your wits about you for long enough, there’s a thoughtful examination of the nature of free will, human preservation and consciousness, inspired by Phillip K. Dick, in between the scares.


The investigator speaking to a clan member inside a Chinese-themed MMO in Gamedec

Gamedec

  • Released: 2021
  • Developer: Anshar Studios
  • Platforms: PC, Switch


A brilliant concept well executed, Gamedec sees you fill the boots of a digital gumshoe, solving cyber crimes across a range of metaverse spaces.


Each level you explore is a different video game with different mechanics, rules and ambiance, lending a chaotic variety to your cases that really suits the haphazard jumble of online life.


With plenty of trench coats and techno-babble to set your circuitry ablaze, this is a unique adventure that ticks just about every cyberpunk box you could ask for.


A flying HOVA car roaming the streets of Nivalis in Cloudpunk

Cloudpunk

  • Released: 2020
  • Developer: Ion Lands
  • Platforms: PC, Switch, PlayStation, Xbox


In most cyberpunk games you’re someone exciting, like a mercenary, scientist, or investigator. But what if you just had a normal job, like a delivery driver, scraping together your meagre pay to afford somewhere to live, a hot cup of fake coffee now and then, and a new body for your AI robot dog that isn’t also your car?


So while Cloudpunk doesn’t start off as a pulse-pounding adventure, you quickly find out that no matter how dreary your life is, if you get tangled up with the wrong people things get very hectic, very quickly.


With an interesting voxel art style, discovering the secrets of the city of Nivalis both on foot and in your flying HOVA car is well worth the often discounted price.


A view of inside the bar at The Red Strings Club

The Red Strings Club

  • Released: 2018
  • Developer: Deconstructeam
  • Platforms: PC, Switch

A pixel art narrative adventure with cool characters and tons of personality, The Red Strings Club blends bartending, mood-altering implants and quick-witted conversation into a tale of corporate espionage, playing God and the nature of humanity.


Brief enough to beat in an evening, but powerful enough to leave a lasting impression – this often pops up on Game Pass or in Steam sales for a steal.


Ruiner

  • Released: 2017
  • Developer: Reikon Games
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch


Another isometric twin-stick shooter, Ruiner ramps up the action to a brutal degree as your silent, Schwarzenegger-ian protagonist mows through leagues of gang-bangers, corpo goons and private military to save their kidnapped brother.


Visually and sonically arresting for its entire duration, this Devolver Digital classic nails the aesthetic tropes of cyberpunk perfectly in a satisfyingly tight package that doesn’t overstretch its core ideas.


Death Stranding

  • Released: 2019
  • Developer: Kojima Productions
  • Platforms: PlayStation, PC


Sprawling, unique, strikingly weird and strangely compelling, Hideo Kojima’s first independent outing is as peculiar as they come.


As Sam Porter Bridges, it’s your job to trudge between disparate settlements across the continent and rejoin them as the United Cities of America, taking on pirates, terrorists, and the occasional invisible carnivorous ghost along the way.


But while the acting and script might be as stilted as the original Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, Kojima and co. have lost none of their flair for original, memorable design.

Every contrivance and futuristic vehicle beeps and whirs with a distinct retro sci-fi aesthetic, and even mundane tasks like keeping dry from the rain (which also happens to cause rapid ageing that corrodes your equipment) take on a deadly importance in the isolation of the desolate wasteland.


Just don’t frown too hard at the near incomprehensible storyline, there’s a lot of philosophical meaning behind the time-travelling skeleton man, honest.


Fairlight speaking to the player and Turing in 2064: Read Only Memories

2064: Read Only Memories

  • Released: 2015
  • Developer: Midboss
  • Platforms: PC, Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, Android, iOS


2064: Read Only Memories takes elements of classic adventure games and brings them back to the future in the 21st Century, as you take on the role of a journalist trying to solve the disappearance of eminent roboticist Hayden Webber with the help of their greatest creation, a sentient android named Turing.


Like most great adventure games this one is all about the soundtrack and story, as you brute force brain-teasing item puzzles and interact with your environment to advance the serpentine plot.


Jill speaking to the player at the bar in VA-11 Hall-A

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

  • Released: 2016
  • Developer: Sukeban Games
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Switch, Vita

In VA-11 Hall-A, you’re the shoulder to cry on for the downtrodden citizens of Glitch City, the only reprieve in an oppressive dystopia controlled by unchecked greed and high-tech surveillance.


If that all sounds a bit depressing, it is and it isn’t. There’s never a dull moment as you craft the perfect drinks for an irreverent cast of hackers, influencers, androids and anthropomorphized corgis.


Shadowrun: Dragonfall

  • Released: 2014
  • Developer: Harebrained Schemes
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, iOS, Android


The Shadowrun series’ unique setting blends your typical cyberpunk corporate dystopia with fairytale creatures like Orcs, Dwarves, Elves and Dragons.


You exist on the fringes of this society, a Shadowrunner, a mercenary hired for dangerous off-the-books wet work by anyone who doesn’t want to leave a trail.


Although it does require a lot of good faith and imagination, Shadowrun’s mix of hard-boiled neo-noir writing and turn-based tactical gameplay is immersive and engrossing with plenty of different characters and companions to get involved with.


There are three more recent entries into the rebooted series, Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Shadowrun: Hong Kong.


All of them are really good, with similar gameplay but different globe-hopping stories set across the world shared by humans and meta-creatures.


Transistor

  • Released: 2014
  • Developer: Supergiant Games
  • Platforms: PC, Switch, iOS, PlayStation


Transistor is vibes in the absolute extreme, combining an ethereal art style with an exceptional soundtrack to create an absolutely breathtaking experience.


All of Supergiant’s games are incredible, and if you’ve played Hades or Bastion you’ll know all about their mastery of evocative characters and meticulous use of music to craft the perfect ambiance for any scenario.


On the gameplay front, you can either choose to take on the robot army of The Process in real-time action, activating your experimental suite of abilities as your enemies explode around you, or you can take the more strategic approach – stopping time to plot out your next move before executing the plan precisely.


Katana ZERO

  • Released: 2019
  • Developer: Askiisoft
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox, Switch


Where the majority of the action games so far have been expansive, 3-D worlds for better and for worse, Katana Zero brings super tight, twitch intensive side-scrolling to the table, with knife-edge one-hit-kill mechanics and time-attack countdowns.


The odds aren’t that stacked against your character, Zero, though. They can slow down time, jump off walls and predict the future, helping them to pin-point a route through their foes with deadly precision.


One of the best things about Katana Zero in relation to other 2-D hack-and-slash games is that it isn’t totally one-paced. Across nearly a dozen levels you’ve got chase sequences, stealthier sections and plenty of dialogue exposition.


Cruelty Squad

  • Released: 2021
  • Developer: Consumer Softproducts
  • Platforms: PC


If you hadn’t guessed by the name, in Cruelty Squad you are definitely the bad guy.


Heading a corporate hit group tasked with dealing with profit-reducing problems by any means necessary, this surreal shooter deals with the dissociative ultra-violence of a world where human life is meaningless and a society that’s content to consume until there’s nothing left.


Technobabylon

  • Released: 2015
  • Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
  • Platforms: PC, iOS


Sometimes there’s not much to recommend a game on other than it’s riveting story, but the mystery at the heart of Technobabylon is anything but simple.


With classic adventure-style gameplay and animation set in a beautifully stylised world, you explore the labyrinthine problems faced by a near-omnipotent AI that controls the city from multiple perspectives.


Exceptionally strong writing, with deep and layered characters, good pacing and plenty of surprises, make this a must-play for narrative fans.


Johnny Turbo takes on some goons in Turbo Overkill

Turbo Overkill

  • Released: 2022
  • Developer: Trigger Happy Interactive
  • Platforms: PC


A recent release still in early access, Turbo Overkill finally answers the age-old question: “what if my leg was a chainsaw I could saw the barrel off a shotgun with?”


Taking heavy inspiration from the Doom-likes, Duke Nukems and Serious Sams of this world, this slippery, explosive shooter sees you turn your destructive talents to ridding the cyber-city of Paradise of AI-controlled cultists in thrall to the sentient AI, Syn.


There’s no greater treat than a well-designed shotgun, and Turbo Overkill goes a long way to capturing the id Software magic of old.


The slick city streets in Huntdown

Huntdown

  • Released: 2021
  • Developer: Coffee Stain Studios
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, Android


Less a straight cyberpunk game and more a love-letter to the ‘80s retro sci-fi action aesthetic with the likes of Blade Runner and Escape from New York headlining its list of inspirations, Huntdown is as engrossing and intense as run-and-gun games get.


A fantastically pure expression of frenetic arcade action with an over-the-top synthwave soundtrack and more tongue in its cheek than a Lickitung with a nut allergy.


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