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Ten of the best dystopias

Ten of the best dystopias

Dystopias, anti-utopias, caco-utopias: basically we mean “places which are really messed up”. Technically then, this should be a 10 of the Worst, but we can’t help loving these badboys.


City 17
Half Life 2

A hauntingly beautiful city filled with terrified inhabitants and under the iron rule of an oppressive regime, City 17 ticks all the dystopia boxes with gusto. The personality of the city helps make the game what it is, and without it Half Life 2 might have floundered somewhat.


Washington DC
Fallout 3

It’s easy to go straight to the fact that this is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, full of marauding raiders and murderous mutants, but that would be ignoring the history of Fallout’s world. The vaults are social experiments, nuclear war was expected and people were systematically chosen to survive or not. Chilling.


The World
Syndicate Wars

As head of Eurocorp it was your job to quell dissent, halt uprisings and kill anyone who had any thought of letting the citizens of the world think for themselves or disabling their Utopia chips, implanted in their brains. Wonderfully, not only was it a dystopia: it was your dystopia.


Final Fantasy VII

A literal divide between the rich and poor saw Midgar’s less fortunate citizens living under giant metal plates in slums, while the toff brigade were privy to benefits like the sky. The fact that many poor died, crushed by a falling plate, is the icing on a particularly dystopian cake.


Liberty City
Grand Theft Auto

It would be easy to pick any of GTA’s cities for inclusion, but the original is still the best, as shown in the latest and greatest of Rockstar’s violent epics. Crime is endemic, the police are laughable and the city is controlled by the monied few. It’s real life, basically.


The World (again)
Deus Ex

Deus Ex’s prophetic sight of a New York skyline without the twin towers on its release in 1999 may only have been a coincidence, but how long until corporations, governments and black ops units control the world in its entirety? They already do, according to some. But they’re mental people.


Red Faction/RF:Guerrilla

So yes it is a direct rip-off of Total Recall in almost every way, but the point stands and is one that keeps us up at night: when mining operations finally do open up on Mars, we’re not going to rush to apply. Especially not if Michael Ironside is there.


The City
Mirror’s Edge

We’re not actually sure what the city is called – Ubiquitous or Mirror City popped up on a quick search – but the fact remains that this is one clean, shiny dystopia. Where once was life, there is no more and people have reverted to physical communication to avoid invasive surveillance.



One man’s utopian vision that fell apart in the hands of the greedy, the stupid and the selfish, Rapture had us… enraptured from the very moment we set eyes on it. While Mirror’s Edge has the cleanliness, Bioshock trumps it with the real ‘wow’ factor. Along with the Big Daddies.


Beyond Good and Evil

It looks idyllic, but Hillys is very much a world under threat. While it may initially look like the Alpha Sector are there to help, it soon becomes clear they are nothing more than the cogs of a military dictatorship, hell bent on keeping the populace in line. Lovely stuff.

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  • Garan

    What about Helgan,or Empire City?