A great number of video games have entered the steampunk genre over the years. This was always going to be the case when you factor in just how many successfully screenwriters and authors have adapted the style to their respective genres. As more games come along, showing off steampunk’s unique aesthetic, it’s all the more interesting to note steampunk evolution since it made itself known within the world of gaming. Here are some of the more well-known steampunk video games throughout the years.
The Eidolon, LucasFilm Games, 1985, PC
This game was among the very first to show off the steampunk aesthetic. Users were tasked toguide The Eidolon through a maze full of villains. As each villain is destroyed, the machine’s dashboard makes a constant whirring sound and brass gauges shift. This provided what was an immersive first-person experience. Should any damage come to the machine, a needle would move closer towards the negative end of the dial. This health bar was a factor in the game’s clear user interface. It also contributed towards the steampunk design. While the game’s environments are simplistic and plain compared to what we’ve come to expect today, the Eidolon looks like it came from a K.W. Jeter novel.
Final Fantasy VI, Square, 1994, SNES
There are numerous steampunk themes in the Final Fantasy series, but this was the very first to incorporate them to such great effect. The game decided to do away with the medieval settings from the earlier titles in the series and instead introduced a world with more advanced technology. With its opera soundtrack, the 19th century fine arts allusions are apparent. The story begins in an environment where magic has been replaced by industry. Towns such as Narsche, Zozo, and Albrook show buildings that appear as they belong in Industrial Revolution Britain. The corridors of the villain’s tower are littered with machines. While magic is key to the story, the title is permeated by Industrial Age design.
Thief: The Dark Project, Looking Glass Studios, 1998, PC
Possibly as a result ofthe sheer amount of environmental interaction in the Thief games, the steampunk theme is incorporated well here. Often regarded as being the first game in the contemporary stealth genre, Thief: The Dark Project positions players where industrial machinery meets medieval architecture. The damp walls show flickering lights as footsteps echo down gothic corridors. Players can extinguish light sources, such as gaslight torches, to ensure they remain out of sight. This makes the lighting effects even more important.