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Top 10 Steampunk and Dieselpunk Games for the PC

by: sinisterporpoise ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Steampunk and dieselpunk are genres that feature the technology of a world that could have been but never was. Because of the similarities between the styles of the subgenres, they have been grouped together here.

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    What is the Difference Between Steampunk and Dieselpunk?

    WWI aviator -- one icon of dieselpunk   Steampunk has evolved its own culture. The culture has fashions that include brass goggles, Victorian styles and the web comic Girl Genius. (The Victorian styles are not technically necessary for steampunk, as the genre focuses more on the technology than the background.) Steampunk came from cyberpunk. Steampunk, in turn, gave birth to Dieselpunk.

    Finding a list of steampunk video games can be difficult, but many video games fall under the dieselpunk category. Because of the lack of games in this genre, both subgenres were included when compiling this lists.

    Two primary differences exist between a steampunk and dieselpunk. Dieselpunk uses oil; steampunk uses steam. The second major difference is the attitudes towards technology each genre takes. The brass-powered technology belies an optimism towards technology that mirrors that attitudes found in the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Science can solve all of mankind-problems in a steampunk setting. Residents of a dieselpunk setting view technology differently. World War I or a similar catastrophe caused people to change their view about science being able to solve all the problems of mankind. Technology and science are tools for residents of this world. Like any other tool, they can be used for evil or good.

    Dieselpunk can be optimistic, as it is in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, or it can be horrific at it is in Dark City and Mad Max.

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    #1. Top Dieselpunk and Steampunk Game: Final Fantasy VII

    Final Fantasy VII PC Box   The basic plot of Final Fantasy VII references dieselpunk's roots in Cyberpunk. Shinra is an apathetic and amoral corporation whose main concern is their bottom line. Shinra's control of Mako energy will have far-reaching implications for the planet, but not so much as its human experiments.

    Final Fantasy VII cannot decide which genre it belongs to at times. The robots in the game run definitely give the impression of running on gas engines, and Cloud's motorcycle has become a icon. The art-deco style and the gas-powered technology are better defined in the PSP prequels to Final Fantasy VII.

    Even if MMORPG players will curse the game for the number of Sefirofs, Sethiroths, and any number of phonetic variations of Sephiroth it brought into the world, it remains the best dieselpunk game made, and in fact, one of the greatest role playing games ever made.

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    #2. Bioshock

    bioshock pcbox   Ayn Rand could have conceived the premise of Bioshock. The underwater city of Rapture certainly sounds a lot like the community developed by the heroes of Atlas Shrugged. The similarities between Bioshock and Atlas Shrugged end with their founding ideals. The founder of Rapture wanted to bring the best and the brightest to the city to work on science in a place that would be free of restrictive laws. The residents quickly found out that some laws are a good thing long before the hero arrives in the city. A plane crash starts the story for a shooter that is one of the most intriguing mysteries in any shooter.

    The art-deco style and the audio and video logs place Bioshock in the dieselpunk category. Some items found in Bioshock have a steampunk feel. The player must figure out what went wrong before he can escape this Utopia gone awry.

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    #3 Top Diselpunk and Steampunk Games: Warcraft III

    warcraft III cover   All of the Warcraft games since Warcraft II have included steampunk elements, even if the game feels much more like high-heroic fantasy with a few weird items thrown in. When the units include zeppelins, steam tanks, and gyro copters. With such amazing gadgets present. World of Warcraft includes more fantastic technology. Gnomes provide harm prevention belts and flying machines. Goblins provide a large array of explosives.

    The denizens of show an attitude towards their technology that is more appropriate to dieselpunk. The weapons and other items are soon as useful, but only the most optimistic Azerothian gnome believes that technology will solve all the problems of the world.

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    #4. Fallout 3

    fall out 3 cover art   The 1939 Chicago's world fair showed us the wonders of a future fantastic future whose loss we mourn. The original Fallout also exposed us to a vision of a horrific future that thankfully never did pass. What happens when these two visions combine? You end up with Fallout 3. Bethesda's remake of Interplay's original game can easily be described as Play in the Ruins of the World of Tomorrow, Today! The promoters of the game never decided to use this slogan.

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    #5. Red Alert 2

    red alert 2 box   Red Alert's bizarre and fantastic weaponry give it the feel of both pulp fiction and dieselpunk. The alternate history setting gives it an even broader potential fan base. The chance for a player to use the high-powered tanks, nuclear weapons and other weird-menace style weapons place it firmly in the realm of dieselpunk.

    The storyline from Red Alert suffered horribly. The psychic menace plot became incredibly campy and most players ignore it. Unfortunately, they continued the mistake in Yuri's Revenge.

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    #6. Rise of Nations

    rise of nations   Steampunk enthusiasts who are looking for a strategy game set in the Victorian era will not be disappointed by Rise of Nations. It does not rate higher on this list because it was not quite as fun to play as the real time strategy games listed above it. The experience does not disappoint the player, and you get the opportunity to control nations vying for supremacy in the decades before World War I.

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    #7 Top Dieselpunk and Steampunk Games: Wolfenstein

    wolfenstein box   The original Wolfenstein 3D featured a character trying to escape some Nazi strongholds. He may or may not have rescued an artifact of occult power that fell into the hands of the German regime. The latest incarnation of this classic shooter series gives players the opportunity to play with the German resistance.

    Familiar themes return in the latest incarnation of Wolfenstein. The Germans are looking for any secret to turn the tide in a war that they are losing. Instead of storming a castle, however, the hero teams up with the local German resistance who will provide him with a variety of experimental weapons. The series did not set out to be a dieselpunk video game offering, but it fell neatly into it once the limits of the sub genre became clear.

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    #8. Arcanum of Steamworks and Magic Obscura

    arcanum box   The name alone is enough to put Aracuum firmly in the steampunk category. Arcanum's storyline involves a clash between two factions. A magical society's is in decline, and an Industrial revolution sweeps through another society. The storyline revolves around this conflict, and the game starts when the main character's zeppelin crashes. The world which resembles the one describe in Stephen Hunt's Court of the Air gives the game much of its charm.

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    #9. Final Fantasy IX

    final fantasy ix cover art   SquareEnix's Final Fantasy VII included a villain that few could sympathize with. (Few people could sympathize with Cloud Strife's emotional overtones, either.) Final Fantasy IX's tone was happier. Square Enix's decided to return to traditional Final Fantasy themes, but place them in the Steampunk world. Kuja may not be remembered as much as Sephiroth, but he is a far more sympathetic villain than Sephiroth.

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    #10. Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge

    crimson skies box   Airtight Games worked on this series which includes and a PC title and an Xbox title. High Road to Revenge included less plane customization but far more weird menaces than its predecessor. The Fortune Hunters, led by Nathan Zachary must stop a fascist bent on world domination from testing his weather control machine on Chicago. The only draw back was that there was no sequel, unless you count Dark Void.


  • Pictures: From the box of each game or from the game itself

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