One of the ways people have maintained social distancing this year has been staying inside and playing video games rather than meeting friends in person. Although relaxing games ease the worries of many individuals during a time of peril, what the world needs right now is a clear picture of the current pandemic’s severity. Playing apocalyptic-themed games may do just the trick. Fair warning though, there may be some spoilers ahead.
1. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
Those familiar with the Danganronpa franchise know about its dystopian aspect, though it is more prominent in their spin-off game, Ultra Despair Girls. Although the soft visuals and the idea of having stuffed bears taking over the world may be amusing for some people, this game discloses darker themes that closely resembles what goes on in the real-life world. No, stuffed animals are not going to whirr into life and demolish what is left of the country. But the video game does help us reflect on the idea that if we do not work together to fight the spread of the disease, it will only get worse.
Komaru Naegi, the protagonist of Ultra Despair Girls, was confined inside an apartment alone for nearly two years after being taken from her family. Growing accustomed to the grief of loneliness, she nearly succumbs to despair. One day, the door to the apartment is knocked down to reveal everyone’s favorite game mascot: Monokuma, a monochrome bear with split facial features.
Different from the first two games, however, more than one Monokuma exists at one time, and is seen vandalizing buildings and looking for people to murder, all in order to spread despair. To put it simply, “despair” is portrayed as a disease in the Danganronpa world and can be spread like an infection. Once infected with despair, a person will be driven into a state of insanity and perform anarchic deeds.
By using a Megaphone Hacking Gun given to Komaru by the Future Foundation, an organization looking to dispel despair from the world, the player can destroy the Monokumas and assist Komaru.
All this information may be a lot to take in for someone without any knowledge from the first two games. Before playing Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, I recommend starting with the first game in the franchise, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, to fully immerse yourself into the complex yet satisfying plot. All games are available on Steam, so be the “hope” that the Danganronpa world needs.
2. Nier: Automata
For players who enjoy sci-fi elements or want to explore the idea of robots taking over the world instead of stuffed bears, Nier:Automata may satisfy those desires. Set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by destructive machines, labeled simply “The Machines,” the game asks you to help the Androids reclaim the Earth to “save” humanity. The player follows the plot through the eyes of two Androids, 2B and 9S, who have distinct personalities that separate them from their robot counterparts.
Other than playing for the sole purpose of destroying machines and saving the world, the storyline is worth paying attention to. Like humans, androids can also be infected with viruses, though their symptoms are more along the lines of glitching, malfunctioning and berserk modes. The story touches upon the logic virus, which affects many androids relevant to the story, and once infected, they must be eliminated to avoid more casualties. If you want to learn more about the plot and uncover the world’s mysteries, you can find Nier:Automata on Steam and PlayStation.
3. The Walking Dead Series
If reading about stuffed animals and machines taking over the world does not interest you, perhaps a familiar undead entity may suffice: zombies. Many have heard of “The Walking Dead” because of its connection to the award-winning comic book series and the television adaptation of the same name. The game follows the story of Lee Everett amid a zombie apocalypse, who does everything he can to survive, and later teams up with an orphaned girl named Clementine to offer her protection.
The player has the ability to control the choices Lee makes to fully immerse them into the apocalyptic setting. What would you do if the world is reduced to utter chaos with nothing left to do except survive, making decisions in real-time? Find out by playing through the Walking Dead series, available on Steam.
What Apocalyptic-themed Games Teach Us
Teamwork is key. Many games have a teamwork component in their code; however, apocalyptic-themed games offer an entirely different perspective. When you are thrown into a world that has been or in the process of being completely demolished, you will better understand the need to work together with other people before things get even worse, which is an important lesson for life in the time of COVID-19.
Apocalyptic-themed games do not sugarcoat reality. Of course, it is all right to de-stress through calming games such as Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing, but being aware of the seriousness the coronavirus pandemic also serves an important purpose. Although the world may not be taken over by stuffed animals, androids or the undead, the pandemic can be just as deadly.