The thought of an apocalypse is a prevalent theme in fiction of all sorts, and it makes an interesting premise for a video game. There are a wide variety of games that base their plotline on a world that has been through intense devastation, with the player being one of the few survivors – or sometimes, the sole survivor. The player then is required to find a way to safety, or stay alive, in difficult terrain, with limited resources. Some are more realistic than others, and some are realistic in a different way than others.
One form of realism is the surroundings. In some games, the neighborhoods and areas are based on actual locations and only changed in ways that would be expected in the case of an apocalypse – such as vegetation taking over, flooding, debris, and the like.
Another is in the process. Having to eat and sleep regularly while still staying safe, requiring the player to find food and shelter – and sometimes clothing – while avoiding whatever enemies may be lurking around the corners.
The third possibility for realism is the credibility. For instance, zombies that are just randomly there, or mutations that are unlikely, are not very realistic. On the other hand, if there are zombie-like people who have been altered mentally by ingesting a contaminant, this is plausible and could be considered somewhat realistic.
ARK: Survival Evolved
The player begins the game on an island, in a dangerous location, without food or clothing. The island is a primeval landscape, inhabited by dinosaurs and other creatures. Survival requires hunting, building, gardening, researching, and storing things. The weather has a direct effect on the player, and things like clothing and shelter, as well as heat and cooling, are required to survive. Staving off aggressive beasts, which can be killed for food or tamed for use as beasts of burden or transportation, is an important part of the game. There are a lot of places to explore and much to see.
The process is the main realism in this game, but the surroundings are a believable ecosystem as well.
Fallout has a whole series of games, but Fallout 4 is commonly hailed as one of the best of the entire series. The series began in 1997 with the most recent being Fallout 76 in 2018, but it is a spin-off and not part of the main series.
Fallout 4 is a role-playing game format. The premise is that the player is the only survivor who has been kept alive in cryostasis since the Great War. The player emerges from Vault 111 after 210 years, in Boston, Massachusetts. Many famous parts of that area of the state are included in the game’s graphics and gameplay, including historical monuments, mountains, and the coast.
The surroundings are the main realism in this game, with some believability, as well.
This War of Mine
This strategy game involves getting a group of civilians to live through a city in the throes of war. Food is scarce, medication is scarce, and danger is rampant. The group will need to figure out who to trust and how to get from place to place safely. Day and night are steady and each has its own challenges and requirements. Hard decisions must be made in order to survive.
The process is very realistic, and the surroundings are quite believable.
The Division 2
The Division takes place in Washington, D.C., in the summer. A virus has spread and the city has been evacuated. A heat wave has made things worse still. The player(s) (up to four playing cooperationally) complete missions after customizing their agent’s appearance, including gender, and adding gear. Weapons are equipped within the game. It is third-party gameplay in an RPG-style format.
The surroundings are as realistic as possible, featuring a fairly accurate Washington, D.C. area including buildings and landmarks.
The Long Dark
A survival game in which a geomagnetic disaster has made serious changes on the earth, the player must live in a frozen wasteland. Wildlife and hostile weather conditions make finding food and shelter a challenge. Technology is useless, and lights no longer work. The beautiful landscape is immersive and survival skills must be developed to make it through.
The process is extremely realistic, the credibility is high, and the surroundings have much realism, as well.
Set in Russia, this third game in the Metro series requires players to survive against enemies and rough conditions. Exploration is required to find needed items such as food, following the Trans-Siberian Railway. The main character can be customized, including weapons, headgear, and other equipment. Items can also be salvaged from fallen enemies and scavenged from locations throughout the area.
The surroundings are quite realistic, and it has some plausibility.
In this survival game created by the same company as This War of Mine, the goal is to help the city resist and thrive. The player sets up rules and laws and helps to create customs so the society can continue. The city the player creates is the last on earth, with the intent of aiding the society in thriving and surviving through the cold. The player controls health, sustenance, progress, and technology, as well as exploration and expansion. The hard decisions of leadership must be considered, and the results and consequences will follow – sometimes in unexpected ways.
The process is very realistic and the surroundings are fairly realistic as well. It appears that the credibility is also fairly high.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
The initials of the game stand for the enemies the player will meet. These are scavengers, trespassers, adventurers, loners, killers, explorers, and robbers. Set in the area affected by the Chernobyl disaster, the premise is that the area was changed and scientists were experimenting and this caused the mutation of some people and plants. These things cause difficulties and people are changed by some of the items that resulted from the disaster and the experimentation.
The surroundings are realistic.