8 Best Art Deco Games
What exactly is 'Art Déco'? If you've ever seen films, advertisements, or any kind of media that were popular during or focused on the 1920s, chances ...
What exactly is 'Art Déco'? If you've ever seen films, advertisements, or any kind of media that were popular during or focused on the 1920s, chances are you've already come across Art Déco. This style of architectural design is influenced by geometric patterns, an emphasis on stylization, and ornate embellishments using high-quality, luxurious materials. If you visit Chicago and explore the Board of Trade Building, you will find an excellent example of Art Déco there.
As this architectural style remains popular even today, it's no wonder that modern media is influenced by it, including video games. Several video games owe a debt to Art Déco, as it has influenced their worlds and narratives, whether in the form of noir stories or first-person shooters.
Tim Schafer's Grim Fandango, released in 1998, is a tale about the afterlife, drawing its influences from classic noir stories and Aztec culture. You step into the bony shoes of Manny Calavera, a "travel agent" who becomes entangled in a web of undead crime, corruption, and romance.
While the world of Grim Fandango is heavily influenced by Aztec design, the film noir style of the game also adds a rich layer of Art Déco. Many locations are adorned with lavish Art Déco embellishments, ranging from nightclubs to express trains. The afterlife may be a shady place in Grim Fandango, but it is certainly a beautiful one as well.
When one thinks of Fallout, they don't necessarily envision gleaming, beautiful skyscrapers, but rather enormous underground bunkers, atomic explosions, and humanity's eternal struggle to rise above barbarism. However, beneath the grime and ash, the world of Fallout reveals its roots in Art Déco, particularly in the remnants of Washington D.C. in Fallout 3.
The reason for this unique Art Déco style in the wasteland lies in the pre-war culture of Fallout. In this timeline, the world adopted a retro-futuristic mindset where streamlined, nuclear-powered cars, elegant automated skyscrapers, and elaborate mechanical servants were the norm. It is this combination of retro-futurism, Art Déco, and the post-apocalyptic grime of the 2000s that makes the world of Fallout so fascinating.
6 The Outer Worlds
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, The Outer Worlds tells the story of a future where mega-corporations are both gods and governments, spaceships with faster-than-light travel are commonplace, and humanity expands to the farthest reaches of our solar system and beyond.
Although The Outer Worlds draws inspiration from various styles, such as early 20th-century advertisements and American Westerns, Art Déco is still evident in almost every inch of Halcyon. Everything, from massive spaceship colonies to laser weapons to soda advertisements, exudes an elegant, streamlined design. These beautiful designs help soften the dystopian world in which you find yourself.
5 Civilization 5
Although you often associate Art Deco with turn-based strategy games, Civilization 5 is an exception. The user interface, options, and menu of the game are heavily influenced by Art Deco and feature angular, stylized letters, geometric columns, and golden embellishments.
But why such a unique style for the Civilization series? According to an interview with GameInformer's Art Director Dorian Newcomb, the design was inspired by a combination of New York City's Art Deco architecture and LucasArts games, particularly the aforementioned Grim Fandango.
Published by Bethesda Softworks and developed by Arkane Austin, Prey from 2017 transports you to the Talos 1 space station, which is infested with hostile, psychic aliens. Although survival is the focus in Prey, that doesn't mean that the world around you still doesn't possess a certain beauty.
Many parts of the Talos 1 section are decorated in the opulent Art Deco style, ranging from the offices of corporate elites to experimental greenhouse areas. Similar to the Fallout series, Prey's aesthetic choices express its background story, in which the United States and the Soviet Union took different technological paths during the space race.
3 L.A. Noire
Released in 2011, Rockstar's L.A. Noire puts you in the role of Detective Cole Phelps, a classic hardened detective tasked with cleaning up the streets of 1940s Los Angeles from crime. It is a game full of action, interrogations, crime, and decadence.
Due to the time period in which the game takes place, Los Angeles is still in its Art Deco phase. Warehouses, offices, and skyscrapers throughout the city are breathtakingly decorated, while even the advertisements seem to have a touch of beauty. The impressive architecture of L.A. Noire helps conceal the fact that a world of shady characters and dubious dealings exists right beneath the shine and glamour.
2 Close To The Sun
"Close to the Sun" by Storm in a Teacup takes place in an alternative version of the year 1897, where a kind of technological Cold War is happening between inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. You assume the role of Rose Archer, who is aboard the gigantic cruise ship "Helios" in search of her missing sister.
The sprawling ship is filled with Art Deco influences, whether it's the internal railway system, the labyrinthine corridors and tunnels that run throughout the ship, or the beautifully gilded Tesla Tower. Gold, brass, and steel dominate the Helios, giving the seemingly abandoned ship an eerie yet magnificent quality. When you're not solving puzzles, it's easy to get lost in the lush details of your surroundings.
1 BioShock 1 - 2
The city of Rapture from BioShock probably doesn't need an introduction. Built by industrialist Andrew Ryan in the late 1940s, the underwater colony was intended to serve as a hidden utopia for the elite of humanity to escape the perceived apocalypse. Unfortunately, a civil war and the excessive abuse of the genetic wonder drug ADAM led to Rapture becoming a crumbling, twisted ruin of its former glory.
Nevertheless, whether you play as Jack or Subject Delta, traces of the city's former glory still seem to linger beneath the rubble. From the neon-drenched halls of Fort Frolic to the balconies inspired by the French Quarter in Siren Alley, and even to the solitary lighthouse in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, you will find yourself lost in the melancholic and haunting corridors of Andrew Ryan's sunken dream.