Top 10 Best Video Games Set in the 2020s

Tags: #MetalSlug ,   #Gaming ,   #videogames ,   #HalfLife ,   #TMNT

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2022-11-27 18:00:09

While the time machine may never be invented, video games offer the best alternative, taking us to the past or future. Tens of these titles are set in the current decade, so we've picked the best among them! Every game we're going to mention is worthy of your time, despite if their future visions are accurate or not. As you'll see on our top ten list, some of these titles are from the modern era, while others come from the past millennia.

10. Dead Rising 4

Dead Rising 4 is a bloody fun experience!

The prior decade was all about zombies, and Capcom cashed on it with the Dead Rising series. While Dead Rising 3 is also set in the 2020s, its sequel is a better game. The plot takes us to 2021 and 2022, bringing back fan-favorite protagonist Frank West. Now a college professor, he is once again in the middle of a zombie outbreak, trying to figure out what's going on. 

As before, the best thing about the game is that it gives you creative ways of handling hundreds of undead creatures on the screen. While the gameplay sticks to its roots, there are some new elements. For example, this is the first game in the series without a time limit, which was a pretty controversial decision that divided fans. Still, we like it!

9. Crysis

Crysis Remastered could have been so much better - see the comparison

The original Crysis was so hardware-demanding that it was immortalized with the phrase, "But can it run Crysis?" Luckily, the wonderful visuals are not the only thing it offers. What makes the whole series stand out from your typical FPS is a high level of customization. You can modify the weapons on the go while your suit has various defensive and offensive modes. This also affects the way you play, as you can be stealthy or aggressive.

The game takes us to 2020, and in a sense, it has similar vibes to the first "Predator" movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The difference is, here, you'll face plenty of aliens, but also the North Korean forces. While you can still play the original from 2007, Crysis received a remaster in 2020, so it's better to go with that one. While there are much better FPSs now, this is still an essential piece of gaming history.

8. Sunset Overdrive

Sunset Overdrive doesn't take itself too seriously!

Sunset Overdrive was one of the incredibly rare Xbox One exclusives, at least until it was later ported to PC. This open-world action shooter doesn't take itself seriously, giving you almost complete freedom. Set in 2027, Sunset Overdrive is all about stopping mutants high on the newest energy drink. Despite grim settings, the game world is full of bright colors and looks very attractive.

As attractive is your moveset, allowing you to stay off the ground. You'll have to use various weapons, as none of them are super-efficient against all the different types of enemies. While we highly recommend this game, keep in mind that you'll need the patience to figure out the gameplay mechanics.

7. Perfect Dark

Get the remastered version of Perfect Dark mainly because of the higher frame rate

Perfect Dark is among the greatest ever Nintendo 64 games and the spiritual successor to excellent GoldenEye 007. Set in 2023, the story is pretty wild as it involves interstellar wars and lots of technology that's still beyond our reach. Perfect Dark's gameplay is surprisingly deep, and it was probably the best console FPS by then. What also helped it were non-linear levels and excellent enemy artificial intelligence, together with rich local multiplayer.

While it appears dated now, Perfect Dark is one of the best-looking games on Nintendo 64. However, that also means it suffers from low frame rates, making it almost unplayable at times. That's why we recommend a remastered version from 2010, although it's available only on the Xbox consoles. While it significantly improves visuals, it keeps gameplay pretty much intact, for better or worse.

6. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward

Can you figure what's going on in Virtue's Last Reward?

All Zero Escape games are great, but among them, Virtue's Last Reward is the best. What makes these titles so unique is that they combine visual novel with adventure elements, which is rarely seen. The dark plot takes us to 2028 as nine central characters are unlucky enough to be kidnapped by a mysterious Zero. Their goal is not only to survive but to figure more about what's really going on.

The element of time isn't crucial here, as Virtue's Last Reward is set into an isolated scenario, looking like escape-the-room challenges. What makes this title so thrilling is the story and the decisions you make, leading to 24 possible endings. This means that the game has a tremendous replay value, as you'll want to check at least a majority of conclusions. The action sequences aren't memorable, but they don't undermine the experience.

5. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

You'll love the story and characters in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Even though it's of the best PlayStation 4 exclusive games, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is pretty much unknown to a broader audience. What makes it incredible is that it combines visual novel and adventure elements with real-time strategy, creating something unique. Like Turtles in Time, this title also explores time traveling, with 2025 as one destination. As giant monsters invaded Japan in 1985, you have to change both the future and the past to counter it.

In a sense, 13 Sentinel is similar to Zero Escape, as its storytelling shines, while real-time gameplay elements are not as thrilling. However, if you don't enjoy it, you can lower the difficulty and make these segments incredibly easy. As is always the case with Vanillaware games, the presentation is gorgeous, giving you another reason to add it to your collection. Call this the definition of a hidden gem!

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

The year 2020 looks way too futuristic in Turtles in Time

Turtles in Time is one of the best ever beat 'em ups on arcade and Super Nintendo, and it's still fun to play today. While the game takes us to a few different eras, one level is in 2020, and it's different on SNES and the arcade. While the arcade version is your typical side scroller, on SNES, you play from the more fun third-person perspective. Unfortunately, we still don't have hoverboards, but at least there's no Shredder and his gang too!

Despite only two-player support and lacking some of the effects, the Super Nintendo version is the best. Gorgeous graphics put a smile on our faces, and the gameplay is still fun, thanks to a diverse set of levels. In 2009, the game received a remake for PS3 and Xbox 360, but it's better to stay away from it! It's not easy to get it anyway, as it was delisted in 2011.

3. Metal Slug

Metal Slug still looks gorgeous - just make sure that you play the arcade-perfect version

Even if you're a big fan of the Metal Slug series, you probably didn't know that these games are set in the future! The first in the series takes us to 2028, as we're trying to save the world by facing the whole army. Released in 1996, this title is now a timeless classic with highly detailed 2D graphics and animation. Side-scrolling gameplay is challenging, as one hit leads to your death, while you can't earn additional lives.

Metal Slug is now one of the most expensive games ever, as the North American cartridge for NeoGeo AES costs over $20,000. Luckily, the title is available on tons of other modern platforms in arcade-perfect form. Of all the games on our list, its gameplay is the most unlikely to become outdated!

2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution gives you plenty of freedom

The Deus Ex franchise is among favorites in gaming history because of its complex gameplay. It's your choice if you'll go straight ahead and blow everyone away or employ stealth mechanics. By augmenting your abilities, you constantly add fresh elements to the adventure, and Human Revolution is excellent at it! Unlike the original game, this reboot takes us to the near future, in 2027. However, this is a parallel world already dominated by cyberpunk elements.

This means augmentations for human bodies are a thing, creating a divide between those who can afford it and those who don't or are opposed to it. On the other hand, this world is doing more to fight global warming and promote green energy, so not everything is horrible. Released in 2011, Human Revolution is still excellent, although we recommend playing the Director's cut version featuring new content and improvements.

1. Half-Life 2

This is why Half-Life 2 is such a great game!

Half-Life 2 is so good that even after almost two decades, gamers are begging Valve to make a sequel. While no exact date is mentioned, the game is set during this decade, probably around 2023. This near-future doesn't look bright, as it shows the Earth easily conquered by aliens. Nonetheless, Gordon Freeman is here to once again save the day as he joins the resistance movement. 

It's probably not a spoiler saying that the scenario is very intriguing, but even after a couple of expansions, we still need many answers. As for the gameplay, what makes Half-Life 2 fun is that it's not your average FPS. Instead, you have to use your brains to beat many enemies and tools to manipulate physics and solve puzzles. While the graphics are indeed outdated, this is still an excellent title!

As we've seen, all these top ten games have very different visions of the 2020s, and obviously, none of them is even close to what's happening in real life. In that sense, Crysis seems most realistic, although it involves very advanced technology and aliens. More importantly, all these titles are still fun to play, while most have already earned legendary status. As they belong to various genres, we're sure you'll find something for yourself!

What is your favorite game set in the current decade? Have you played some of these games already? Let's discuss it in our comments section!

Photo: Unsplash/Matt & Chris Pua



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