Top 10 Best Video Games Set in the 2020s

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

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2023-05-14 06:00:06

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, whether 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. Perfect Dark

Get the remastered version of Perfect Dark mainly because of the higher frame rate
Original platform: Nintendo 64
Similarities with actual 2020s: Non-existent  
Best qualities: Excellent offline multiplayer, one of the best-looking N64 games
Contemporary grade: 6/10
Game info

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 at the time. What also helped it were non-linear levels, excellent enemy artificial intelligence, and 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 mostly intact, for better or worse.

9. Crysis

Crysis Remastered could have been so much better - see the comparison
Original platform: PC
Similarities with actual 2020s: Still no aliens and advanced nano suits
Best qualities: Groundbreaking graphics, suit powers
Contemporary grade: 6/10
Game info

The original Crysis was so hardware-demanding that it was immortalized with the phrase, "But can it run Crysis?" Luckily, the captivating visuals are just one of the things 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 how 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 and 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, this is still an essential piece of gaming history.

8. Sunset Overdrive

Sunset Overdrive doesn't take itself too seriously!
Original platform: Xbox One
Similarities with actual 2020s: People are obsessed with harmful energy drinks, but they haven't mutated still
Best qualities: Unique and fun gameplay
Contemporary grade: 7/10
Game info

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 attractive.

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

7. Dead Rising 4

Dead Rising 4 is a bloody fun experience!
Original platform: Xbox One, PC
Similarities with actual 2020s: Like our world, but with zombies
Best qualities: Creative ways to kill enemies, Finally no time limit
Contemporary grade: 7/10
Game info

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, a controversial decision that divided fans. Still, we like it!

6. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward

Can you figure what's going on in Virtue's Last Reward?
Original platform: Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita
Similarities with actual 2020s: Not much really
Best qualities: Story, non-linearity
Contemporary grade: 9/10
Game info

All Zero Escape games are great, but Virtue's Last Reward is the best among them. These titles are unique because they combine visual novels with adventure elements. 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 out what's happening.

The element of time isn't crucial here, as Virtue's Last Reward is set in an isolated scenario, looking like an escape-the-room. What makes this title so thrilling is the story and your decisions, 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
Original platform: PlayStation 4
Similarities with actual 2020s: Not many, thankfully
Best qualities: Story, timeless presentation
Contemporary grade: 8/10
Game info

Even though it was one of the best PlayStation 4 exclusive games, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim remains unknown to a broader audience. What makes it incredible is that it combines visual novel and adventure elements with real-time strategy. Like Turtles in Time, this title 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. At the same time, real-time gameplay elements are less thrilling. However, you can lower the difficulty and make these segments incredibly easy if you don't enjoy them. 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
Original platform: Arcade
Similarities with actual 2020s: Hoverboards are way better!
Best qualities: Fast action, timeless graphics, four-player support
Contemporary grade: 8/10
Game info

Turtles in Time is one of the best ever beat 'em ups, and it's still fun to play today. While the game takes us to different eras, one level is set in 2020 and is distinct 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
Original platform: Neo Geo MVS
Similarities with actual 2020s: It looks more like it's set in an alternative past
Best qualities: Gorgeous visuals, tons of weapons, fun bosses
Contemporary grade: 8/10
Game info

Even if you're a big fan of the Metal Slug series, you probably didn't know 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 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 many other modern platforms in arcade-perfect form. Of all the games on our list, its gameplay is the most unlikely to become outdated!

2. Half-Life 2

This is why Half-Life 2 is such a great game!
Original platform: PC
Similarities with actual 2020s: Similar to our world, if invaded by aliens
Best qualities: Varied gameplay
Contemporary grade: 9/10
Game info

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 is 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. However, even after a few expansions, we still need many answers. As for the gameplay, what makes Half-Life 2 fun is that it's different from your average FPS. Instead, you must use your brain to beat many enemies and tools to manipulate physics and solve puzzles. While the graphics are indeed outdated, this is still an excellent title!

1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution gives you plenty of freedom
Original platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Similarities with actual 2020s: Way more technologically advanced
Best qualities: Story, environments, gameplay variety
Contemporary grade: 9/10
Game info

The Deus Ex franchise is among the 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.

As we've seen, all these top ten games have very different visions of the 2020s, and obviously, they are far from what's happening in real life. In that sense, Crysis seems the 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!

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