Dazzling strips of neon violet; high-powered machinery operated by subclass citizens with a hunger for the city nightlife; fight clubs and contorted politics bleeding the streets dry of all its morality. It can only be a cyberpunk city, of course. Have you popped your head into one recently? They seem to be all the rage as of late, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t spent the last few years trucking from one UV-soaked metropolis to the next in search of the most spectacular marvel of them all.
The cyberpunk style has become increasingly popular over the years — made even more appealing by the Cyberpunk 2077‘s carnivorous Night City, no doubt. The question is, which of the many neon futuristic worlds have we shared the fondest memories with? Well, let’s rustle up the best of the best. Here are, in our opinion, five of the greatest cyberpunk worlds of all time.
5. Hell — Afterparty
We’ve seen countless interpretations of Hell over the years, that’s a fact. However, we haven’t really seen that many cyberpunk cities buried between its nightmarish seven circles — especially ones that host nightclubs and karaoke bars and what have you. But Afterparty, funnily enough, brings all of that to the table, and then some.
En route to the Devil’s penthouse to bask in the hell-bent shenanigans, you’ll find yourself touring a brightly lit metropolis packed full of abstract paintings and vibrant networks of bars and infamous sinners. Every tier tells a story, and every stop along the way ushers in a new wave of ultraviolet textures to absorb. It’s one big party down in Hell — and you’re the VIP.
4. Detroit — Detroit: Become Human
Detroit stood as an ideal location to host Quantic Dream’s follow-up creation to Beyond: Two Souls, that’s for sure. Become Human featured all the bells and whistles, nooks and crannies to hoist the cyberpunk colors and showcase it in all its glory. Civilization and mechanical enhancements went hand-in-hand, and it was all fleshed out with a powerful city embellished with cyberpunk components.
Detroit: Become Human filled its setting with dreary suburban districts and overwhelming city spires, all of which radiated a powerful aura that screamed cyberpunk. Why Detroit was chosen as the playground for such a futuristic world is another question. That being said, after touring it for the very first time, it was evident Quantic Dream had made the right choice in doing so.
3. Night City — Cyberpunk 2077
Having a game based entirely on a cyberpunk world with only a few additional Westernized adornments, Cyberpunk 2077 was destined to land a spot on this list from the get-go. Night City, complete with an outlandish labyrinth of monochrome districts and mechanical suites, all meshed together to form a living, breathing metropolis where its population never slept.
From the hustle and bustle of Jig-Jig Street to the back alley brawls that powered the subway stations, Night City homed a great deal of atmosphere, all of which was accessible to the player from the moment you plunged into its acclaimed world. It had a heartbeat, and it pounded vigorously so long as you went out of your way to hear it.
2. Midgar — Final Fantasy VII Remake
Remakes and reboots are great for all sorts of reasons. Final Fantasy VII, despite being well over twenty years old, was a perfect choice for such a thing. However, rather than settling for a basic template of Midgar, the 2020 remake instead aimed to flesh out its world with next-level visuals and lore, thereby making it a cyberpunk marvel in motion.
While players will spend the bulk of the story scrubbing the poorer districts of lower Midgar, a small chunk of it does take place in the top tiers of the mechanical city. It’s there that most cyberpunk influences latch on to every day things, including buildings and objects, attire and personalities. Sure, it’s no Night City, but it does breathe from a very similar vein, and it also does a pretty good job at portraying such features while maintaining the Final Fantasy feel.
1. Rengkok — Ruiner
An ideal title that flew south of the radar for many gamers was Ruiner, a shoot ’em up flick that flushed oceans of crimson into its cyberpunk setting. Set in 2091, the murky teal and cherry red city of Rengkok revolved entirely around futuristic structures and postmodern civilization on the brink of collapse.
Having the luxury of viewing the vibrant kingdom of Rengkok from a bird’s-eye view was a pleasure in itself. Its tattered corridors and labyrinth of monochrome platforms all served as accessories to the cyberpunk world it thrived to be. And while it might have missed a few radars after its launch, it doesn’t stray away from the fact that Ruiner was—and still very much is—a solid entry to the shoot ’em up genre, as well as a fantastic successor to the cyberpunk scene. Change our minds.
So, what about you? Do you agree with our top five? Which cyberpunk worlds would you rank the highest? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.