More than any other genre of entertainment, I love a good piece of science fiction. It is a form of media with limitless potential, allowing creators to invent as realistic or fantastical a vision of the future as they can imagine. But what I like best about a great work of science fiction is how it can speak to something truthful about our present by providing a warning about where technology is headed or simply reflecting on the human condition. It’s a powerful storytelling tool that video game series like Metroid have leveraged over the years to weave rich narratives.
As a fan of the genre, I’ve been in heaven the past few months. This spring has brought an absolute bounty of sci-fi video games, both titles based on beloved IPs and those that take place in entirely original worlds. from one of the best Star Wars games ever made for a forward-thinking indie story about AI, these five games offer just a small taste of what has been a milestone in a few months for interactive sci-fi.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Since its inception in the original George Lucas trilogy, the Star Wars The series has always dealt with big ideas amongst the outer space pulp. It is a war story at heart, telling the story of resistance fighters fighting against the fascist government of the Empire. Past Star Wars video games have tapped into those thematic building blocks to varying degrees of depth, but I appreciate the direction Star Wars Jedi: Survivor enter narratively. Set five years after the events of falling order, Cal Kestis seeks to gain an advantage over the Empire by seeking the aid of a High Republic Jedi named Dagan Gera. Unfortunately, Gera isn’t interested in being allied with a Jedi Order that betrayed him.
As its name suggests, the sequel uses its sci-fi framework to talk about what it means to be a survivor in an unforgiving world. Kestis and Gera have two very different ideas about this, with the latter embracing her inner darkness to dismantle a damaging status quo created by the Jedi Order. That theme is explored more explicitly later on, as the characters are forced to make difficult decisions to defend the people they love. It is an exciting human telenovela that is worthy of the Star Wars name.
Star Trek: Resurgence
What an unusual blessing it is that we have been treated with great Star Wars and star trek games within a month of each other, even if the two titles couldn’t be more different. While Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a high budget action game where you will go through hundreds of droids, Star Trek: Resurgence it is much more discreet. Developed by Dramatic Labs, a studio started by former Telltale Games employees, Resurgence is more of an interactive TV show in which players take on the role of the captain of the USS Resolute and a member of its lower decks. Both stories intersect when the crew of the ship is involved in a complicated peacekeeping mission between two warring space factions.
It’s a fantastic fit for the star trek series. Instead of creating a big action game filled with blaster battles, Dramatic Labs offers a fascinating game about diplomacy. Difficult and impactful dialogue decisions show the challenges of keeping the peace, both in international and personal affairs. That makes for a gripping sci-fi story that feels right in line with the cerebral nature of star trek. Although if you like games with a little more interaction, it has a lot going for it in that department too, from solving puzzles to stealth missions that help break up peace talks. it’s a great season star trek wrapped up in a concise nine-hour package.
like IP, thunder it’s always seemed like a natural fit for video games; after all, the original movie centers on an arcade cabinet. Tron: Identity fulfill that dream, but probably not in the way you expect. It’s not a neon-tinged action game complete with motocross chases and disc-throwing combat. Instead, it’s a cerebral visual novel that offers up an excellent slice of hardcore, traditional sci-fi.
The neo-noir story follows a program called Query who is called in to investigate a break-in at The Repository, a massive building at the center of an abandoned Grid. That premise allows the story to explore some important philosophical questions through conversations with a handful of characters. What particularly stands out are some of its theological themes, as the shows struggle to understand why their creator has left them. It all makes for a fascinating little Tron story about the anxieties of living in a world you have no control over.
return to grace
Although there are a handful of established Hollywood franchises on this list, one of the best sci-fi stories this spring is a totally original small-scale indie game. return to grace is a short adventure about an astronaut’s perilous journey to find a once-powerful AI, Grace, who seemingly vanished from humanity during a golden age she helped create. The story sees the main character stumble upon an abandoned facility on a remote planet where he must track down Grace with the help of an eccentric gang of AI companions.
While the gameplay is sparse and revolves around on-foot exploration and some simple puzzles, its story feels especially right for the current moment. The deeper you go into the facility, the more you learn about how humanity revered Grace, treating her like a God who could solve all of her problems. It all builds on a thoughtful ethical question that I’ve been pondering since finishing it, leaving me wondering if the convenience of AI could lead to complacency.
Standalone puzzle platformer wool planet it’s the most low-key sci-fi story on this list. Instead of telling a grand narrative filled with heady questions, it’s a wordless adventure about a young woman who seeks to save her friends in a remote forest town from a mysterious kidnapping by roots. With the help of a fellow cat, Lana must navigate through nature using nature to her advantage.
We never learn too much about the origin of robots. There are some environmental hints scattered throughout the story, but wool planet does not dwell on details. Instead, she contrasts the image of those terrifying machines with the serene beauty of Lana’s planet. That emphasis on nature over apocalyptic chaos makes for a more hopeful sci-fi story about a girl learning to preserve what she loves in her world.
There is also much more on the horizon. Later this summer, you will be able to fight the robots in Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon and explore space star field. This is just the beginning of what is shaping up to be a landmark year for video game science fiction.