The best video games set in the past
A indie game which pretty much single-handedly began what we now know to be the walking simulator genre, Gone Home is a beautifully written and focussed tale of a teenager returning home to her family home in the dead of night, only to discover the times and moments she has missed in their life. Set in the grand old year of 1995, the game masters the art of object storytelling.
Being set in such a nailed down time period, exploring the house reveals various Easter eggs relevant to the time, with talk of arcades, street fighter and maybe the odd cassette player or two. If you haven’t ventured into Greenbriar family home, pull up a chair, grab your headphones and prepare yourself for one of the most finely tuned narratives in indie gaming.
Unbelievably underrated and forgotten about, LA Noire was a crime game which suffered when released due to the story surrounding it’s production somewhat overshadowing it. Set in the post-WWII Los Angeles, LA Noire places you in the role of Cole Phelps tasked to investigate the various goings on in the Mafia underworld.
LA Noire is a bit of a gem simply because there really is no other game like it, even so long after its release. The pioneering facial capture technology while shaky at times, truly gives players the ability to be their very own Sherlock Holmes (hopefully not the Downey Jr version mind you), letting you explore the streets of 1947 LA wronging various rights as you do so!
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
A bold game which chooses to focus on the not so popular World War One setting, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a heartfelt adventure game that really shows what Ubisoft are capable of when they fully put their mind to something. Telling a series of bite-size stories from various interesting and original perspectives, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is just as informative as it is fun to play.
Short, sweet and a fresh take on the horrors of war, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a charming alternative to other games set in a war period, wrapped in a beautiful cartoon art style that makes every stage a joy to explore and rummage around in.
Taking stealth metaphorically as well as literally, Counter Spy uses its Cold War setting and capitalises on it immensely. Told from a 2.5D perspective, the game sees you attempting the to sabotage the rival country by sneaking and stealthing your way through a series of procedurally generated levels so it always feels fresh.
Definitely inspired by various 1960’ spy thrillers which also told stories of increased tension between the USA and USSR after World War II, Counter Spy requires you to be careful not to ramp up the threat level to maximum DEFCON otherwise you’ll suffer in the long term – Smart, creative, bite-sized fun.
Red Dead Redemption
Whether it’s riding into a newly discovered Western town on horseback or tying up a bandit by the ankles and strapping him to the train tracks, Red Dead Redemption did the impossible by letting us live out our cowboy fantasies in a fully immersive world. John Marston as a protagonist is a bad guy that’s trying to make amends by being good, and it’s an awesome central driving force.
Red Dead Redemption was something never previously thought possible on PS3 and 360 hardware, but the wizards at Rockstar didn’t fail to deliver one of the most detailed and lived in western settings games such as Call of Juarez and Gun could only dream of replicating. It also helps that the game’s Undead Nightmare DLC is some of the best ever released, just saying!