Right off the bat, for those of you that typically struggle to pull yourselves away from your game controller in the effort to indulge in some quality original Netflix content – you really should! Their latest show Stranger Things is a vintage throwback to the retro 80’s era, a time that was just as important for cult sci-fi movies as it was for the birth of modern video games.
It’s a show about alternate worlds and dimensions, shady government organisations and of course a group of misfit kids who need to work together to triumph over the forces of evil. With only 8 Stranger Things episodes, this most popular Netflix show is almost certainly bound to leave you wanting more, thankfully we’ve put together this list of 5 games to play if you enjoyed Netflix’s Stranger Things – each containing analogues and parallels to help better scratch that pop culture itch!
In the same way that right from the get go Stranger Things doesn’t explain its premise to you and just runs with it, Transistor is similar to Stranger Things where it does much the same whilst presenting players with a detailed and beautiful retro-future world that many 80’s sci-fi cult classics like Aliens and Blade Runner did. Backed up by a hypnotically synth soundtrack that successfully evokes a sense of mystery, Transistor is a short turn-based adventure that will have you looking to find your feet amongst the neon landscapes of cloudbank.
Placing you in the role of a silent central protagonist is by no means an original take (I’m looking at you Gordon Freeman), but Transistor is a game that places atmosphere firmly on centre stage, tempting you further into an intriguing narrative comprised of interesting characters – Stranger Things fans will love it.
A somewhat forgotten narrative-focused FPS from developers Raven Software, Singularity was the rare example of a shooter that embraced its quirky premise and never took itself too seriously. Setting the template for future campy first person shooters like Wolfenstein: The New Order and more recently DOOM, much like Stranger Things the game evokes a much appreciated B-movie feel – a crucial element for any 80’s throwback.
Singularity itself places you in the role of Nolan North (surprise, surprise!) as generic soldier #1 who is regularly forced to hop backwards and forwards in time across a Soviet Cold War experimental island. Using the time manipulation device or ‘TMD’ you’ll overcome unsurmountable odds to svae the day, Stranger Things eat your heart out!
The Swapper (2013)
The first half of Stranger Things begins just as any Spielberg or Carpenter movie would, starting out in a fairly hunky dory world before presenting viewers with an intrinsic mystery we feel compelled to know the answer to. If ever there was a game similar to Stranger Things that also feels like a retrograde 80’s sci-fi throwback that oozes atmosphere and mystery, it’s 2013’s The Swapper.
Placing you in the role of an intergalactic scavenger stranded on a research station, The Swapper is an eerie puzzle platformer that requires you to switch consciousness between clones as you attempt to discover where it all went wrong. Stranger Things directly nods to the grimy interiors of say the Nostromo or Millennium Falcon, why not explore one all your own?
What does E.T, Wargames, The Last Starfighter and of course Stranger Things have in common? Their intrinsic focus on child protagonists of course, with each child hero’s story arc instantly being relatable to audiences young and old – a similar emphasis on friendship is placed on one of this year’s most interesting games: Oxenfree.
A haunting graphic adventure played from a 2.5D perspective, Oxenfree sees you control a group of unruly teenagers who intend to party all night long on a desolate abandoned island. How can anything go wrong? Before long you’ll begin to wonder what are the creatures that look into the shadows and what’s the reasoning behind the unusual in-game radio frequencies?
A retro cult-classic in its own right (providing you can get hold of it) Mother/ Earthbound is an important game for its overall contribution to JRPG’s that almost certainly pulled inspiration from classic sci-fi 80’s movies in the same way as Stranger Things. As Ness, the game begins with you investigating a nearby meteorite crash with friendship once again playing an important factor.
The overall plot is weird, the enemy design is weird and some of the games overall themes are weird, but regardless Earthbound is a game about growing up and what it’s like to be young – echoing many of the sentiments present in Stranger Things. The game is extremely risky for the time, with some sections feeling intrinsically psychedelic as well as some character’s ability to directly address the player.