Video games are an entertainment juggernaut. They’ve taken their place next to films, books, and music to become a mainline hobby for millions of people all over the world. Video games are different from these other media in one very important way, however. Unlike movies, video games are interactive. They allow you to experience things now that aren’t real yet in the world and not part of your own experience.

In this article I want to highlight five games or game series that have transhumanist themes and also happen to be very good games as well. If you like video games and transhumanism, you should play these for sure.

Deus Ex Franchise

Few video game series exemplify transhumanist themes as strongly as the Deus Ex games. In these first-person role-playing games, you explore a world filled with human augmentation technologies. In fact, your own character has his own augmentation as a core game mechanic.

Although there are quite a few games in the series, there are three I would recommend to new players. The first Deus Ex is still widely considered to be one of the best games of all time. Graphically, it hasn’t aged well, but the game play and story content are still as top-notch as ever. Modern gamers may struggle with the crummy late-90s graphics, but if you can get over it, you really should play this game.

Check out this retrospective by one of my favorite YouTubers to get an idea of what you’d be letting yourself in for.

I would suggest skipping the other Deus Ex games other than Human Revolutions and Mankind Divided, which are prequels to Deus Ex 1 and are both beautiful and brilliant modern games, well-worth your time.

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Buy On Amazon (Deus Ex Human Revolution – Augmented Edition -Xbox 360)

Buy On Amazon (Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – PlayStation 4)

Nier: Automata

Nier Automata is a 2017 release by the gaming auteur Yoko Taro which, apart from being an absolutely brilliant game, shows us a world where there are no humans all. Instead, android and alien machines fight it out while they try to figure out the philosophy of who they are. It’s an emotional story about the nature of humanity, but it features no humans at all. This is my 2017 game of the year and any transhumanist gamer should absolutely not miss it.

I’d hate to give too much away about Nier Automata, since so much of what makes the game good is its many surprises. It’s worth mentioning that the combat in this game is incredible. The soundtrack is a masterpiece and the visuals and art direction are gorgeous. The story is also emotionally wrenching. Nier Automata is a good case for the argument that games can be art.

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Crysis is famous for pushing the limits of PC hardware at the time and even modern computers can still choke a little on the game. In this game, you play a soldier who wears a nanobot augmentation suit that allows you to be stronger, faster, tougher, and stealthier. It’s still an amazing experience, but the depiction of super soldiers enhanced with exoskeletons is a genuine taste of things to come in the real world too. In a way, Crysis is not so much a work of pure science fiction than it is a semi-realistic military shooter that was released a little before the curve.

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People who have played Bioshock may find it a little odd that I include it in a list like this, since the game is based in the future but rather harkens to the past. In this game you play a person who finds themselves in a underwater city meant to represent the libertarian dream. Here scientists and artists are allowed to do their work with no government interference whatsoever. Of course, for the purposes of the game’s story this quickly turns into a dystopian nightmare, and your character arrives on the scene after things have gone very much downhill.

Bioshock counts as a game with a transhumanist theme because the reason that this society went downhill is mainly because people augmented themselves with genetic changes that gave them new powers. Unfortunately, this also ultimately drove them mad. It’s a super-cool premise draped in a gorgeous mid-20th century art deco style. It’s a great horror game and still looks pretty good despite being quite old by now. Both of the other two Bioshock games in the series are also worth a look, if you like this one.

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The first thing that you should know about SOMA is that this game is not for any player with a weak constitution. This game is squarely in the survival-horror genre and will scare the pants of you. It’s also a smart philosophical take on artificial intelligence and transhumanist ideas such as mind-uploading. SOMA is not a big AAA title with millions of dollars behind it. It is, in fact, a small-budget indie game, but you hardly ever think that while sweating your way through the story.

This is another game where I don’t want to give away plot points and spoil the experience. But you can rest assured that if you like horror and also deep philosophy about the human mind and technology, this is a game that you simply must not pass up.

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The Talos Principle

If SOMA is too intense for you, but you like the whole idea of mind uploading, mystery, and cool robots, then the Talos Principle may be more your speed. This game is a first-person physics puzzler, but while you are running around solving some pretty fun puzzles you are also unraveling a mystery that seems very transhuman in nature. You also have very intriguing conversations in a text-based way with a game AI.

The Talos Principle is a fun way to both tease your brain and reflect on some very interesting philosophical questions. This is something that no one has done before, to my knowledge – at least not to this degree.

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