If you live in the United States, chances are this election cycle wore you down…a lot. With everything going on in the news, there are not many options for catharsis or escapism in today’s world. However, gaming is one of the few forms of entertainment where someone can sit down, plugin, and fight against some facsimile of the unjust society they see.
Here are 5 games about taking down an unjust government. Sit back and enjoy these titles to take the edge off, take your frustrations out on evil, and reform it in the process.
Persona 5/Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5, along with its spiritual successor, Persona 5 Royal, are games all about standing up to those who oppress others, all for the sake of doing what is right. Players take the reins of the unnamed protagonist who moves to Tokyo after being wrongly arrested for assault by a dirty politician, Masayoshi Shido, who lies and cheats to get whatever he wants. A series of events leads the protagonist to create The Phantom Thieves, a group of supernatural treasure thieves wielding the power of Personas.
The Phantom Thieves use their powers to steal the distorted desires of wrongdoers by infiltrating the Palaces of distortion within their hearts. Convoluted, I know, but taking down bad guys and looking stylish doing so is something everyone secretly wishes they could do today. The main storyline culminates with taking down Shido and ending his reign of taking advantage of the citizens and destroying their lives.
Shido isn’t the only baddie The Phantom Thieves takedown. With antagonists such as a mafia boss, corrupt CEO, and a pedophilic high school teacher, there is no shortage of society to reform. Nor is there any shortage of style while doing so.
Persona 5/Persona 5 Royal is one of the most uniquely beautiful games of this console generation. From the balance of manga-style artwork and graphics, jazz-funk soundtrack from Shoji Meguro, and characters you learn to care for quickly, Persona 5 is a great choice to take your frustrations out on an unjust society and one of the best games on the PS4.
The nation of Kyrat used to be a beautiful and tranquil land in the Himalayas. A royal family once ruled Kyrat as an autonomous state, until a series of violent civil wars forced them out. Far Cry 4 follows the story of Ajay Ghale, a Kyrati-American who returns to honor his mother by spreading her ashes in her home country.
Unfortunately for Ajay, Kyrat’s unrest is at an all-time high, as its current king, Pagan Min has taken over the airfields, leaving the protagonist no way to escape. What follows is an adventure to liberate Kyrat from its unjust, despotic leader and return it to the hands of its people. The player takes the side of the rebellion group, the Golden Path a the beginning of the game. Two commanders run the Golden Path, Sabal and Amita. Each has strengths as a leader, but each comes with a considerable amount of baggage as well.
Throughout the course of the game, players believe the Golden Path to be the “good guys.” However, in classic Far Cry fashion, good is subjective. Once Ajay helps the Golden Path liberate Kyrat from Min, it is ruled by whichever commander the player sides with. If players choose Sabal, he turns Kyrat into a patriarchy that denies women basic human rights while executing the opposition. If players choose Amita, she turns Kyrat into one of the largest drug trading countries, forcing children to be soldiers and villagers to work in drug dens.
The player then has the opportunity to free the oppressed people of Kyrat once again. Nothing like dismantling a corrupt regime twice!
inFAMOUS Second Son
inFAMOUS Second Son is the third entry in the popular inFamous series, and many would argue it is the best of the bunch. The game no longer follows the story of protagonist Cole MacGrath, but the story of Delsin Rowe, a new Conduit who has the ability to absorb others’ powers.
Delsin is a Native American of the Akomish tribe. After the Department of Unified Protection collaterally attacked his people and left them to slowly die, Delsin and his brother Reggie race to Seattle to absorb the powers of the woman who hurt them and save the Akomish people. Once he is there, Delsin becomes embroiled in a government plot to kill every Conduit. Delsin goes on an adventure to save his Akomish people, the Conduits and uncover the truth of the DUP.
Where inFAMOUS Second Son sets it apart as a way to satiate desires to reform society is in the power that Delsin continues to obtain. In the beginning of the game, players take control of a weak, but adventurous kid. By the time credits roll, Delsin Rowe becomes the most powerful Conduit in the world. Depending on which route you take, players even have the chance to take control of the city.
Defeating an unjust government oppressing society based on who they are feels good, it just does. Being able to do so while kicking ass with over-the-top powers is even better. In terms of satisfying combat and obvious overtones of standing up to evil, inFAMOUS Second Son is a great candidate to let loose.
The entire Watch Dogs franchise could rightfully take spots on this list, but I want to focus on Watch Dogs 2 in particular. Set in the gorgeous backdrop of San Francisco, Watch Dogs 2 chronicles the story of a young hacker by the name of Marcus Holloway. Watch Dogs 2 takes place three years after the events of the first Watch Dogs. Players are once again recruited into the ranks of DedSec, a hacker group created to stand up to big tech and government surveillance. In this game, the big bad is the technology company Blume, which created the computing/security network ctOS 2.0. While many people see Blume as a company that promotes good, or at least that the tech Blume creates is a necessary evil, DedSec learned that ctOS 2.0 has the ability to harm citizens. This causes DedSec, and Marcus, to act and try to stop it.
What ensues is an amazing balance between dark plot, fun action/gameplay, and an expansive open-world setting. DedSec and Marcus go after Blume, but eventually, realize Blume’s CTO used them to sell more ctOS 2.0.
A corrupt, evil corporation is bending the will of the American people and influencing the government that the people should have faith in. DedSec, Marcus, and you are the only ones with the power to stop this unjust society. Play Watch Dogs 2 and answer the call!
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Speaking of taking down evil corporations willing to do anything for power, I would be remiss to not mention one of the most recognizable games of all time, Final Fantasy VII. It boasts sweeping stories where a band of heroes saves their mythical world from the brink of destruction. One of its main villains, the Shinra Electric Power Company, is an overt social commentary on corporations’ influences on the environment, creating a truly unjust society.
The story revolves around legendary character Cloud Strife and the eco-terrorist insurgent group who hired him, AVALANCHE. AVALANCHE’s mission is to take down the Shinra corporation and stop its abusive practices of extracting the planet’s most precious natural resource, known as Mako. Over the course of the first portion of Final Fantasy VII, or the whole of Final Fantasy VII Remake, players carry out AVALANCHE’s operations to bomb Shinra’s reactor cores and halt its Mako extractions, protecting what Mako the world has left.
If you have not yet had the pleasure of taking part in one of video games’ most universally loved titles, there may be no better time than the present to take down a corrupt corporation and have fun doing it.
If you are anything like me, the last week was a stressful one. And although there are some reasons for hope, why not take the time to vent through one of the best forms of entertainment around: gaming? These five games may not be a way to solve our society’s problems, but for a brief while, players can get lost in a world where they do have the power to take down an unjust society and build a new one.