Here’s something completely different. If you’re not into slinging guns, then how about slinging booze in VA-11 Hall-1 — a.k.a. Valhalla. In this extremely indie game, you talk to a series of different characters that monologue their problems while you figure out the best drink recipes for each person. It’s an epic story told through the smallest window into the dystopian cyberpunk society. It’s a very special, very unique little game that can be both funny and heartbreaking if you can get on its (sometimes cloyingly indie) wavelength.
And we’re straying far from the premise here, but with the new re-release of System Shock, anyone can play one of the weirdest and most esoteric FPS games that helped spawn everything in the genre — and that includes Deus Ex. While I think System Shock 2 is the better and scarier game, the original System Shock is my pick here for its brazenly weird vision of a cyberpunk future.
Instead of exploring the streets of L.A. in the far-flung future, you’re a hacker picked up by a megacorporation (naturally) to deal with a rogue AI on a space station. The AI is building an army of mutants, and you’ve got to shut it all down before the Earth and all life gets wiped out. It doesn’t sound very cyberpunk — until you’re flying through the computer subsystems in a weird visual interface to hack everything.
System Shock now has an Enhanced Edition to make it easier to play for modern players, and there’s going to be a full remake coming soon that strips out all the unnecessary stuff to deepen the experience. Here’s hoping.