2020 was a bad year for most of us, but a surprisingly good year for video games. As we enter 2021 with the hope offered by the vaccines, and the light at the end of the tunnel just about visible, it might soon be possible to allow hope back in. Unless, it seems, video games are your guide.
2021 is a bit of an oddball year when it comes to setting games. For folks writing or developing video games over the last two decades or so, 2021 probably didn’t feel future-y enough. Plus it ends in a one, which isn’t very cool. As a result, there aren’t a ton of games set in 2021. Still, what games are set in our current new year do offer some alarming predictions.
Dead Rising 3 - September 2021
So yeah, a whole city is infested with deadly, flesh-eating zombies. 2019 Zack would have laughed at this prediction. How outlandish! 2021 Zack is oddly nervous about the whole thing. I guess that’s what happens when you live through (and continue to live in) a pandemic. What once seemed wildly impossible, a zombie plague spreading quickly and killing millions, just seems like another Tuesday now.
The Drowning - Sometime In 2021
Crap. More zombies. According to The Drowning, a mobile shooter released back in 2013, we should soon expect some gross, black oil to start washing up on our shores. That stuff will then quickly begin to turn people into zombie-like creatures. Because this was a free-to-play mobile game, we will have to manage a bunch of different currencies while surviving in a hellish post-apocalypse world. (Also, this game got a movie deal in 2014. Nothing seems to have happened beyond that, but still, odd.)
D/Generation - June 2021
It can’t be all bad news in 2021, right? What about D/Geneartion, an isometric action game with some puzzles released back in 1991. In that game, which is set in June 2021, a man is delivering packages via a jetpack. While trying to deliver a package to a doctor, he ends up in the Genoq research facility, where genetically engineered bioweapons have taken over the facility and are killing people. Oops! Luckily, most of these bioweapons are just big, bouncing red balls or weird green pipes that shoot lasers. I think we can handle that. Plus, at least we are getting jetpacks in a few months. So, see, it’s not all bad news!
Scorcher - Sometime In 2021
So at this point, 2021 seems to be filled with a lot of death, zombies, bioweapons, and suffering. So what will we do to have some fun in this new, terrible year? Well, race deadly-fast vehicles, of course! At least, that’s what Scorcher predicts. Released on the Sega Saturn and PC back in 1996, Scorcher shows a scary future where roads and race tracks float in ominous black voids. And, as with a lot of other 2021 games, this a post-apocalyptic world. Or maybe it’s just a dystopian world? It’s hard to say. It’s not great either way.
Nano Break - Sometime In 2021
On Nanotechnology Island (stop laughing,) something bad has happened. Nano Break, released in 2005 for the PS2, tells the simple story of a futuristic island filled with nanomachines controlled by a supercomputer that then goes nuts and creates giant inorganic monsters out of the residents on the island, mostly scientists and their family. You know, that classic tale. Jake, a cyborg soldier, is set in with a sword to kill all the evil monsters and stop the computer. Luckily, this can’t happen in our world because we aren’t all wearing advanced technology like smartphones or smartwatches at all times. Just another fantasy cooked up by some imaginative game developers.
Trauma Center: Under The Knife 2 - Sometime In 2021
So games are soothsaying 2021 is going to be a terrible year, just like 2020. And if 2020 is anything to go by, we are going to need talented and skilled healthcare workers to help keep us all alive and healthy. Thankfully, Trauma Center: Under The Knife 2 is set in 2021 and shows us a future where… oh crap. It’s a bunch of terrorists, deadly man-made super viruses, and evil corporations. 2021 can’t catch a break!
I came looking for hope. Instead, I was reminded that often when we create stories in the future, they tend to be downers. It makes sense that stories would be filled with conflict and turmoil—that’s more interesting than a game set in a future filled with happy times and good things. But after the awful year that was 2020, I was hoping for a lot less death and fewer zombies. I will get a sweet jetpack in June. However, is all of this suffering worth that cool jetpack? I don’t know. I haven’t seen the jetpack yet. But maybe.