Staff Picks - 6 Atmospheric Games You Should Play

Published: November 29, 2016 1:00 PM /



Fall is my favorite time of the year.  From the pumpkin infused everything, the greatest holiday of the year, and the early stages of my neighborhood becoming brighter than the sun, it's a great transition from being able to go outside at night to dying in the cold while getting the mail.  This month the staff and I decided to recommend some of our favorite modern games that have a heavy emphasis on atmosphere and moodiness.  Keep in mind this is a small list from a handful of people, and while we would have loved to suggest more, we wanted to keep this list short and sweet.

Life is Strange

Life is Strange might be the first game to invoke that moody indie film vibe without leaving the realm of video games. Over the course of 5 episodes, you control Max, who after gaining the ability to rewind time, reunites with her troubled childhood friend Chloe to help her solve the disappearance of a friend. With the help of its exceptional indie rock soundtrack and interesting visual aids to help navigate you through the increasingly melancholy story, Life is Strange is much more than it looks and definitely worth checking out. —Chris Anderson

Gravity Ghost

Gravity Ghost is a game that absolutely nails its mood, with a mixture of great art and a unique soundtrack that perfectly suits the game and stands alone quite great. The game manages to carry its moods of wonder, exploration, melancholy, and more all within limited cutscenes that slowly unfold a tragic tale as you search for your lost friend the fox. Very few games have brought tears to my eyes, but with its great presentation and writing, Gravity Ghost did, and it is still a wonderful one that I like to go back and revisit, either to relax or to explore that tale again. —Don Parsons


Inside is an atmospheric game hidden in a platformer. From the depth of the scenery to the lack of any sound other than what the player or environment creates, Inside forces an overwhelming feeling of isolation and insignificance. You are told nothing and have nothing to read; all you learn of the world and its inhabitants is what you see and hear from the perspective of a boy. —Andrew Otton

Shadow of the Colossus

Much like Team Ico's other work, Shadow of the Colossus is a game designed from the ground up with atmosphere in mind. The team was actively trying to see how little UI they could get away with having on the screen and eventually settled on just the grip circle. The camera also frames everything in a great way that never sacrifices gameplay in order to be more like a movie, but still builds the atmosphere and world. - Reagan Cox

Farcry 3: Blood dragon

Beyond the bombast and machismo of the game's story, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon's environment captures the feeling of an 80’s neon cyber action movie. Warped landscapes backed by dark synth beats are the order of the day, and visual glitches recapture the feeling of walking into the world of a grainy VHS. Quiet moments throughout this cyber adventure are just as thrilling and nostalgic as the gunfights. —Alex Santa Maria


Firewatch is the kind of game you play once and think about for weeks on end.  While not too big on gameplay and puzzles, Firewatch does an exceptional job at telling a story of a man running away from his problems to the lush and unforgiving wilderness. The camera mechanic is brilliant, and the environments are absolutely gorgeous. While some of the story beats don’t quite pan out the way I had expected them to, Firewatch is the perfect way to unwind without having to run away to the mountains.—Nick Maillet

What did we miss?  What genre should we recommend next time? Let us know in the comments below or yell at me on Twitter at @nickmeteorain

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Nick Maillet TechRaptor
| Former Lead Video Editor

When im not playing games Im working on TV shows as a colorist. You can find me on twitter posting pictures of my rabbit and other useless junk.