Games with the strongest atmosphere

  • I am going to start things off by saying atmosphere doesn't only mean a dark atmosphere. And then I am going to go dark anyway and say the original Diablo is absolutely thick with atmosphere.

    I should then mention something not quite so dark. The Mother series (all three games), absolutely ooze atmosphere, whatever the atmosphere of the current area in the game may be. I think the downright quirkiness of the games somehow enhances this.

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the atmosphere alone scared the crap out of me.

  • Final Fantasy XIV. I'm not really a big fan of all the MMO mechanics but it really does create an atmosphere that feels alive. Some of the towns are just jolly all around. Then when they have certain festivals with everyone around popping fireworks? Some magical stuff right there.

  • Scorn: an atmospheric first person horror adventure game set in a nightmarish universe of odd forms and somber tapestry

  • Silent Hill 1 through 3 all have very different, yet very powerful, atmospheres.

    Eternal Darkness is also rather great at that, especially Maximillien's chapter, it's downright bone-chilling thanks to the game's brilliant writing, voice-over performances, and visual design.

  • Okami! That game just wraps you in. Some other's that come to mind are Pikmin 3 and Persona 3/Persona 4. With Pikmin 3, the mixture of detailed environments and a superb soundscape make you feel like your looking down on something going on in your own backyard. With the Persona games, the day cycle and life sim elements make Tatsumi Port Island and Inaba start to feel like home very quickly.

  • I'll second the votes for the first 3 Silent Hill games. Each one covers everything from creepy to straight-up horrifying.

    If you're open to walking simulators, Everyone's Gone to the Rapture has great atmosphere. Everything's dripping with an unsettling peacefulness. Gone Home also has very good atmosphere. Walking through that house just feels like the early 90's.

    And Bloodborne, of course.

  • Half Life 2 is the most atmospheric game that I have played. The oppressive nature of the Combine can be felt on every city street.

  • The entire S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series has some of the most atmospheric open world environments I've ever seen in a video game.
    The wasteland environment fills you with curiosity and dread as you explore it, and you're never really quite safe out in the open, with the constant danger of hazardous weather or dangerous creatures.
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    You can kind of tell that the developers were limited budget-wise, but they've really managed to create a world that feels alive (as alive as a wasteland can be)

    Bring back S.T.A.L.K.E.R!

  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask comes to mind. Every day in the three day cycle, the moon in the sky gets closer to the ground, and in the town right underneath it, the music changes with every day. Everyone in town goes from trying to ignore the moon, to admitting that it's a concern, to flat out leaving the town, leaving it nearly empty on day three. And this is just Clock Town. The game has so many areas and characters who add to the sense of dread of what is to come when the moon falls.

    Despite all that, the game does not feel like a super dark, dreary game the whole time. There is still lots of lighthearted and whimsy to it.

  • Alien: Isolation has an incredible atmosphere. Feels like you're in the original movie. I spent the first twenty minutes gawking at every little thing in the environment.

    Oblivion... the music makes this game's atmosphere. Just walking around the world is an incredible feeling. I know they were going for a more harsh and brooding tone with Skyrim... but it just didn't captivate me like Oblivion did.

    Mirror's Edge is in incredibly well realized world. I think that's one of the reasons it was so beloved by a lot of people. The music definitely helped with this one as well but the world design was very sleek and striking too.

    Bloodborne. Do I even need to say more? Absolutely bursting at the seams with atmosphere.

    The Mass Effect Trilogy. I still remember the first time I walked around the Citadel in the original Mass Effect. Such a well realized science fiction world. It's not easy building a world with a rich and interesting history but Mass Effect nailed it.

    The Spyro Trilogy. I have a soft spot for this series but I still have vivid and fond memories of these games. The art style, the music, the animations... just a joy to play through these games.

  • I have just never gotten around to playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R which must seem crazy, but it's partially due to my aversion to playing first person games.

  • Since it hasn't been mentioned I'll add Dead Space to the list.

    I think that game nailed not only the creepy horror atmosphere, but also just the feeling of being on a working-class ship in outer space. Not to mention the sections with zero gravity and (ironically) a literal lack of atmosphere were done really well and added a unique feel to the game.

  • BioShock - It truly feels like an actual place that has fallen so far from its original intent. The environmental storytelling adds to the feeling that it has all fallen apart and will completely collapse at any moment. The people corrupted the city then it corrupted them. Everything about the game feels broken or like it is about to break. The clunky machinery, water seeping in through every little crack and pooling on the floor. The dirt, so much dirt everywhere. The citizens that are left are also equally broken and twisted like the city they helped build. The Splicers destroy everything in their path all for that next hit. The recordings you find tell the tale of Rapture's rise and fall and you can't help but listen mouth agape that such an idea of pure intent could be warped so much.

    I love it so much!

    Also you can now look at it as the picture of the future for the UK thanks to Brexit! FUN TIMES!

    Pokémon X & Y - The Kalos region is a beautifully idealised version of Paris and its surrounding areas and it stands apart from the other Pokémon games because of it. The quite cafés and trendy clothes shops. The quaint houses in the more rural areas. The metropolitan hussle and bussle of the city with its many landmarks. The remnants of the past being hidden in the little nooks and crannies of the world. It is all there and it gives the game a great light atmosphere where fun and adventure are around every corner. It also features a Pokémon that is a literal bag of trash which reminds me of walking through London on bin day when there are just mountains of bin bags piled up in the middle of the street.

  • Strategy games don't usually get involved in conversations about Atmosphere, but I've found the new Hearts of Iron IV (And traditionally most Paradox Grand Strategy games) to have a really nice atmosphere in game.

    Considering all you are doing is looking at a map with menu's and music playing, you really have to do a good job to get the player to feel deeply engrossed in World War 2.

    See Video - All of the little audio cues when selecting units or menu buttons, its all very satisfying and feels like the appropriate sound.

    Fair warning to anyone not familiar, Paradox Grand Strategy games are PC Only, and require several hours to simply get familiar with the interface enough to play. Even then, after 20 hours you'll only feel like a beginner in the game.

  • SMTIV- has such a odd tone of classic knights mixed with modern demon infested tokyo. Moral quandries in the game really drive home the desperation.

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  • I think Bioshock Infinite has some of the strongest atmosphere in gaming. There were plenty of times that I found myself not progressing the story because I was looking at the paintings on the walls or storefront windows. Also, being mesmerized with the statues where they glorify John Wilkes Booth.

    Shenmue is another series with incredible atmosphere. It doesn't only feel like a living world, it is a living world. The townsfolk go about their days, you have to visit shops at certain times in order to go in them and each town/city in both games feel different with their own personality.

  • Easily STALKER

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    The most atmospheric and immersive game in history.

  • Fable was so good. That story, that world, that soundtrack by Danny Elfman. You're just getting addicted in seconds.

  • Global Moderator

    I really enjoyed zones in World of Warcraft! playing it for hours and hours there were some zones who just made me feel.. happy! wanting to just hang out there and take it all in! like the night elf starting area with the music, quests, npcs and all makes it beautiful and a bit mysterious!

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