Lordran from Dark Souls and 8 other darkest video game worlds

Post-apocalyptic games have always been popular, with massive successes like Fallout 4 and Exodus metro attracting thousands of players to their dark and inhospitable worlds. From nuclear wastelands to war-torn cities, these depressing worlds are often the most exciting to explore.

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However, these dark dystopias are not created equal, as it takes a lot of work and attention to detail to create a truly immersive experience in a video game universe. The best of these desolate worlds often serves as a stunning backdrop to terrifying monsters, well-written characters, and gripping tales.

9 Lordran – Dark Souls

A screenshot of two demons looking at a large cathedral in Dark Souls 3.

It makes sense that the terrifying and powerful enemies of Dark souls would live in the dangerous mysterious lands of Lordran. With the light of the First Flame fading, the once perennial realms have been transformed into a nightmarish hellish landscape, full of restless undead.

Navigate the labyrinthine dungeons and treacherous forests of Dark souls is always a nerve-racking experience as players never know what may be lurking in the dark. Although there are sometimes pockets of beauty like the streams and waterfalls of the catacombs, most of the realms of Lordran are bleak and inhospitable.

8 Wasteland of the Russian Federation – Metro Exodus

A still image showing a snow-covered Russian wasteland with a bloodied mask in the foreground in Metro: Exodus.

Following the events of Metro last light and Metro 2035, players experience a dark cityscape in the height of winter at the start of the game. Artyom is not at all bothered by this, as the inhabitants of this world have become accustomed to the post-nuclear war setting.

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Dilapidated buildings, unstable bridges and obstructed pathways are all ingeniously integrated into the gameplay. There is also no escape from the mutated monsters, as they roam both the surface and the filthy sewers, ready to attack at any moment. The only respite from the war-torn setting is the changing of the seasons, with the onset of spring adding some much-needed life to the barren world. This is short-lived, however, and Artyom is quickly plunged back into the harshness of winter before players even realize fall is almost over.

7 Sera – Gears 5

A soldier watches the burning urban wasteland of Sera in the Gears of War 5 video game.

Gears 5 is the sixth installment in the third-person shooter series, the Weaponry of war. It’s still a popular franchise today, even with the cancellation Gears games arousing the interest of fans. Gears 5 is definitely a fan favorite, as it used thoughtful storytelling to delve into Kait Diaz’s chaotic past and his role in The Swarm.

The game is set in Sera – an Earth-like planet that was destroyed by the Locust Horde, which will later reappear as the Deadliest Swarm. The crumbling buildings and frozen wasteland only add to the dire situation for the inhabitants of Sera, who must contend with dangerous creatures, constant windstorms, and various environmental issues all at once. Fortunately, the forests are starting to come back to life again, but these patches of greenery are small compared to the irreversibly damaged land masses around the world.

6 The Zone – STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl

A split image of a smoky factory and abandoned park with a Ferris wheel in Shadow of Chernobyl.

After a second nuclear explosion at Chernobyl, the surrounding areas, also known as the Zone, begin to show strange changes caused by radiation. In The shadow of Chernobyl, Stalkers are tasked with exploring these anomalies and will likely encounter mutated plants, animals, and even humans along the way.

As if fending off horribly disfigured humans weren’t enough, players will also have to make their way through irradiated swamps, dying forests, and dilapidated buildings. There is a thick fog that almost always encompasses all areas, which helps the game accomplish the dark atmosphere the creators were probably aiming for.

5 The Desert – Fallout 4

An image of an abandoned town with a tree in the center in the Fallout 4 video game.

from Bethesda Fallout 4 is one of the most popular post-apocalyptic games of all time, and it owes much of its success to its vast irradiated world. Fallout 4The gripping storylines of wouldn’t be so immersive if it weren’t for the depressing landscape of the Wasteland.

Often referred to as trash, the drylands that make up most of the game are a direct result of humanity literally burning the earth with nuclear weapons. The inhospitable mountains and coastal areas of Fallout 4 are also home to some of the most gruesome creatures. These monstrous enemies seem to be the only ones who truly thrive in these environments – blood flies, radscorpions, and mole rats live their best lives in the ruins of humanity.

4 Cvstodia – blasphemous

A split image of a knight kneeling in front of a cliff and a knight on a statue in Blasphemous.

This Metroidvania action platformer follows the story of the Penitent as he navigates the dark world of Cvstodia. As indicated by his name, Blasphemous has a lot of religious themes, with players tasked with performing their ultimate penance. Along the way there are scenes of medieval torture, crucifixion and even the stake.

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The Gothic region of Cvstodia is filled with dilapidated churches and dying forests. The more jarring parts of the game often appear unexpectedly throughout the region. There are macabre blasphemous statues and bloody encounters that make each area more exciting (if not a little terrifying) to explore. In a level background, a player can witness a cliff full of tormented souls struggling to break free from their rocky entrapment. It’s visuals like this that expertly create an eerie world of damned souls and relentless sadness.

3 The Desert – Mad Max

An image of Mad Max in the back of his car driving through the Wasteland in the Mad Max video game.

The underrated criminal Mad Max The game has its own version of a Wasteland where players have to work to get junk and resources to build the ultimate war vehicle and escape to a better place. To stay alive, Max must protect his interceptor, find fuel, and fight a constant onslaught from Marauders.

Players who saw the 2015 film probably already know what to expect from this Wasteland. In this arid desert where vehicles reign, there is no respite from the dazzling sun and endless sand dunes. What little man-made structures remain barely stand, with the world’s crumbling buildings seeming more useful as junk than as shelter. The result is a game that truly captures the look and feel of Mad MaxThe iconic cinematic desert of Wasteland: simple, ruthless and brutal, much like the protagonist himself.

2 Hell – Agony

Winged demons transport tortured souls to hell in the video game Agony.

Agony Left a lot to be desired when it was released in 2018. The messy gameplay and endless bugs drew negative comments from gamers who just wanted to have a good time in Hell. Fortunately, the game has improved a lot since then, and those who enjoy dark survival horror games might want to give it another chance.

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As a tormented soul navigating Hell, players must face both demons and other lost souls in this nightmarish environment. The world is constantly on fire and horrible creatures seem to appear from all corners. Players will meet the doomed in the darkest caverns and push back the celestials who gloat from their bloodstained thrones. While the gameplay is flawed, the immersive location and impressive depth of detail make it Agony a game worthy of experience.

1 Graznavia – This war of mine

An image of the interior of a dilapidated house with someone on the second floor in This War of Mine.

This war-themed game takes players away from the front lines and into shelters, where civilians struggle to stay alive. This war of mine is a survival and strategy game, where players must work to manage resources in the war-torn fictional town of Pogoren in Graznavia.

During the day, players must avoid the snipers by staying in the dilapidated shelter housing the survivors. This inhospitable makeshift house, with its broken walls and shoddy staircases, looks like it is on the verge of collapse at any moment, which is why constant repairs are needed. At night, players can venture out and explore the even more devastated cityscape, which is rendered in exquisite detail by the detailed graphics of the game which successfully conveys the war-torn status of Pogoren. With fires burning in the distance and building ruins blocking out most directions, it’s a terrifying representation of how devastating war can be.

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