The 1960s is a decade in which video games and movies always seem to come back. The way people dressed, the good music they listened to, and the pastel colors that appeared on restaurants and Cadillacs all seemed to define the era. The decade also hosted some of gaming’s best stories. In fact, even games that don’t necessarily take place in this specific time frame have always been inspired by this time period.
A retro-futuristic game like Fallout New Vegas, set in the year 2281, clearly draws inspiration from the 1960s, primarily through your Pip-Boy’s music and the wardrobe options you can select during your playthrough. It was a period that offered players some truly exceptional games, which relied on what the decade had to offer for most of its success. Here are some of the best.
seven 007: From Russia with love
Set in 1963, Bond is back to save the world. Unlike GoldenEye, From Russia with Love is an entirely third-person game. Developed by Electronic Arts and released in 2005, Bond takes on an organization called Octopus. 007 is challenged to bring down the entire organization, and it’s a game full of fun, over-the-top action. You can even use a jetpack, and a coin allows you to shoot down a helicopter inside.
The game is set in Russia, and it certainly lives up to the aesthetics and feel. There are missions where you find yourself behind the wheel of a 1960s Aston Martin, as you make your way through towns full of other cars from the decade.
Set during the Cold War, you play as Naked Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3. An underrated title within the series, Snake Eater is a game that really hits the mark. The filming is fun and the cutscenes are superb.
Metal Gear Solid 3 is frankly ahead of its time. This game doesn’t have an actual 60s setting like some of the other games on this list. Nonetheless, it focuses on the real Cold War. After an American nuclear weapon is fired at the Soviets, Naked Snake is sent to kill The Boss and right the mistakes that were made. Metal Gear Solid 3 takes a different take on the ’60s than most on this list. Instead of fun music and fancy clothes, this game puts you in the middle of the terrible war that culminated in this decade.
5 Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 is a beautiful game with a fun and quirky art style. This is a multiplayer game set in the late 1960s. It is team-based with different classes to choose from, all with their own unique abilities and design. Team Fortress 2 undeniably thrived when it released in October 2007. While there’s no story to deepen and flesh out the 60s setting, the tones are still there in the multiplayer.
Character design is where the era shines the most. The Spy’s costume and gun resemble the Sean Connery Bond films of the early 60s. The Medic’s long white coat with red patches on the arms shows strong similarities to Doctors and even Doctors of the decade. And of course, the soldier comes complete with his oversized shirt and baggy pants, topped with a primitive helmet – all compiled to be similar to the gear a soldier wore back in the day.
4 We are happy some
Perhaps the most promising premise on this list, We Happy Few was developed by Compulsion Games and is set in a drug-infused town in 1960s England. Each person is obliged to take his Joy – a happy pill that quietly and inevitably does some pretty bad things.
We Happy Few is one of the few games that really feels like the 60s. Everything from the classic look of the characters to the world you run away from is spot on. As soon as the loading screen appears, you’ll understand that you’re now back in the 1960s. It’s a scary yet exhilarating game, and it’s a true masterclass of ongoing gameplay. You’ll grab your controller until the credits roll.
3 Death Loop
Released in 2021 for PlayStation, and later in 2022 for Xbox, Deathloop is a first-person shooter set in the 1960s with a time-loop gameplay mechanic. Games published by Bethesda certainly love pulling from the 60s – the themes they use for the Fallout series in particular are clearly inspired by the decade.
Developed by sister studio Arkane, Deathloop ushers in a fresh take on the somewhat monotonous first-person shooter genre. You play as Colt, an assassin trapped in a loop that lasts an entire day. The buckle setting gives off a 60s feel, and the wonky guns and bright, intense colors reinforce that. It’s not only a phenomenal game, but also a terrific use of the era.
2 Mafia 3
Set in 1968, Mafia 3 follows a man named Lincoln Clay who seeks revenge against the local mob who killed his parents. Mafia 3 is undoubtedly one of the best representations of the 1960s in gaming.
Everything from the cars and wardrobe to the weapons used are authentic. The speedometer at the bottom of your screen while driving is an unnecessary extra touch, but a detail that stands out from other games of the era. It positions this game as a perfectly designed in-game watch.
When you think of games set in the 1960s, only one proper title immediately comes to mind. Although every game on this list is set in the decade, the quintessence The ’60s video game has to be BioShock. Developers Irrational Games and 2K Marin created a truly unique and unforgettable game that helped create two other fantastic games to follow.
The lone survivor of a plane crash in the Atlantic Ocean, Jack unearths a lost city sunken beneath the sea. When he enters the city, things get weird right away. Jack finds himself on the run from almost everyone in town – people andthe idiosyncratic beasts that inhabit it. BioShock impresses you with its level design, but makes you move instantly due to fear. You want to explore breathtaking locations, but not for too long because it’s unclear what might attack you next. BioShock is a game with some seriously scary moments and a decidedly top notch world design.
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