There are the places we were always warned about, through folklore or stories. You struggle to survive not only from your enemies but also the city itself. From dark demons to oppressive alien regimes these ruthless cities offer you plenty of space to run but nowhere to hide. These cities offer its residence, nothing but utter desolation, hordes of monsters and men, all set on eliminating you. Its a constant struggle for survival in which you’d be lucky to find so much as a single friendly face.
1. Silent Hill (Silent Hill series)
As the piano starts to come to life your character starts to walk in in a thick fog, you spot figures in the distance that you can’t quite make out. The monsters are there in front of you, yet hidden as their silhouettes are only hinted at in the dense foggy streets only given away by your radio interference. The city is a trap in itself as you struggle to find keys in unlikely places, such as a random dog house, to run away from the increasing grotesque monsters as you hold on the the last bits of your scarce ammo. Silent Hill exists in two dimensions, our world and in the ‘Otherworld.’ A city that feeds on your fear. Twisting your anxieties and traumatic past into an inescapable nightmare. There is nothing worse than a city that affects the shape of the town and its monsters on the psyche and fears of each individual that enters Silent Hill.
2. Anor Londo (Dark Souls)
synonyms: splendid, spectacular, impressive, striking, glorious, superb, majestic, awesome, awe-inspiring, breathtaking
All these synonyms come to your mind as soon as you overcome those incredibly nerve wrecking archers and enter Anor Londo, a once beaming magnificent princely kingdom. Now, populated by spear bearing demons, and ofcourse the greatest bosses in the history of video gaming bosses, Ornstein and Smough, Anor Londo encompasses epic beauty, glory and legend. But something smears across this image Anor Londo portrays to the gamer, something darker, as if something that cannot be seen nor heard is just lurking around the around the corner. That lore, that tension, that fear, that uncomfortable silence, yet, that peace, that magnificence, Anor Londo mashes these two extremities and gives you something that is totally unique and quite like a beautiful dream where you end up dying in the end. This is where Dark Souls is at its very best. Our Editor Tathagata Ray did an entire editorial piece on how Anor Londo affected him as a human being.
3. Yharnam (Bloodborne)
Yharnam, the city of Bloodborne is a deadly trap. It is a complex maths formula that never fails to disappoint you, even if you are stuck and would want to explore out of your wits to discover a shorter route. From the ravens that stay prone on the ground and almost kill you with jumpscare to the giants who smash you in a blink with their hammer, the city will deduce you to ashes in seconds. And yet, it is one of the most richly laid out cities to be ever explored in a game world. Yharnam mixes both the forgotten faith and religion and the newer manifestation of a deadly nightmare. While Old Yharnam is reminiscent of the fallen hey days of the capital, Central Yharnam is home to the survivors of the once great city who live their days in complete madness. As the Hunter who is out to last the Night of the Hunt, you will be doing more than just hunting in order to leave your mark on Yharnam. And once you come towards the end of Bloodborne, you’ll realize – it is indeed the city to die for.
4. Arkham City (Batman: Arkham City)
Gritty, tense, insane, and there’s always crime around the corner: these four elements are what typically best describe the Arkham district of Gotham City. There’s the Arkham Prison with the most ruthless of convicts, looking for a way out only to level up in their criminal careers. Then there’s the Arkham Asylum, a place home to the Joker and Harvey Quinn. Its funny, but never have I ever seen sunshine in Arkham, the city is always dark. All corners look dingy, there are thugs almost everywhere. There are no children, no schools, no moms and dads, just people, psychotic people. Even the neon lights around the city ooze a negative narrative, then there’s litter, broker barrels, there is literally nothing in this city that’ll make you give the faintest of smiles.
5. City 17 (Half-Life series)
“Welcome to City 17. It’s safer here.” Dr. Wallace Breen smiles calmly down addressing the depressed citizens on a large screen monitor. City 17 was a grand city taken over by the Combine as their main headquarters on Earth. Any resistance to the rule of the alien combine is met with raids and confrontations by the Civil Protection Force. The city and canals are filled will not only humans but head crabs, barnacles and zombies. From the 20 years spanning Half-Life to Half-Life 2, when we get to revisit the city humans are nearly extinct with most major urban centres empty. With only City 17 and few others cities like it left as habitable places for the remaining people the Combine have rounded them up in a few controllable areas.