Amazon’s The Boys is a dark subversive take on the superhero genre, and there are a few video games that should scratch the same itch for fans.
Superheroes are beacons of justice and rightiousness, but more series have started to subvert those tropes over times. One of the most brilliant subversions of the superhero genre is Amazon’s The Boys. The series puts a dark twist on heroes, showing how those in such a position of power would abuse it.
The Boys has drawn a lot of attention with just two seasons, and it doesn’t shy away from violence and mature themes. There isn’t a one-to-one equivalent to The Boys in video games, but there are still some similar experiences.
Whether it’s based on an existing property or an original IP, there are a handful of games that have tried to put a unique twist on the superhero genre. These are games that anyone who’s a fan of The Boys should try out.
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The inFamous games are some of the most well-known superhero titles out there, and they’re also the best example of working morality into the experience. The first two games follow a deliveryman named Cold McGrath, as he gains superpowers from a terrible accent. In the world of inFamous people with superpowers are labeled as bioterrorists, and hunted down by a government agency called the Department of Unified Protection.
Morality grows more complex as the series goes on, but players are presented with good and evil choices that grant karma. Depending on if players are good or evil the main character’s powers will change. Good powers tend to let players incapacitate enemies or traverse the city better, while evil powers become more destructive. While players can certainly be a “hero of the people” in inFamous, they can also go the other way and look out for only themselves.
Prototype immediately casts players into a violent world, with the city of Manhattan wracked by a plague called Blacklight. The first game stars an amnesiac hero named Alex Mercer, who has the mysterious ability to transform his body into deadly weapons, as well as consume anyone and impersonate them. Mercer is an anti-hero in every sense of the word, and his main goal is to learn about his past and try to cure himself. ‘
Prototype gives players the ability to bound across the city with ease, running up skyscrapers and jumping entire blocks in one jump. The powers in Prototype are the main draw, as there’s a ton of options for decimating and destroying enemies. There’s also some nice variation in mission design, and players often have to impersonate and consume specific NPCs. Although Prototype can feel a bit generic at times, there’s still an interesting story underneath filled with government conspiracies. The sequel takes an interesting twist by making Alex Mercer the main antagonist and putting players in the shoes of a new hero.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Injustice is one of the most violent superhero games out there, developed by the renowned studio behind the Mortal Kombat series. It’s a much darker take on the DC Universe, which has already been known for getting pretty grim at times. The story of Injustice starts when the Joker tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane, who’s also pregnant at the time. This sends Superman down a spiral that results in him becoming a ruthless dictator who forms the One Earth Regime.
Despite being a fighting game Injustice is surprisingly story-heavy, with hours of cutscenes that are packed with content for DC fans. The story goes to some surprising places, and it helps set up climactic battles between heroes. Injustice 2 improved on nearly everything the first game did, putting an even heavier focus on narrative and presentation. The second game has a massive roster of over 30 characters, with the DLC adding on even more options. For anyone looking for a darker twist on the most well-known superheroes out there, Injustice is a perfect pick.
The Punisher is one of the darkest superhero stories out there, and the series is renowned for extreme violence, whether that’s in the comic books or the Punisher Netflix show. The Punisher also received an original PS2 game in 2004, with a story that’s a combination of the live-action films and the comics. It’s a pretty standard stealth shooter most of the time, but the unique feature of The Punisher comes with interrogation spots scattered throughout levels. At certain points players can use violent interrogation and torture to get useful information from enemies. These interactive segments show the utter brutality of The Punisher, as one scene has him holding someone right over a wood chipper and another sees him pushing someone’s face into a jet engine. The game leans into the comic book ridiculousness of the character, and it’s just the kind of dark and violent experience fans would expect from The Punisher.
The Darkness is a comic series published by Top Cow Productions, and it follows a New York mafia member named Jackie Estacado. On his 21st birthday Jackie inherits the power of a cosmic entity known as the Darkness. The video game, and its sequel, is based on the comic series, and features the same level of hyper violence. The Darkness is a sentient presence that craves violence, and constantly badgers Jackie throughout the game. Using his new powers Jackie works to take down his uncle’s criminal organization. It’s an incredibly dark and bloody game, and Jackie only gains the power of the Darkness after committing suicide.
Jackie certainly isn’t a superhero in the traditional sense, but he does have a variety of powers at his disposal. The Darkness tells a phenomenal story filled with emotion, and it’s a bit unique as a superhero game because of its first-person shooter gameplay.
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