Fans of the Dune saga waiting for the latest movie adaptation might enjoy the following video games about feudal futures and desert planets.
The latest movie adaptation of Dune, the genre-transforming science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, is set for an October 2021 release date; impatient fans of the franchise can settle their restlessness by playing some of the Dune-like video games listed below. Each of these strategy games takes inspiration from the themes of the Dune novels in different ways – some focus on land battles across a harsh desert planet, others on the politics of interstellar empires ruled by aristocratic houses in a neo-feudal structure.
Many science fiction stories use their future settings to talk about the problems and challenges of the present. The Dune books explore the challenges of the present while also invoking the trappings of the ancient past. In the universe of Dune, Paul Atreides, the protagonist, is the son of a Duke from the one of the aristocratic Great Houses ruling the galaxy. AI is forbidden by religious law, and powerful portable deflector shields have brought swordplay and melee combat back into vogue. The alien spice called Melange, a substance that extends life and makes interstellar travel possible, is a stand-in for the pre-modern trade in spices along the Silk Road and modern’s society’s dependence on oil. And Arrakis, the desert planet where Melange is harvested, is inhabited by the Fremen people, a nomadic culture hardened by desert life and riders of the mighty desert Sandworms whose “barbarian toughness” threatens to run roughshod over the “decadent” aristocrats of the galaxy at large.
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The books of the Dune series have ben adapted into a number of different mediums. First, there was the surrealist 1984 David Lynch film and the 2000 and 2003 miniseries by the Sci-fi Channel, adapteding Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune, respectively. An upcoming comic spinoff of Dune 2021 will tell the story of a commando from the dreaded Imperial Sardaukar Corps. There are also a number of video games influenced by the themes and aesthetics of the Dune franchise, some more blatantly than others.
Video Game Like Dune – Dune II: The Building Of A Dynasty
Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty is an official Dune video game published by Westwood Games in 1992 and holds a notable place in video game history, being one of the first real-time strategy games. Players choose one of three Great Houses – the heroic House Atreides, the evil House Harkonnen, or the reclusive House Ordos – and try to take control of Arrakis by mining precious spice from the desert wastes, building facilities to construct infantry and combat vehicles, and destroying the armies and facilities of their rivals. The original Dune II RTS can be played nowadays using different kinds of emulation software, though its archaic gameplay might be jarring for modern gamers; a 1998 remake called Dune 2000 modernized the gameplay interface and introduced live-action cutscenes modeled after the 1984 Dune movie.
Video Game Like Dune – Homeworld: Deserts Of Kharak
Homeworld: Deserts Of Kharak, a prequel to the Homeworld RTS franchise, takes place on the desert world players depart from in the first Homeworld game. On the arid planet, whose habitable zones are shrinking year by year, a group of clans from the polar civilizations launch an expedition into the vast desert wastes of the equator, searching for buried ancient technology capable of saving their dying people. In many ways, Homeworld: Deserts Of Kharak plays like a more modern version of the Dune II RTS, with armies of dune buggies, tanks, mobile carriers, construction vehicles, and hovercraft fighting against rival clans and dangerous bands of desert nomads.
Video Game Like Dune – Crying Suns
The tactical sci-fi game Crying Suns, similar to the sci-fi rogue-lite FTL: Faster Than Light, takes place in a far-future galactic empire ruled by an immortal emperor, squabbling Great Houses, and miraculously powerful administrative AIs. The player takes on the role of a starship captain cloned from the genes of a legendary general, thawed out of stasis in a frontier Starbase, and sent on an expedition to find out why the empire has collapsed. The plot of Crying Suns has a lot of shout-outs to events from the original Dune novels: Protagonist Admiral Idaho is a particularly blatant homage to Duncan Idaho, a House Atreides sword-master who gets killed and resurrected through cloning over the course of multiple Dune books.
Video Game Like Dune – Alliance Of The Sacred Suns
Stellaris and other 4X strategy games about building interstellar empires frequently include copious Dune references, particularly when players are given the option to make their polity an anachronistic feudal aristocracy. The strategy game Alliance Of The Sacred Suns, set to be released on Steam later this year, leans particularly hard into this “futuristic feudalism” theme, described by many as a blend of Crusader Kings and the classic 4X title Masters Of Orion. Players portray the newly crowned ruler of an interstellar empire, working to revitalize their domain by recruiting capable officials, negotiating with rival powers, and building up both economic and military strength.
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