If you’re on the hunt for the next PC games to spend hours on, then you might consider some of the best PC games from Asian American creators. It’s more crucial now than ever before to show your support for minorities in this country, and there are a number of ways to do so, from donating to important minority causes to supporting minority-owned businesses. But, did you know that you can also show your support through gaming?
Although Asians are still severely underrepresented in video games, despite the fact that Asia Pacific still dominates the gaming market, Asian Americans are showing up behind the scenes in a number of ways. Whether as the sole or lead developer, music composer or art director, quite a few Asian American talents are behind some of the best PC games right now.
We gathered the 10 best PC games that Asian American creators helped weave into existence to help you show your support. Just in time for PC Gaming Week, all these titles are highly-praised, and many of them are among the best PC games right now.
1. Atom Zombie Smasher
Dire scenes from this recent pandemic are eerily reminiscent of zombie apocalypse depictions in mainstream cinema, so many can’t help but draw comparisons. Of course, if it were, it would probably be the lamest zombie apocalypse ever. So, why not while the time away surviving a more exciting version of it in Atom Zombie Smasher?
This indie strategy smash hit was created and designed by Culver City’s independent developer Blendo Games, which is essentially a one-man effort by game designer Brendon Chung whose past projects include The Lord of the Rings: Conquest and Citizen Abel. And, it sees you right in the middle of a zombie apocalypse tasked with protecting civilians from being eaten alive by zombie hordes.
It sounds like an impossible job, until of course you find out that you have your pick of military assets to do it, from infantry and snipers to actual heavy artillery – because obviously, there’s no other way to survive zombie hordes, even if The Walking Dead tells you otherwise. Despite that, this game is still very challenging, thanks to its incredibly smart AI. But, don’t worry, as that only makes successful missions in Atom Zombie Smasher all the more satisfying.
Japanese-American Laura Shigihara wears quite a few creative hats – video game music composer, singer-songwriter, even developer – and is best-known for her composing chops in Plants vs. Zombies. But, for the sake of this guide, we’re putting the spotlight on Rakuen, the indie adventure game she created.
If you sometimes daydream of escaping to a fantastical land where you embark on your own hero’s quest – who doesn’t? – then this roleplaying sprite-based adventure game might just be what the boredom doctor ordered.
Rakuen, which has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, means paradise is Japanese and has you setting foot on a whimsical (and musical) world where you go off on a grand adventure. As the main character, a sick boy in a hospital, you are tasked to complete a set of challenges, all so that the Guardian of the Forest grants you one wish.
It sounds like a lot of work for a single wish, but in Rakuen, it’s the rich, musical, heartwarming journey that matters most. Most video games aren’t exactly known for compelling narratives, but this one’s among the few exceptions.
- Buy Rakuen on Steam
Sunny Southern California native Derek Yu hasn’t done anything in a while under his personal studio, Mossmouth, as far as indie video games are concerned. But, we’re forever indebted to him for his arguably biggest contribution yet: Spelunky.
It’s only one of the best indie games ever created, and years after its development, it’s still very much relevant. That’s because it’s not only an incredibly entertaining game, but it’s also among the earliest examples of roguelike gaming in video game history.
This 2D indie platformer sees you as a spelunker tasked with exploring procedurally-generated caves and the underground world to fight monsters, dodge traps and, naturally, collect treasures. Because when you’re risking your life, Indiana Jones-style, you might as well bring home the loot.
If this sounds like a dry and tedious one-dimensional game to you, think again. Spelunky is "Roguelike" platforming at its very best, so you never know what you’re getting in the next level. And, you will die multiple times in many creative – and at times, hilarious – ways. Need a hand? It’s even got local co-op available so up to four others can join you on your adventure.
- Purchase on Spelunky on Steam
4. Into the Breach
While fairly new and one of the latest released games on this list, Into the Breach feels deliciously nostalgic, with its retro art style and simple gameplay reminiscent of the 90s. But, don’t let that humble facade fool you. Into the Breach boasts several accolades and nominations under its belt.
The brainchild of Chinese Taiwanese American artist and video game designer Justin Ma, and his Subset Games partner, Matthew Davis, this turn-based strategy game is lauded for many things, from its design to its difficulty, reimagining the genre in such innovative ways. Ask any gamer, and they’ll tell you that this is one of the most exceptionally designed games out there, indie or otherwise.
That’s saying a lot, especially considering how beautifully simple the gameplay is. In Into the Breach, you’re tasked with saving the world from gargantuan monsters coming out of the ground.
All you need to do is analyze attacks, use buildings to power your weapons, and use strategic moves to defeat the enemies and defend your cities. Sounds easy enough, if not for the fact that the game itself is pretty challenging. Trust us; you won’t be skating through this one.
- Purchase Into the Breach on Steam
Jenova Chen and his team of creators at Thatgamecompany in Santa Monica, CA, have a knack for weaving such spectacular yet so incredibly minimalist games. Flower, also among our most favorite indie games here at TechRadar, is a testament to that. As is Journey, which the company only rolled out for PC in 2019.
In this game, you’re playing a robed figure, setting off on a Homeric adventure across a vast desert, gliding across sand dunes, exploring ruins, and at times, thanks to your magical scarf, soaring over landscapes. Your mission is simple: to discover the secrets of a once-magnificent civilization.
This indie adventure title is more like a masterpiece than it is a video game, and it’s unique in more than just one aspect. For one, the game doesn’t have any spoken dialogue.
There are other players in the game with whom you can collaborate, but the only way to communicate with them through the course of the game is with a shout or note, which stays in tune with the music. It might feel strange at first, but the whole point of Journey is, well, the journey itself, and this is just among the many idiosyncrasies it boasts to keep you immersed and in awe.
- Purchase Journey on Steam
6. Even the Ocean
After the success of Anodyne, artist Marina Kittaka collaborated once again with programmer Melos Han Tani to develop narrative action platformer Even the Ocean. The two designed, co-wrote and developed this popular indie title themselves, with Melos even composing the soundtrack, and we’re all about their partnership.
In Even the Ocean, you play a power plant technician tasked with restoring the balance between light and dark energies after it’s been tipped due to a routine maintenance trip that goes awry, destabilizing Whiteforge City. To do so, you must travel through a weird and quirky yet very familiar world. The gameplay, however, is much richer and more complex as you meet travelers, make powerful allies and face environmental issues.
Combine those with a female protagonist who challenges gender norms with her job and a solid collaboration between two Asian American creators, and you’ve got yourself a game that is as compelling and as felicitous now as it was when it hit the streets in 2016.
7. Outer Wilds
You might know Masi Oka from such shows as Heroes and Hawaii Five-0, but there’s more to this Japanese-American actor than meets the eye. In 2015, he founded Mobius Digital, and he, creative director Alex Beachum and their small team started developing first-person space exploration and the studio’s very first game, Outer Wilds, which saw a 2019 release. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Now available on Steam, Outer Wilds has garnered a handful of nominations, quite a few wins and a whole lot of acclaim, thanks to its beautiful and distinctive narrative, stunning art style and compelling gameplay. Plus, if we’re being honest, who hasn’t fantasized about going on their own space exploration? That alone makes this title an ace in our books.
Of course, in space, things are never simple. There’s no combat, no skills to hone, no abilities to acquire in Outer Wilds. There is, however, a time limit. The galaxy you’re in is, after all, stuck in a time loop so you’ve only got 22 minutes at a time to explore before the whole thing resets. That’s not the only catch: you’re doing that in an open world setting as well, with quite a few planets to explore and a broken timeline to fix. If this game doesn’t keep you entertained for weeks, we don’t know what will.
8. Sunset Overdrive
As apocalypses seem to be on-brand these days, we’re adding Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive to the mix. While its lead developers aren’t Asian Americans, the artist behind this extremely vibrant, post-apocalyptic open world game is none other than Jacinda Chew. She’s not only Insomniac Games’ Senior Art Director, but she’s also the artist behind such epic titles as Marvel's Spider-Man and Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction.
Sunset Overdrive was, of course, originally an Xbox One game, but it did make its way to PC in 2018, so PC gamers can now run around, scale walls, grind power lines and leap off buildings, no holds barred.
You, of course, do all that in Sunset City, all the while battling gang members, mutated humans dubbed the Overcharge Drinkers, and harder-to-defeat bosses, though obviously not without your hyper-agility and your slew of awesome, if unconventional by video game standards, weapons like fireworks, acid and harpoons.
Bored of playing on your own? It’s also got its own co-op multiplayer mode, the Chaos Squad, so you can join seven other players on missions. Because, as we’ve recently found out, a world that has just survived an apocalypse – or something akin to it – can be a rather lonely place.
9. Battle Chef Brigade
If Battle Chef Brigade sort of reminds us of Miyazaki’s work or Avatar: The Last Airbender, that’s only because they served as inspiration for this 2017 brawler from Trinket Studios. Just ask Eric Huang, co-founder of Trinket and the main creative mind behind this puzzle-based cooking game’s art styling and gameplay.
Besides its wistful aesthetic, there’s quite a lot to love about this game, not least of which is its combination of hunting and cooking gameplay. This isn’t your typical tile-matching cooking game; it makes you hunt and catch the ingredients for culinary entries to high stakes cooking tournaments and cook-offs. To cook your dishes, you must match flavor gems – the more gems you match, the higher quality those dishes are.
Hungry for more? You can even play against friends in its local multiplayer mode. Battle Chef Brigade is one of the most charming games right now, and if you don’t take that trip to Victusia, you’ll definitely miss out.
- Purchase Battle Chef Brigade Deluxe on Steam
10. Titanfall 2
Steve Fukuda, formerly of Infinity Ward, is no stranger to first-person shooters. The creative director at Respawn Entertainment was, after all, a lead designer for the Call of Duty series – that is, until Modern Warfare 2. He went on to become the lead designer for Respawn’s Titanfall series whose multiplayer FPS gameplay has received critical acclaim.
The follow up, Titanfall 2, takes the original’s dive into mech-driven multiplayer warfare then adds a single-player campaign to expand on the first’s world-building. The game also takes the already rock solid multiplayer experience that made the original so well received to the next level.
With new Titans, pilot abilities, and more customization than the first game, Titanfall 2 is, in a lot of ways, much better than the original. On its own, it’s a gorgeous looking game that gets the blood pumping with its fast paced gameplay.
- Buy Titanfall 2
TechRadar’s PC Gaming Week 2020 is celebrating the most powerful gaming platform on Earth with articles, interviews and essential buying guides that showcase how diverse, imaginative, and remarkable PC games – and gamers – can be. Visit our PC Gaming Week 2020 page to see all our coverage in one place.
- Check out the best PC games of 2020