HBO's latest hit series, Westworld, returns for a second season tonight. Its first season was a critical darling telling thoughtful tales of human-AI interaction and conflict. In the opinion of this writer, it's a phenomenal show that checks all the boxes: characterization, mystery, action, romance, and deep philosophical commentary at the center. It actually unfolds quite like a video game, with the setting acting like an MMO in the real world, so if you're not watching it, you may enjoy catching up on season one now as season two is in its infancy. If you wish to just get the summary of the first season, this video does a great job of catching you up. No stranger to the robot uprising plot, video games have told similar tales very well over the years. Here are a few games to check out after Westworld's premiere is over and you're waiting a week to catch the next episode.
Though the legendary trilogy has many throughlines spanning its narrative, by the end one of those most prevalent is its organic versus inorganic divide. Species like the Quarians and their slave race turned revolters in the Geth make up a major plot point throughout the story and in typical Mass Effect fashion, you ultimately get to weigh in on this conflict and decide who's in the right.
Turing's best attribute is the way by which it so clearly spells out the value-alignment problem, as it was first called by Professor Stuart Russell. This problem identifies the risks in trying to imbue AI with human values, only to see them misunderstand those values when it matters most. Fans of Asimov's Three Rules will appreciate this one as well.
For a totally different look at human-AI relations, try this bombastic sequel, which doesn't pit humans so much against robots as it depicts humans against humans in a world where everyone has giant autonomous mechs on their team. It's lighter and certainly not offering the depth of thematic material like Westworld or some other games on this list, but if your favorite part of Westworld is its action moments, Titanfall 2 is the best pick.
This one is arguably the best fit for those looking for more brain food after Westworld, but to really discuss at length what makes it so good would border on spoilers. Suffice it to say, the Westworld and SOMA share their most involved themes of the nature of a self and consciousness. It's also terrifying though, so don't jump into it if horror isn't for you.
The Fall is a currently two-part series that focuses on an AI "puppet" eager to cut its own strings. In that way, it's the most like HBO's hit series, so if watching the robots of the western theme park come alive in a real way is the most interesting aspect of Westworld, this side-scrolling puzzle platformer is the closest you'll come to the series.
Picture Gears of War but with robots. That's Binary Domain. It's sadly not yet backwards compatible, so you'll need to still have your last gen console handy, but if you can meet that requirement, it's an action-packed story of corporate AI gone run amok. At this point, you may notice each game seems to pull a different attribute from HBO's series which shows you how many bases have been covered by games and just how multi-faceted the show already has become with just one season under its belt.
Fallout has a long-standing tradition of involving AI machines in its storylines, but none of the other games focus on it as much as Fallout 4. In post-apocalyptic Massachusetts, the philosophical and often quite literal war between humans and "synths" rages on. These synths look like and act humans but are considered secondary citizens residing in the uncanny valley — but an uprising is stirring. Sound familiar?
Enslaved plays sort of like what one could imagine Westworld's final season may look like: a post-human world where the few survivors have now become the slave race, under threat from their AI overlords. With great characters and an ending you'll at least not forget, if not appreciate, this is an AI-focused game that brings emotion, action, and mystery all in one.
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