The most memorable alternate histories in video games


This week, Destructoid is made possible by KATANA KAMI: A Way of the Samurai Story, an isometric hack-and-slash dungeon crawler with over 100 different weapons, nine unique fighting styles, co-op, and the series’ patented ability to betray or ally with the game’s three factions. This is a sponsored post.

We already took a look back at the history of The Way of the Samurai series, but as KATANA KAMI takes place in a fantastical alternate history, now’s a good time to also look back at various games that changed up the history books.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Command & Conquer Red Alert alternate histories

It should come as no surprise that many alternate histories revolve around World War II, but few kicked things off with a non-cheese live-action cinematic and badass opening like Command & Conquer: Red Alert.

The game actually takes place just after World War II, with Albert Einstein sending himself back in time from 1946 to 1924. There, he meets Hitler just as he’s released from Landsberg Prison. With a shake of the hand, Hitler is erased from the timeline. With a new set of circumstances, Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, begins a conquest to conquer Europe.

Essentially, it’s World War II all over again, just without Hitler. You control the U.S. and various countries in Europe as they utilize guerrilla warfare to beat the Soviet threat.


Scythe alternate histories

Scythe is a tabletop strategy game that received a Steam port not too long ago. The game takes place in the 1920s, but a quick look at the art adorning the game board shows that it’s not the 20s talked about in history books.

Following the first Great War – presumably something akin to World War I – “The Factory,” a capitalist city-state responsible for building the mechs that fought in the war, has closed production. In the barren wastes of 1920s Europa, you play as one of five Eastern European factions, all building their way towards conquering The Factory.


BioShock alternate histories

BioShock, in many ways, is a thought experiment on what would happen if Ayn Rand got her way. Rand pioneered a philosophical system known as Objectivism, which championed the mentality in the underwater utopia of Rapture. After suffering a plane crash, you awaken to find a lighthouse, which leads to the underwater city.

Set in this alternate history in 1960, BioShock sends you through the aftermath of an Objectivist society gone wrong. The once elite patrons of Rapture have become drug-addicted maniacs, hooked on a DNA-altering substance known as ADAM. You play as Jack, who dives deeper into Rapture to uncover its secrets and stop its leader, Andrew Ryan.

Assassin’s Creed

Assassins Creed alternate histories

The story of Assassin’s Creed is messy, combining real-world events, fiction, and conspiracy theories under one roof. The game actually begins in 2012, where a modern Knights Templar, operating under the name “Abstergo Industries,” builds a machine that allows people to relive important events in history.

The Knights Templar want to go back in time to find the location of the “Pieces of Eden,” a series of historical artifacts that allow them to control free will. As part of the ancient group of the Assassins, you must oppose the Templars from obtaining these artifacts. This journey takes place over multiple points in history, including the Italian Renaissance, Ming Dynasty, and Victorian Era.



Perhaps one of the best known alternate reality games is Fallout. Like many other alternate reality titles, Fallout takes place after World War II. Following the war, the transistor, a semiconductor device used to control electrical signals, was never invented. Because of that, many modern inventions run on nuclear fuel, leading to many of the strange devices seen in the Fallout games.

Reality is mirrored the rest of the century, however. The U.S. divides into 13 commonwealths, still under the oppression of the nuclear threats in Russia. In 2052, a shortage of petroleum leads to nations around the world fighting for energy, which is known in the game as the “Resource Wars.” After decades of fighting, the shortage of resources leads to the Great War of 2077, where a two-hour window of nuclear bombings leaves the U.S. in ruins.

Like BioShock, Fallout takes a premise based on reality and plays with it. With something as small as the transistor not being an invented – a device that many people never think about – there could be catastrophic differences in how modern times played out.


Xcom 2 alternate histories

Although the stories of each XCOM entry vary slightly, they’re all set a few years after the release date of the game. The original title, released in 1994, takes place in 1998. Following sightings of UFOs and stories of alien abduction, the nations of the world join in Geneva to devise a plan to combat the alien threat.

From this meeting, a secret research and defense group is formed, known as the “Extraterrestrial Combat Unit” or “X-COM” for short. The game begins with you at the helm of X-COM, training up new units, researching technology and, of course, sending forces to combat the alien threat with lead.



Legendary doesn’t have a definitive timeline, outside of taking place in “the early 21st century.” In it, Pandora’s Box isn’t a concept, but rather an actual artifact that archaeologists discovered at the bottom of the sea. Unaware of its power, the group sells the box to a New York City museum, hoping that it’ll be safe there.

Ormond LeFey, a millionaire aware of just how powerful Pandora’s Box is, hires a thief to break into the museum and steal the contents inside. Once opened, Charles Deckard, the thief you play as, unleashes a swarm of mythical creatures on Earth. As Deckard, you’re tasked with stopping the Black Order, a secret group interested in Pandora’s Box, from harnessing the power of these beasts to control the world.

Katana Kami Waira

KATANA KAMI, like the other games on this list, also takes place in an alternate history during Japan’s Meiji Restoration. You play as a ronin and must aid the swordsmith Dojima in repaying a debt and reclaiming his daughter, who was taken as collateral.

With late 19th century Japan as your backdrop, KATANA KAMI tasks you with crafting unique weapons, exploring dense dungeons for crafting materials, and controlling the town’s three factions, which are at each other’s throats.

Featuring isometric hack-and-slash combat in the vein of Diablo, the spin-off continuation of the Way of the Samurai series is finally here. You can watch the trailer below!