Many of you are by now bathing in twinkling neon ravelights and swooning into the metal arms of Cyberpunk 2077's humourless unhunks, who stalk the streets of Night City like animatronic pizza restaurant mascots gone feral. That is fine. There are worse places to find oneself in the labyrinthine hell of video games. Places such as these. Here are 9 neighbourhoods you wouldn't want to bring up your children in.
Lower Undead Burg - Dark Souls
It's like Undead Burg but lower. This is a cramped streak of dwellings full of backstabbing thieves and bonfires heaped with crackling cadavers. If you thought having to empty your pockets to a twisted zombie merchant who trades in literal souls was a grubby affair up in Lah-dee-dah Burg, wait until you meet the head of Lowburg's neighbourhood watch, the Capra Demon. He can be found glaring furiously at the doorway of a walk-in closet where he routinely exercises his two beloved hounds, Lockjaw and Bites-him-some-shins. This cosy district is often overlooked for its grimier (even lowlier) cousin, Blighttown. But you must admit, there is something alluring about the crumbling tragedy of this bricky warren that brings a tear to the eye of every visitor. Although that might just be the corpse smog.
Riften - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Come to Riften, get a griftin'. Riften is the scum-filled fantasy city your grandpappy warned you about, and if you went there in real life you would do as he says and stuff all your tenners in your sock. Before you even set foot in this town of coldwater canals and scurrilous con artists, you are facing extortion at the gate. The city itself is home to the Thieves Guild. Not just another threat to your pocketbook, they are a group of happy-go-lucky stealers who fancy a bit of what everyone else has got. The Guild are daring and charismatic anti-heroes who show the player the true meaning of aspirational redistribution, leading a plucky life where one can turn disenfranchisement into jewels and honey, and misfortune into glittering gold. They live in a sewer.
Ravenholm - Half-Life 2
"We don't go there anymore," says resistance member and fingerless glove enthusiast Alyx Vance in the popular first-person seesaw puzzler Half-Life 2. She is talking about Ravenholm, a gloomy and abandoned housing estate populated by hundreds of malnourished zombies and one lonely single in your area. His name is Grigori and he lusts for the Lord. The streets of Ravenholm are distinguished by his idiosyncratic method of traffic control. That is to say, machines which disembowel you.
Industrial Zone - Streets Of Rogue
Here is an image of a corrupt police officer pumping sulphuric acid into the air filtration system of a gangster's safehouse. You would not believe how often this occurs in this neighbourhood.
Kamurocho - the Yakuza series
Good to visit, terrible place to establish a business. If the roving bands of scowling thugs and besuited Yakuza are not enough to put you off investing in Kamurocho's forever exploding property market, then perhaps the constant caterwauling of its needy citizens will be. There is no end to the random strangers waving you down. They are practically lining up to ask for favours. Please get back my stolen video game, mister. Please keep watch over my bag of matchsticks, mister. Please let me read your palm, mister. Actually, go on then. A little palm-reading never hurt anyone. That's a transparently noble occupation.
Wonderful Living Quarters - Cities: Skylines
South of the glamourous Consumption Zone and just a short drive from the interesting skyline of Smoggy Arch, lies your city's beautiful suburban estate for workers and families, Wonderful Living Quarters #1. It also boasts a beautiful view of The Filth, the city's wide and fragrant river that offers its nearby homes a great fishing opportunity for the very very patient.
Martinaise, Revachol West - Disco Elysium
Unique in this list as being the only rotten burgh to inspire real sympathy. Martinaise is run-down in the tragic, avoidable way that parts of our real cities become run-down. In the same way a whole city district can become steadily more derelict with every passing year of nationally sanctioned neglect. Boarded windows, trash-filled streets, corner shops fulfilling the dwindling cigarette and beer needs of an entire no-go zone. Martinaise is poverty and old war wounds. You can see the edges of its old beauty in the crumbling churches, find remnants of better times covered in the dust of abandoned buildings. And hiding among the racists and dirtbag mob bosses you'll find a lot of inherently decent people too. It's a pity they live in such a grim place, where a rotting body hanging outside your window inspires not horror or shock but apathy.
Everyone's so fucking smug here.
Warehouse district - Pathologic 2
"The Warehouses" is a bleak area of town in this survivalist plague simulator which I absolutely forbid you from playing until at least 2023. "Only rats live here," advises the game with some text that pops up when you limp onto the gravel between its corrugated steel shacks. This is a ramshackle conglomeration of tin huts home only to miscreants and children and miscreant children who scuttle onto the adjacent railway lines to tell improbable ghost stories that are definitely not real.
One Off The List from… the worst US presidents
Last month we lined up the 7 worst US presidents in PC games. They will now be administered a joint mega-impeachment. But one of them you have granted a presidential pardon. It's… George Sears aka Solidus Snake.
The disgraced former president of Metal Gear Solid 2 has found his public defender. "What he tried to 'destabilize'," argues "dryocampa" in a presidential plea bargain, "is a global system ruled by a hyperauthoritarian AI overmind that quietly took over the world and eliminated democracy decades ago. I wish we had a US President who was that committed to antifascism."
Sound argument. Solid factual basis. Concrete understanding of the insurmountable nonsense-verse of the Metal Gear Solid franchise. This is a commendable comment. Until next month, list goblins, stay safe.