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  1. Happy new year to all ! All the best, and let's make it a good and fruitful year ! To kick off, I've decided to start a discussion based on the question in the title. Aside from the Thief trilogy (and TDM as its spiritual freeware cousin), what are some steampunk or steampunk-esque games that caught your interest ? Both in the past and more recently. Some that I've personally played and/or been impressed by over the years: Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura - this is a real classic for a number of reasons. If you can get over the somewhat lackluster combat, it has excellent, memorable writing and an oddly great sense of exploration. Of the games from the isometric, mouse-click control era of CRPGs, this is my favourite. I was fascinated by it already back when I saw the earliest reviews almost two decades ago, and after owning it for years and slowly playing through it, I still keep finding interesting things. The isometric era Fallout games were fine, but if I'm to choose whether they or this cousin of their's grabbed my heart more, the vote definitely goes to Arcanum. Even though it's an old game at this point, much of the voice acting, the atmospheric soundtrack, and the interesting quests (I even helped with resolving a feud between old friends, without fighting or bribes !) still bring my heart joy whenever I play it. Iron Grip series - a surprising favourite of mine. Unfortunately, by yet another already disbanded dev team. Though I think said devs tried doing too many things at once in their later years, including in the third game of this series, the first two games were ace. I also loved the setting they created for the series, one of its strongest suits, besides the gameplay ideas in the first two games. (Technically, the first is a total conversion rather than standalone, but it has the feel of an autonomous game.) The series' lore is still leaving a lasting impression on me, even many years since the original releases and the series going dormant. I don't think I've ever come across another game, before or since, that tried to focus on early 20th century war drama themes (in a context akin to the world wars, Russian civil war, warlord era China, etc.), while also being set in an entirely fictional world, rather than a thinly-veiled or alternate version of real history. There's also a strange whiff of Thief in two aspects of these games: They had a very timeless approach to cultural esthetics, and they had the definite backdrop of an epic, but weren't trying to tell an epic (focusing instead on very ordinary "heroes"). For some reason, that's the sort of approach I like seeing in fantasy steampunk media. (On a final sidenote, I had the pleasure to hear a live orchestral version of Christian Pacaud's mostly electronic OST for the first game. Even saved the video of the performance. As much as I liked the music in the two games, I was stumped at how an orchestral rendition improved things. Pity the devs never used that. It sounded amazing. Have a listen. That's the sort of slightly operatic bombat I expect from a serious war-themed steampunk/dieselpunk game.) Air Power: Battle in the Skies - Dynamix's Red Baron meets FASA's Crimson Skies, but somewhere literally midway between the creation of those two games. Created in the mid-1990s by Rowan Software, who previously worked on several historical flight sims, this was clearly a little passion project of their's and also a rather cheeky departure into a fictional industrial era world, though much like IG, a grounded and non-magical one. The plot is clearly inspired by early WWI dynastic shenanigans, but the airship and aircraft technology is far more 1920s and early-to-mid 1930s, to the devs' creative credit. While AP:BitS is a fairly charming game on the outside in terms of presentation and esthetic approach, and the flight sim gameplay wasn't bad, I feel it was a little too before its time. The tech available then just didn't do it justice, and British developers of the era being far smaller and not having much of a budget, it's no surprise this never really took off (pun intended). Still, along with the really cool PC adaptation of Crimson Skies, some five years later, this was one of those works that cemented my childhood love for the idea of being a sky pirate. Dishonored series - not that surprising, given how its DNA is also tied to Thief for inspiration, even though it's a lot more actiony in terms of gameplay. Though they went for a fairly obvious 18th/19th century aesthetic for this one (and in the first game, Corvo is basically a steampunk Edmond Dantes), I still liked most of their spins on the technology, culture and society in the installments. The whale-oil as a power source idea (even for guns !) might seem a bit silly at face value, but based on their inspiration in whale oil light sources of real history, it at least has some real tech grounding. I can appreciate that in any fantasy setting, even one as weird as this one. (I think the familiar-but-weird tone is what it shares with Thief very well).
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