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10 best video games set in & inspired by Hong Kong

By Inés Fung 24 March 2020

With our unique East-meets-West history, dynamic architecture, and rich melting pot of cultures, it should come as no surprise to all that Hong Kong has provided inspiration for many a film, television show, and book. That said, did you know that Hong Kong actually pops up in many video games as well?

As both a visual and interactive medium, video games are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the streets and stories of Hong Kong, though most of them like to draw on the intriguing underbelly of Kowloon or the imagined cyberpunk future of our vibrant city as a whole. Here are our top picks for video games set in Hong Kong, from studios both international and local, that you should check out for yourself!

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Stranglehold (2007)

Stranglehold was made in collaboration with legendary Hong Kong filmmaker John Woo as a sequel to his 1992 action film Hard Boiled, starring none other than Chow Yun Fat, who reprises his role as iconic Inspector “Tequila” Yuen in the game as well. It’s a single-player, third-person shooter game where you play as Inspector Yuen as he tries to solve a murder and rescue his wife and daughter from a Russian mob, while evading two warring triad families and the aforementioned Russian mob.

It’s an action-packed game that you can finish in a day, with slick visuals, a nostalgic soundtrack and its accurate translation of John Woo’s signature stylish gun battle scenes. Seriously, you rack up points based on how stylish your kill moves are, so if you’ve always wanted to slide across a tabletop or car while shooting, playing Stranglehold is your chance.

Cage (2018)

Cage is a locally-made indie game set in the infamous Kowloon Walled City during the 1980s. You play as Min, a child who’s staying with his grandfather in the Walled City during the summer holidays. As Min, you have to gather items and solve puzzles as you navigate the unfamiliar and chaotic environment, and the game offers a more wholesome and authentic look at the lives of people in the Walled City at the time, as well as the actual location which is often shrouded in urban legend.

Family values, local beliefs, and the Cantonese language and culture are also on showcase in Cage, and we love how simple the controls are. The beta version is currently available online, and the creators Poki and Zac from Scaffold Studio are hoping to raise more funds in order to complete a full, immersive version.

Deus Ex (2000)

Deus Ex is truly a PC classic, even if the visuals don’t hold up after two decades. A sprawling cyberpunk and dystopian role-playing game inspired by the shadowy conspiracies of The X-Files, Deus Ex takes place in three cities set in the not-so-distant future of the 2050s: New York, Paris, and our very own Hong Kong.

You play as JC Denton, a government agent enhanced with augmentations that grant him superhuman powers, and every city has its own mystery to uncover through creative and complex puzzles levels inside an open-ended world with heaps of easter eggs and interesting NPCs.

In the Hong Kong levels of the game, you team up with Tracer Tong (and the triads, of course) to investigate the local Illuminati presence. There are futuristic reimaginations of Wan Chai abound, set to an excellent melodic ambient soundtrack, and it’s easy to lose yourself in Deus Ex’s version of Hong Kong, if not for the outdated graphics.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Mini Metro (2016)

Mini Metro is an award-winning minimalist strategy game where you get to design an efficient subway system for a growing city, and one of these growing cities is Hong Kong! It’s available on a variety of gaming platforms, but the best way to play, in our opinion, is on your phone. You start with just a few stations, which connect with a colourful track that you can drag and redraw easily as new stations pop up randomly over time.

Each game is unique, even if you replay the levels time after time, and you can use your in-game resources in a variety of different ways to tailor your network. Mini Metro can be as zen or as hectic as you’d like, and knowledge of our current MTR network definitely helps when you get around to the Hong Kong stage of the game!

Fear Effect (2000)

Another nostalgic classic is Fear Effect, a survival horror action game set entirely in Hong Kong. You play as one of three mercenaries: Hana, Deke, or Glas, who arrive in the city intending to find (and kidnap) the daughter of a prominent underworld boss who has disappeared. What they don’t know is that the lives of the daughter, Wee Ming, and her father hang in the thread with the demonic underworld presided over by the mythical Yim Lau Wong.

It’s a wild cinematic adventure through our neon-soaked metropolis (eagle-eyed players may spot the Hotel Rendezvous neon sign that still hangs above Chatham Road in Tsim Sha Tsui today), utilising traditional survival horror game controls. Be sure to keep an eye out on your “Fear Effect” life bar (affected by encounters with demons) while you play as well.

The Hong Kong Massacre (2019)

The creators of The Hong Kong Massacre were inspired by indie cult-classic top-down shooter Hotline Miami, as well as a desire to pay homage to John Woo’s balletic bloody films of the 1980s and 1990s. The story is one we’ve all heard before: A hard-boiled cop is out for revenge against the triads. The gameplay and aesthetics are what truly makes The Hong Kong Massacre a refreshing and accurate video game portrayal of the 852.

While every shot is deadly for both you and your enemies, you can trigger a slow-motion timer to plan out your moves or use a dodge and dive tool that allows you to leap through windows or duck behind familiar red taxis. The stages of The Hong Kong Massacre are sharp and gorgeous even when soaked in blood, taking you from familiar rooftops to teahouses as you avenge your fictional partner in 35 levels. It goes without saying that if you’re scared of blood, this game is probably not for you.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Paranormal Hong Kong (2020)

Paranormal Hong Kong is an indie horror game with a rare authentic flavour as it’s made by a fully local team of game developers. It follows the story of a television crew filming their ghost-hunting show Beyond the Invisible inside an eerie version of the Kowloon Walled City—during the Hungry Ghost Festival, of all times. The crew members start disappearing and the host and lead actress Kathy starts going mental, and it’s all up to you, playing as Ah Lok, to run, hide, and solve puzzles in order to get out alive.

It’s a relatively short game, clocking in about six hours of gameplay, but there are jumpscares aplenty and the focus on local horror stories is a creative take on the horror game genre. The English translations can be a bit broken at times, but they’re easily understandable and don’t take you out of the game. Support your local game devs!

Shadowrun: Hong Kong (2015)

Set in 2056 within the cyberpunk “Hong Kong Free Enterprise Zone” is Shadowrun: Hong Kong, a turn-based tactical role-playing game in the popular Shadowrun tabletop and video game series. For those unfamiliar with turn-based games, combat is, well, turn-based, with the player controlling the actions of their team followed by the enemies taking their actions.

You play as an unnamed character, released from prison after an eight-year sentence, and receive a message from your adoptive father to meet them and your adopted brother in Hong Kong. The story is highly engaging, full of deceit, evil, and magic; character building is immense, the dark futuristic world of the Free Enterprise Zone atmospheric, and gameplay can unfold in so many different ways depending on how you play. Even after you complete the main story, you will not have run out of adventures in the game, though there is a plethora of additional content to dig into once you’ve played your way through. Shadowrun: Hong Kong is raved about amongst RPG fans and you’ll understand the hype when you sink your teeth into it.

Oblige (2017)

Stepping away from cyberpunk and intrigue, we have Oblige, an indie story-based side-scroller and typing game where you play as a working-class mother in 1979 Hong Kong. As a working-class mother, you work hard daily to take care of everyday chores while balancing work as well as your demanding spouse and children.

Inspired by the stories of mothers and grandmothers living and working as housewives that were told to the art and narrative designer Ivan Tsang—who has roots in Hong Kong—the game was created and built by a team of students in their Intermediate Game Development class at the University of Southern California in 2016. It’s a simple game with a beautiful soundtrack performed by students at the Berklee College of Music, and for a student project, Oblige lives up to its expectations and more.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Sleeping Dogs (2012)

Finally, we have Sleeping Dogs, the granddaddy of video games set in Hong Kong. It’s been positively lauded and recommended by all those who’ve played it, and it’s easy to see why.

Sleeping Dogs is by far the most well-researched and authentic open-world game to take place in Hong Kong. The team spent a week exploring the city, and—taking some creative liberties—have made faithful and beautiful recreations of every nook and cranny including Aberdeen Harbour, Soho, the back alleys of North Point, and even Temple Street Night Market.

You have the opportunity as the main character Wei Shen to discover it all as you live your life as an undercover cop within the (take a wild guess) triads. Yes, Sleeping Dogs was heavily inspired by the Hong Kong film classic Infernal Affairs, but the story doesn’t feel exhausted at all, supported by voice acting from prominent Asian actors like James Hong, Lucy Liu, and Altered Carbon’s Will Yun Lee and cool missions that’ll take you from cockfights to high-speed chases. Seriously, we can’t recommend this enough, so we’ll end it here and let you discover this game for all its glory.

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Inés Fung

Part-time editor

Currently based in Hong Kong by way of Calgary, Inés has always had a passion for writing and her creative work can be found in obscure literary zines. When she’s not busy scouring the city for the best gin-based cocktail, she can be found curled up with her journal and fur-ever friend Peanut. Don’t be surprised if you cross paths with her and she already knows all your mates.