Retrofuturism: creative arts showing influences of depictions of the future, as produced in an earlier era.

Anticipation/rememberance: If futurism is ‘science’ bent on the anticipation, retrofuturism is the remembering of that anticipation.


The Nautilus, Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870).

back to the future

The ‘Jules Verne’ train, Back to the future III (1990).


Impressie van een Steampunk airplane.

Nostalgia: sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy, personal associations and/or memories.

Member Berries, Southpark (2016)

Retro/vintage: style consciously imitating trends, music, fashion and the like of the past.


The ION Max LP – Wood, Vynal player with USB connection.

Themes in retrofuturism.

  1. Dissatisfaction with modern expectations of the future.
  2. Dissatisfaction with modern society.
  3. Re-evaluation of technology
  4. Pessimistic world views.

Games. All retrofuturistic games discussed here make a clear connection between their retrofuturistic aesthetics and their dystopian game world.

Bioshock (2007) ~ 1960

Allohistorical. Stories in which one or more historical events, in our relative past, occur differently than as we know they happened.

Introducing ‘Rapture’


Injecting the first plasmid full of ADAM.


A Little Sister and her guardian, a Big Daddy.

Choice: harvest or rescue the Little Sister?

Bioshock Infinite (2013) ~ 1912

Columbia, the floating city


The Songbird is to protect Elisabeth, the Lamb of Comstock.

Racism in Columbia.


The church of Comstock and its image of Columbia as a ‘shining city on the hill’, cf. Matthew 5:14, “Jesus tells his listeners, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Wolfenstein. New Order / Old Blood (2015) ~ 1960

1946: The Nazi’s won the Second World War.


Pantzerhund, ‘armoured dog’.


Übersoldate, ‘super soldiers’ (right), General Totenkopf, ‘general Deathshead’ (left).


The Nazi moon base (inside).


The Nazi moon base (outside).

Fallout 3 / 4 (2008 / 2015) ~ 2277

Trailer of Fallout 3.


The pipboy, your personal wrist computer.


Computers as depicted in Fallout series.


Member of the Brotherhood of Steel.


A ‘Vertibird’.

Dishonored 1 / 2 / Death of the Outsider (2012 / 2016 / 2017) ~ “19th century”

Trailer Dishonored.


The fictional city of Dunwall.


An ‘arc pylon’.


Whale oil is the main fuel for the electricity in Dunwall and the whole Empire of the Isles.


The Abbey of the Everyman and its Overseers.


The so called ‘Seven Structures’:

1. Wandering Gaze

“Restrict the Wandering Gaze that looks hither and yonder for some flashing thing that easily catches a man’s fancy in one moment, but brings calamity in the next. For the eyes are never tired of seeing, nor are they quick to spot illusion. A man whose gaze is corrupted is like a warped mirror that has traded beauty for ugliness and ugliness for beauty. Instead, fix your eyes to what is edifying and to what is pure, and then you will be able to recognize the profane monuments of the Outsider.”
—Overseer Chant.

2. Lying Tongue

“Restrict the lying tongue that is like a spark in a man’s mouth. It is such a little thing, yet from one spark an entire city may burn to the ground. The father of a lie will suffer a punishment compounded by each person relayed it. Better to live a life of silence than unleash a stream of untruth. The echoes of lies come back as the voice of the Outsider.”
—Overseer Chant.

3. Restless Hands

“Restrict the Restless Hands, which quickly become the workmates of the Outsider. Unfettered by honest labor, they rush to sordid gain, vain pursuits, and deeds of violence. Of what value are the hands that steal and kill and destroy? Instead, put your hands to the plow, the fork, and the spade. For even the lowliest labor that is rigorous squeezes the muscles as a sponge, rinsing impurities from the mind and body.”
—Overseer Chant.

4. Roving Feet

“Restrict roving feet that love to trespass. They pay no heed to the boundary stones of other men’s fields. They wander into foreign lands, only to return with their soles blackened by iniquity. Where have you strayed that destruction now comes behind you? Would you walk across burning coals or broken glass? Then why do you prowl into the homes of the honest, or into the dens of hidden things, for the result is the same. You will fall into the Void! Instead, rest your feet on a firm foundation so that when the winds of the Outsider shriek against you, you will stand firm and not be overthrown.”
—Overseer Chant.

5. Rampant Hunger

“Restrict the Rampant Hunger or the intemperate will rise up among you like a virulent swarm, devouring everything wherever they go, even filth. For what goes into your body, poisons you, and if you eat filth then filth is what you will vomit up. Surely the glutton will sell away birthright, family, and friends for a morsel of meat.”
—Overseer Chant.

6. Wanton Flesh

“Restrict the Wanton Flesh. Truly, there is no quicker means by which a life can be upheaved and sifted than by the depredations of uncontrolled desire. What avail is the concourse of a prostitute? The attention of a loose companion? Nothing. And what of the fruit of such unions? Only sorrow is born, only misery is multiplied; within these things, the Outsider dwells.”
—Overseer Chant.

7. Errant Mind

“Restrict an errant mind before it becomes fractious and divided. Can two enemies occupy the same body? No, for the first will direct it one way, and the second another, until they stumble into a ditch and its neck is broken. Likewise, two contrary thoughts cannot long abide in a man’s mind, or he will become weak-willed and subject to any heresy.”
—Overseer Chant.