Neon Genesis Evangelion returns to Netflix this weekend, and the internet couldn't be more excited. Despite coming out close to 25 years now, its impact continues to reverberate through both anime and gaming communities, its rise being closely tied to the explosive popularity of games like Final Fantasy 7. Being relatively hard to find in the west, many are eager to finally return to Hideaki Anno's seminal anime series with fresh eyes.
As you might expect given Evangelion's status in Japan, more than a few games follow in its footsteps. Evangelion's influence has been felt in everything from Final Fantasy to Metal Gear Solid, and any time a game gets into heavy psychological drama, it's natural to view it through the lens of Evangelion. But beyond that, Evangelion is a kickass robot anime, and games naturally want to emulate its distinct style.
So if you haven't had your fill of clones, conspiracy theories, and giant robots, here are six games to play after watching Evangelionon Netflix this weekend.
Final Fantasy 7
Available on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC... basically everything
Final Fantasy 7 is a natural choice for this list. Now available on a multitude of platforms including Nintendo Switch, it's currently enjoying a renaissance similar to that of Evangelion. Having been maligned and venerated throughout their respect runs, both have settled into flawed classic status. In that light it only makes sense that Final Fantasy 7's resurgence is paralleling that of Evangelion.
I haven't seen Final Fantasy 7's development team explicitly speak to the influence Evangelion on its story, but the two sure feel plenty similar. The various Weapons greatly resemble the Angels from Evangelion, and Cloud's big psychological break is a lot like the ones experienced by Shinji and Asuka. It even has a little nod to Evangelion's D-Type equipment in the Golden Saucer.
Basically, if Neon Genesis Evangelion resonates with you, then you simply have to play Final Fantasy 7. The two are practically joined at the hip.
Available on: PlayStation, PlayStation 3, PSP, Vita
This is honestly one of the games most closely tied to the concepts of Evangelion. A boy and his robot are forced into conflict, laden with heavy doses of religious symbolism and several mind trip moments. Xenogears is obviously the more fantastical of the two, but both works play up their Japanese creators' love of Gnostic Christian theology and odd feelings on relationships.
It probably doesn't help that Xenogears has superficial similarities to Evangelion. Both Evangelion's Shinji and Xenogears' Fei have a tendency to lose control of their robots (and become more powerful) if they feel intense anger or fear. Both are joined by a redheaded second pilot and sometime love interest, with Evangelion having the more abrasive Asuka and Xenogears sporting the more traditional interest in Elhaym Van Houten. The ultimate plan of one of Xenogears' antagonists, Krelian, slots in right next to SEELE' Human Instrumentality Project. And oddly enough, both had rushed, premature endings.
Xenogears isn't Evangelion, but the flavor is there. These odd combinations of giant robots, religious imagery, and psychology feels similar, and much has been made of the fact that Evangelion was airing when Xenogears began development. But the connections are lighter than the wholesale lifting some charge Xenogears with, leaning on more on thematic resonance than a copied story and characters.
Super Robot Wars V
Available on: PlayStation 4, Vita
Games based on Evangelion are sadly few and far between. There's a mediocre N64 game, some pachinko games, and at least one visual novel for the Sega Saturn. That leaves Super Robot Wars as one of only a handful of real representations of Evangelion in the gaming space, with the anime boasting close to a dozen appearances in the long-running franchise.
Super Robot Wars V is mostly based on the Rebuild of Evangelion films, which are remakes that take the story in some wildly different directions, so it's not a perfect place to start. But if you're willing, it has some very interesting takes on the various EVA units, and it includes a grand moment in which Shinji's Positron Rifle is hooked up to the Yamato's Wave Motion Gun for power. It also happens to be one of the few SRW games available in English.
If classic Evangelion is more your speed, then the Super Robot Wars Alpha series is one of the best representations of the series, with such gems as Gundam's Captain Bright turning Shinji into a universe-destroying badass. Of those games though, only the original Alpha and Alpha Gaiden are available in English, and they lack the quality of life improvements of later versions. But whatever version you play, Super Robot Wars does a great job of remixing the classic Evangelion stories in some unique ways.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Available on: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Vita
Hideo Kojima is an avowed mecha fan, so it should be no surprise that his oeuvre shares many themes in common with Evangelion. The most obvious example of this is Zone of the Enders, which is a mecha action series with multiple shoutouts to Evangelion. But if you're looking for a game that feels like Evangelion, you need only look toward Metal Gear Solid 2, which is every bit as weird and controversial as Hideaki Anno's work.
Like Evangelion, it contains strong paranoid conspiracy elements, with the Patriots greatly resembling organizations like SEELE. It also has its share of over-the-top personal revelations, Otacon admitting to having been seduced by his stepmother being a classic example. If you're the kind of person who's willing to buy into the idea that Evangelion's ideas are big, bold, and deserving of major examination, then Metal Gear Solid 2 will be right in your wheelhouse. And if you're not interested in playing an 18-year-old game, then Death Stranding looks like it will have plenty of common with Evangelion as well.
Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Neon Genesis Evangelion is, on its surface, about teens fighting aliens in giant robots. And Nier: Automata is, on its surface, about androids fighting robots. Yet both setups lie over a current of existential and nihilistic dread, each realizing their greater conflict is much darker and all-consuming than expected.
Nier carries the themes of Evangelion well, but it thankfully also nails the same ending. Well, one of them does, because with both Evangelion and Nier you have to talk about the multiple endings they each have. But through tragedy and pain, both works come to a conclusion that hope can persevere, and no future's set in stone. So if you're eager to hit the emotional lows and still come out optimistic, Nier can do all that. Also, it has some giant robots, and it pushed Elon Musk off Twitter. What's not to love?
Heaven Will be Mine
Available on: PC, iOS
Yes, these are both mecha. But Heaven Will Be Mine, like Evangelion, uses the mecha format to dive into deeper territory. Here, it's love and queerness in space. Heaven Will Be Mine is about juxtapositioning big robot fights with flirtation, and exploring sexuality through the framework of a robotic deathmatch.
Both use their framing devices to terrific effect, and Heaven Will Be Mine is a shorter, more relaxed game to play than others on this list. It's mostly text driven and focused on the writing, which is superb. And apparently Netflix absolutely butchered the Shinji x Kaworu stuff in their release, so if you're looking to fill that void, Heaven Will Be Mine can provide that and then some.
Dance Dance Revolution
Available on: Arcade mostly, but you can find it on Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, and other consoles as well
Who wouldn't want to play Dance Dance Revolution after watching "Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win," the classic episode where Shinji and Asuka use rhythm games to sync up and defeat an Angel? I'm feeling the urge to break out the metal pads as we speak.
Got more games you feel people should play after watching Neon Genesis Evangelion? We'd love to see them in the comments!