The Mafia series is one of the most popular gangster game series to date. It’s a game series with a truly rich storyline, an addictive gameplay loop, and a deep level of immersion that’s hard to find in other games in the genre.
The first game, in particular, Mafia, was one of the best games of its era. The visuals were fantastic and the gameplay mechanics felt revolutionary. The sequel, Mafia II, was also great but Mafia III was a love-it-or-hate-it situation.
With a powerful story and incredible location that pays homage to iconic cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco in the 30s and 40s, what’s not to love? The Mafia games are full of blood, drama, and power struggles.
If you’re looking for games similar to Mafia, then this guide is for you. I’ve put together twelve of the best gang crime games like Mafia, starting with another one of the most popular titles in gaming history.
Grand Theft Auto
We might as well get the most obvious choice out of the way first, eh?
Grand Theft Auto feels like it has been with us since the inception of modern gaming.
The series contains several action-adventure, sandbox-style games that feature a similar premise to Mafia, with gang wars, daily crime, story missions, and everything in between.
The first Grand Theft Auto game came out in 1997, and the series covered a ton of ground in terms of advancing the series technically, up to the point where GTA V came out in 2013.
There are several GTA games that offer something similar to the Mafia series. However, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to recommend a game that is only available on an outdated platform, so let’s look at the more recent options.
GTA V is a worthwhile pick for fans of games like Mafia, and so are the remastered editions of older games. For example, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is worth checking out.
The collection contains remastered editions of some of the best games in the series such as GTA III (2001), GTA: Vice City (2002), and GTA: San Andreas (2004). Rockstar Games released it in 2021, and it’s one of the best ways to experience the GTA glory days.
Red Dead Redemption
If you’re bored of the old-timey but urban setting of Mafia, then the Red Dead Redemption series offers a nice change of pace. The RDR series focuses on gang crimes, set in the Wild West of the United States of America.
Coming from the team at Rockstar Games, the Red Dead series offers some open-world gems that Mafia fans will love. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the strongest title of the series, offering some of the best open-world PS5 experiences to date.
In RDR2, you play as a member of a gang of gunslingers that are constantly on the run from the law and also involved in gang wars with other groups.
Like Mafia, RDR2 is famous for its story and the depth of its main characters. By the end of it, it feels like you’ve been in control of someone that was a true friend in real life.
RDR2, in my opinion, is not just an alternative to Mafia, it offers a better experience overall.
Every little detail, from the physics of your weapons to the ragdoll death kill cams of NPCs is well-thought-out and realistic.
If you’d like to swap the stone brick roads and rickety vehicles of old-timey U.S.A with an even older, horseback-led alternative, then the Red Dead Redemption series is the way to go.
Sleeping Dogs was a decent open-world game when it came out in 2012. Still, the developers, United Front Games, really took things to another level with the remastered definitive edition that came out only two years later.
It feels like, in comparison to Mafia, both games moved toward extreme ends of a scale. While the original Mafia game and Mafia II were absolutely adored by gamers, the newer Mafia III and the remastered trilogy did not get as much love.
Like Mafia, Sleeping Dogs is set in an open world, albeit in Hong Kong instead of the U.S.A. Also, like Mafia, you’re heavily involved with a gang, this time the Sun On Yee Triad organization instead of the mafia families in Mafia.
That said, Mafia focuses on stories and world-building more, but that’s not to say that Sleeping Dogs is lacking a good story. In fact, there is more to do with Sleeping Dogs after completing the story than there is in the Mafia games.
Sleeping Dogs focuses on hand-to-hand combat much more than most games like Mafia. The good news is that combat is very well executed and you’ll probably enjoy it even more than guns once you get the hang of it.
Sleeping Dogs offers an experience that’ll feel familiar to Mafia fans, yet it still manages to be unique and stand out from the crowd. It’s worth playing.
If you think the mafia families in Mafia are something, have you heard about the Japanese mafia?
The Yakuza is a transnational organized crime syndicate originating from Japan, and the series of games that focus on the idea of these groups offers some of the best gang crime gameplay out there. Fans of Mafia games will get a kick out of the Yakuza games.
The Yakuza and The Mafia have one thing in common. Both tend to be glamorized in fictional settings, with media sugarcoating the ruthless, cutthroat way they operate in real life.
Whereas games such as GTA place more emphasis on committing crimes rather than the gangs or organized syndicates, Yakuza and Mafia unapologetically focus on the territoriality, alliances, betrayal, and bitter rivalries that come with real-life gang activity.
There are several games in the Yakuza series, starting from 2005’s Yakuza all the way to 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon with a few spin-offs in between.
Yakuza 4 came out in the same year as Mafia II, and the game was remastered for eight-gen in 2019 and 2021, so that’s a good place to start.
From there, you can work your way down to Yakuza Kiwami 1 & 2 (2016 & 2017), and then Yakuza: Like a Dragon. This will throw you into a few different combat styles and systems, but all the games are cool, chaotic, and full of creative characters.
The Yakuza games have more of a modern feel to them than the Mafia games, and they’re all worth checking out.
Watchdogs is an action-adventure, open-world video game that comes from the Ubisoft team. The first game came out in 2014, with Watchdogs 2 coming out in 2016 and Watchdogs: Legion coming out in 2020. They’re available on PC, Switch, Xbox, and Playstation.
The Watchdogs games generally focus on hacker protagonists with different motivations that usually lead to involvement with the criminal underworlds of their respective cities.
In the first Watchdogs games, you play as a gray hat hacker slash vigilante on a mission to avenge the killing of his niece.
Watchdogs 2 follows another hacker, Marcus Holloway, that is unjustly punished for a crime he did not commit. Marcus joins a hacking group known as DedSec and works with them to take down the city’s surveillance system, an action which opens a can of worms that the story then builds upon.
Watchdogs Legion, the third game, follows the hacker syndicate from the previous game, DedSec, as they try to clear their names after being framed for a series of terrorist bombings.
The core gameplay of these three games is quite similar, with the typical shooting, stealth, puzzles, and driving mechanics that are also present in most games like Mafia.
However, the twist here is that while you’re still part of a syndicate that is technically breaking the law, it still feels like you’re on the good side. If you want to commit crimes freely without feeling too much guilt as you might with Mafia, then this is the sort of game that you should be playing.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
You may be wondering what an Assassin’s Creed game has got to do with gang crime, but Syndicate actually blends the typical Assassin’s Creed gameplay with a new element of organized crime syndicates.
The good thing is, it does it pretty well.
Like other games in the series, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is an action-adventure experience. It is the ninth major installment in the series, serving as the sequel to 2014’s Assassin’s Creed Unity.
The story is set in 1868 London, and it follows the war between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. The Templar Order has taken control of the city, and the Assassins are on a mission to win that control back.
The main problem between both factions is in their approach to achieving peace. While the Templars are particular about leading with full control of their subjects, the Brotherhood of Assassins believes that the people should have liberty.
The twin Assassins on the mission, Jacob and Evie Frye, will find themselves in the deepest depths of underground organized crime syndicates as they attempt to win back territories from Templar-controlled gangs.
If you like games set in the 1800s, you’ll be happy to see weapons that are consistent with the time period. However, a good chunk of combat is also done with knives and knuckles in the old-fashioned, bone-crunching way that we know and love.
If you really love crime games, chances are you’ve at least heard about L.A Noire even if you’ve never played it. Now’s the time to change that, as it’s one of the best games like Mafia for fans of deep, dark storylines with plenty of mysteries and puzzles.
L.A Noire is a 2011 detective action-adventure game that comes from Team Bondi and Rockstar Games. If you’ve ever looked at lists of the most impressive detective games on Steam, you will have seen this game.
Rockstar Games really know how to make an impactful crime title.
In 2017, a fresh version of the game came out for Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. It may not look as shiny as some of the other games in this list, but it holds up.
L.A Noire is a linear game but it takes place in an open world set in the late 1940s. You play the role of a detective known as Agent Cole as he tries to work his way up the rankings of the LA police department.
To achieve this, you have to solve a series of criminal cases by exploring crime scenes, unearthing clues, grilling witnesses, and collecting evidence.
The mechanics involved in grilling witnesses is worth mentioning due to the use of motion capture technology that helps to betray the real emotions of a character, making your job easier if you’re good at reading facial cues.
As far as gang crime games go, L.A Noire is another option that lets you play on the good side. You’re still very much in the thick of criminal activity, but it’s more a case of being on the outside looking in since you’re not the one committing the crimes.
Payday is a first-person shooter series that comes from the teams at Overkill Software and Sony Online Entertainment.
Payday: The Heist is the first game in the series, coming out in 2011. You play as one of four robbers in single or multiplayer mode, teaming up for a series of heists.
You’re not allowed to kill civilians, although you can take some of them hostage to use in an exchange if necessary.
A sequel, Payday 2, came out in 2013 from the team at 505 Games. It was originally available for Windows, Xbox 360, and PS3, with versions for the PS4 and Xbox One coming out in 2015 and a Switch version coming out in 2018.
Payday 2 follows the same premise as the first game, taking the gang to Washington D.C for more heists.
You can do these missions alone or team up with three other gang members. Your gang can rob banks, shops, armored vehicles, and even produce and push drugs.
Payday 2 also features a deep character customization system and it overall looks better than the first game. If bank heists or similar sounds like the kind of gang crime fun you’re looking for, then Payday is a solid Mafia alternative.
If the gameplay in Mafia is a bit too serious for you, and you’re looking for some ridiculously over-the-top action instead, then you should have a look at Saints Row games.
Saints Row games are similar to GTA in the sense that they are set in an open world with sandbox-style gameplay that lets you do pretty much whatever you want.
The games focuses on the 3rd Street Saints, a fictional street gang out of the Saints Row district.
The first Saints Row game came out in 2006, which is a few years after Mafia. It’s a fun game but can feel a little dated, so it’s worth checking out the Saints Row reboot that Deep Silver put together in 2022.
Deep Silver’s version features a return to the roots of the Saints Row series in terms of gang warfare but still retains enough of the over-the-top action and loudmouth dialogue that Saints Row games are famous for.
The game is set in a city with three gangs vying for power and territory. You’ll need to form your own gang and upset the hierarchy in order to become the new city-runners.
Blood and Truth
If you’re looking for something even more immersive than the games we’ve looked at already, Blood and Truth might be the game for you. It’s a first-person shooter that London Studio and Sony Interactive Entertainment put out in 2019.
The reason why it’s more immersive than most Mafia alternatives is that the game is played with the PlayStation virtual reality headset. When you get into a gunfight, it feels like you’re really there.
This is not just any shooter. You play the role of an ex-Special Forces soldier named Ryan Marks as he tries to save his family from a London crime boss. It’s one thing to have gang wars, but to try to take those gangs on solo? Yeah, you know what to expect.
The gameplay here is very different to Mafia. Since we’re focusing on the gang crime aspects, it does not get much better than London mobsters shooting at you in what looks like a cinematic movie with you as the heroic main actor.
Guns, Gore and Cannoli
Guns, Gore & Cannoli (GGC) is another over-the-top, wacky and intense action game series that comes from the team at Rogueside.
If you’re thinking the sounds familiar to Saints Row, you’re not wrong. However, the approach to the over-the-top action is quite unique.
Where Saints Row is a fully-fledged 3D open world with high levels of detail, GGC is a 2D side-scrolling platformer/shooter that is fairly limited in terms of the size of the environment and what you can do in it.
The first game came out 2015, while the second came out in 2018. If you can, it is worth playing the first game before the second. It’s not necessary, but I’d recommend it.
The story in the first game follows a 1920s gangster named Vinnie Cannoli, hired to rescue someone from a rival gang in Thugtown (yeah, I know).
For some reason, everyone in the city you’re sent to in the earlier levels are zombies, including the cops that are after you.
The story continues in the second game, presenting Vinnie as the sole survivor of his town following the zombie outbreak that happened in the first game. Twenty years have passed, and he is once again caught in the middle of rival gangsters.
The gameplay mechanics of GGC are fairly intuitive. You will learn to switch weapons on the fly as you scale over obstacles and shoot down anything that breathes too loud. There are plenty of weapons, and there are plenty of wise guy jokes.
The cartoonish art style does not do much to scale down the violence either. But, if you’re here, then that’s exactly what you want.
The is the Police
This is the Police is an adventure-strategy game that is the result of Weappy Studio, Nordic Games, and EuroVideo Medien working together in 2016.
The game focuses on your character, who is a police chief set to retire in 180 days.
Before the time that you have left runs out, you set a target to make $500,000 whichever way you want, and one of those options just happens to be by turning a blind eye to the activities of the local mafia.
The mafia promises to reward you handsomely for doing so, or threaten to kill you if you don’t comply.
As the game progresses, the police department will have to go to several locations to handle situations of varying levels of severity. The more serious the situation is, the more cops you’re typically going to send.
This is where the strategy element comes in as you have to decide how many and which types of cops to send to each location. There are politics involved too, and the political stands of each cop affects the team cohesion for each unit that you send out.
This is the Police 2, which came out in 2018, follows a similar pattern to the first game. You have to run the police department, investigate crimes, arrest criminals and manage your subordinates.
As usual, your decisions will determine how in-line with the law their actions are.
To that end, perhaps the most difficult part of the whole thing is trying to stay out of prison yourself, as this will depend entirely on a series of difficult choices that affect your attempts to retire with a healthy bank balance.