It’s time to get mythical, gamers. Some of the best stories ever told have come from mythology, so it’s no surprise that the stories have endured, often for thousands of years. It’s also no surprise that game developers have mined the world’s mythologies for inspiration to make games. Here are four games you can play right now that might teach you a thing or two you missed in high school.
1. Kid Icarus
Only in the ’80s could you get away with naming the setting of your game Angel Land, so that’s what the makers of Kid Icarus did. Despite the charming locale, this game is steeped in Greek mythology.
Medusa, the goddess of darkness, has been locked away in the underworld by Palutena, the goddess of light. Needless to say, Medusa’s not happy with this turn of events, so when she escapes, she turns everyone she sees into stone and imprisons Palutena. It’s up to the Cupid-like cherub, Pit, to defeat the monsters of the underworld, collect three sacred treasures (including the wings of Pegasus), and save Palutena.
The game is bare-bones and tough by today’s standards, but if you’re interested, check out the 3D Classic version on the Nintendo 3DS, as well as the 2012 3DS sequel, Kid Icarus: Uprising.
2. God of War
Far and away the most popular video game series based on mythology is God of War. It centers around Kratos, whose rage toward the gods knows no bounds, after Ares (the god of war) tricks him into killing his own wife and child.
Every line Kratos utters is yelled with hyperbolic anger. Every enemy unlucky enough to stumble onto the screen is shredded by Kratos’s Blades of Chaos, which are basically sword yo-yos he can whip through the air with deadly speed and strength.
With all the dead gods left in Kratos’s wake across the four games in the series, it’s obvious that God of War doesn’t hew too closely to the mythical stories it’s based on. But that doesn’t make it any less fun to fill the streets of Athens knee-deep with blood.
Multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBAs) have been burning up the PC charts (and the eSports world) for years now, with games like League of Legends, Dota 2, and Heroes of the Storm absorbing hundreds of hours of gamers’ time. Because of the complex control inputs and the cluster of spells and abilities on the screen, it seemed like MOBAs were destined to remain on PC only.
Then along came Smite, a free-to-play game that’s available on PC and Xbox One. It puts you in the shoes of a god from the mythology of your choosing: Greek, Mayan, Chinese, Egyptian, Hindu, Norse, or Roman. Once you’ve chosen your god, you team up with other players to fight against an equally powerful team of gods.
The game is more about bashing the other team to dust than informing players on their chosen mythology, but you’re bound to pick up bits and pieces as you play. If you’ve ever wanted to give a MOBA a shot, Smite is a fine place to start.
4. Too Human
Although this game was viewed as a disappointment when it launched in 2008, it maintains some cult appeal thanks to its unique setup. You play as the Norse god Baldur in a game that whips together mythology with science fiction in a wholly unique way.
The game is a cybernetically-infused retelling of Ragnarok, the Norse version of the apocalypse. You and your deity friends band together to stop the evil Loki and his army of machines from destroying the world. Although the game wasn’t very well received — to the point that two planned sequels were canceled — the premise is every bit as awesome as it ever was.
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