Video games have often relied on a variety of mythic themes to establish their identities. This is most represented in a multitude of action and RPG titles, but many games have featured an entire cast of gods, monsters, heroes, and others, regardless of genre.
While the gaming world has recently seen an influx of Vikings and Norse gods, the classic figures of ancient Greece still wear their crowns. Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, and all the rest of the Olympians have made more than their fair share of appearances in the video game world, and players have stepped into the armor of classic heroes to embark on their own odysseys time and time again.
This classic launch title from the days of the Sega Genesis allowed gamers to “rise from their graves” as a muscle-bound hero called forth by Zeus to rescue his daughter from Neff and his minions from the underworld. While zombies and werewolves might not be commonplace in most Greek myths, the hydra, Cerberus, and other famous monsters certainly are.
Before gamers had Kratos, they had this muscular titan on a mission from the gods. It’s not the most complicated nor is it the most dynamic game in the genre, but classic and retro gaming fans will enjoy this brief beat-em-up foray.
Rise Of The Argonauts
If the title alone wasn’t enough of a clue, Rise of the Argonauts follows the plotline of the classic myth of the Golden Fleece. It’s an action RPG that allows for different experimentation in weaponry and combat that truly feels like something mythic. A simple hack-and-slash adventure it might be, but its one that understood the assignment.
The combat is satisfying, but the look of the game feels like something that would come out of a Ray Harryhausen film. It’s truly something that shows a love for the source material.
Age Of Mythology
A spinoff of the Age of Empires series, this real-time-strategy game takes the kingdom-conquering concept of the previously mentioned title and adds a mythic element that makes wrecking other civilizations way more fun. Not only will players be building up their kingdoms, but they will need to appease their gods of choice as well.
Along with an army of hoplite soldiers, Greek players will be able to build temples and command legions of minotaurs, centaurs, and other classic monsters to lay waste to oncoming hordes. The Greek pantheon is also joined by the Egyptian and Norse ones as well, but the love for classic characters and creatures is felt across the board.
Think of Titan Quest as a larger, mythology-inspired Diablo clone. The main quest of the game is restoring man’s connection with the gods of old, but there are more than a few obstacles in the player’s way. Along with encountering famous characters and creatures from Greek mythology, they will be swept across various civilizations spanning from ancient Greece all the way to the Silk Road in China.
While the game is certainly dated compared to others in its genre, there’s simply so much to do and so much looting and raiding to build up their character. With over 1000 different items and weapons, along with a very deep and complex magic system, there’s certainly a lot packed into this epic adventure.
While mostly recognized for his appearance in Nintendo’s Smash Bros. games, Pit originally hailed from the Kid Icarus titles where the winged hero took on a platforming quest for his goddess, Palutena. While Angel Land might not exactly be Olympus, the Greco-Roman influence is clear and present.
Kid Icarus might have been his debut title, but Uprising on the 3DS was where the series truly embraced its mythic influence. Taking on the forces of Hades and Medusa in a rail-shooter setting might seem strange, but it certainly made for a fan-favorite game amongst 3DS owners.
In retrospect, there needs to be more Greek myth Metroidvanias. With all the labyrinths, monsters, and heroes scattered through the various stories, its a wonder there aren’t more games like Apotheon. Taking motifs from God of War and mixing it with the gameplay of Castlevania, the game creates a truly epic experience.
Playing Apotheon is like exploring an ancient work of art, encountering the greek gods as they might have appeared in the eyes of their worshipers. Its style is one of its biggest highlights, but the sense of exploration and god-level boss fights is what makes it worthy of any would-be hero.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Since the iconic Assassin’s Creed series took its games in a more hack-and-slash direction, it was honestly a matter of time before they went full Greek. By mixing a little historic realism with a sprinkling of mythological flavor, however, the series brought fans a taste of something truly unique.
Sometimes it feels like playing through something like 300, especially with that Spartan Kick, but other times it feels like living through a homeric text. It’s a mythological masterpiece that will appeal to gamers old and new with barely a quibble.
As strange and surprising as it sounds, escaping the jaws of the underworld truly is an exceptionally enjoyable experience. In this roguelike dungeon-crawler, players take up the role of Zagreus, son of Hades, who must comb his way through the land of the dead as he tries to join his family up on Mount Olympus.
If there’s a Greek monster, it’s in this game. Players will encounter famous gods like Zeus, Ares, and Aphrodite, but they’ll also have to battle furies, shades, the hydra, and Hades himself. In a brilliant mix of Dante’s Inferno and God of War, mythology fans will have more than enough to satisfy their needs.
God of War Series
Of course, there’s no talking about mythological-inspired games without mentioning the iconic God of War franchise. From harnessing the power of the gods to take down a power-crazed Ares to taking each one of the Olympians down in a powerful rage, it’s no wonder that it practically became the face of the hack-and-slash genre.
Thanks to the original trilogy, the action genre was practically reinvented and redefined. Simply put, there are few gaming experiences more utterly satisfying than ripping and tearing through monsters like minotaurs and gorgon’s as a rage-blind Kratos.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising
Considered by some to be the ideal hybrid of Breath of the Wild, God of War, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Immortals: Fenyx Rising is a brilliant adventure that throws players into an epic world of gods and monsters as they restore the likes of Aphrodite, Ares, and Athena to their thrones befor Typhon can destroy the realms.
In spite of its comedic tones, the game does take a lot from classic tales like The Illiad and The Odyssey with Fenyx practically a stand-in for Odysseus. Plus, the narration and commentary from Zeus and Prometheus adds a certain storytelling flavor not felt in others in the theme.
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