Mythology in video games (Image via Hades and God of War)

5 most authentic mythological depictions in video games

Over the years, video games across several platforms and generations have taken inspiration from mythological sources. Developers love incorporating such elements into their games because of pre-existing lore. Not only does borrowing from mythology help with world-building within video games, but it also helps market the product.

People are already familiar with the tales of beings like Zeus, Thor and the like. The developers can offer their unique spin on such well-known characters through the narrative of their video games. Mythology can thus serve as a valuable tool for any game developer to add a layer of nuance and recognisability to their game's story.

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However, developers can often get too creative with their adaptations. It is easy to deviate from the source material to form your narrative. Therefore, it is commendable when developers can stay faithful to the mythology they borrow from while delivering an entertaining gaming experience.


Video games frequently draw influence from mythology

1) God of War

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The ‘God of War’ series is probably the most popular franchise in video games with a mythological setting. The first six video games chronicle the vengeful journey of Kratos, a Spartan warrior, and Demigod as he traverses the lands to slay the gods of Olympus. With the latest entry in the series, we witnessed a deviation from Greek to Norse mythology.

Kratos encounters countless mythological gods, beings, and creatures throughout the journey. From gods like Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades to beasts like Medusa, the harpies, and the Minotaur, no one is safe from the wrath of Kratos. His journey even pitches him against the three sisters of fate: Clotho, Atropos, and Lahkesis.

The game does a beautiful job of keeping its world as accurate as possible to the source material, from the weapons and abilities to the lore involved. This enables the player to fully immerse in the game's universe, which is an extremely faithful depiction.

Platforms: The God of War franchise is a Sony exclusive and consists of games available on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Portable. The latest entry in the series is also available on the PlayStation 5, with a sequel soon to be released.

Paid/Unpaid: Paid

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2) Hades

Hades is an entry into the dungeon crawler genre of video games, with elements of Hack-n-Slash thrown into the mix. The game's refreshing style and visual appeal made the game stand out and receive widespread critical acclaim. However, the key aspect of the game is the narrative. The developers ensured they could deliver a unique and immersive storytelling experience.

As the name suggests, the game is based on Greek mythology. The protagonist is Zagreus, the son of Hades. The characters, lore and references in the game closely follow actual Greek mythology. The depiction of death and the Underworld, as well as the squabbling and tense relations between the gods, lends to the authenticity.

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Even the primary antagonist, Hades, is not portrayed as an evil criminal being. Like the myths, he has a stoic personality and is focused on carrying out his divine duties, no matter the cost. This gives the players an authentic experience worthy of the awards and praises the game received.

Platforms: Hades is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, Windows, and Mac OS.

Paid/Unpaid: Paid


3) Okami

Okami is an action-adventure game released in 2006 by Capcom. It is probably a unique entry in this list of video games due to its visual art style and the mythology it borrows from. The story is set in classical Japan and is based on Japanese folklore. The protagonist is Ametarasu, the sun goddess taking the form of a white wolf.

The game is special as it introduces Japanese folklore to the mainstream audience. The tale that primarily inspired the game's narrative is the story of Ametarasu and Susano, the god of storms. The tale of their conflict and the depiction of the beast named Orochi are all represented faithfully in the game’s interpretation.

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The game does justice to the Japanese pantheon with its vibrant and beautiful presentation. The watercolor-themed graphics seem to encapsulate the spirit of the ancient Japanese scrolls.

The experience truly feels like traversing the lands of an ancient Japanese folk tale. Due to its unique art style, Okami has aged beautifully and offers a delightful experience on modern consoles.

Platforms: Okami is available on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Wii, and Windows.

Paid/Unpaid: Paid


4) Dante's Inferno

‘Dante’s Inferno’ is an action-adventure game developed by Visceral Games and published by EA. Despite being loosely based on Dante Aligheiri’s Divine Comedy, the game’s depiction of Biblical elements is on point. It is a unique entity in video games as the Christian faith heavily influences it.

The game’s depiction of the Seven Circles of Hell and Limbo is where the accuracy in the portrayal is most prominent. Dante traverses the treacherous realm of the dead, battling the physical embodiments of various sins like Lust and Gluttony. The primary antagonist, Lucifer, is also portrayed accurately in terms of his nature, motives, and overwhelming power.

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The game itself received mixed to positive reviews. However, the depiction of hell was described as creative and graphic and considered one of the most notable aspects of the game. The primary themes of sin, retribution, and fate are borrowed directly from the Bible and lend to the depiction's authenticity.

Platforms: Dante's Inferno is available for purchase on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox 360

Paid/Unpaid: Paid


5) Immortals Fenyx Rising

Inspired by the game design of 'The Legend of Zelda' video games, Ubisoft released Immortals Fenyx Rising in 2020. This is yet another entry on this list of video games inspired by the pantheon of Greek mythology. It is no surprise, as the Greek gods and goddesses are the most well-known in popular culture.

The predominantly open-world approach of the game sets it apart from its peers. The accuracy of the characters and the narrative regarding the mythos received appreciation from the player base. Fenyx, the protagonist, must face and defeat a whole gallery of classic Greek monsters, beasts and fallen heroes to save the world and rescue their brother.

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The narration by Prometheus as he converses with Zeus also lends exposition about the lore and helps with world-building within the game. Fenyx’s interactions with divine beings such as Ares and Hermes, his battles against mythological creatures, and the weapons and items available all combine to provide an authentic mythological experience.

Platforms: Immortals Fenyx Rising is available on Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Amazon Luna.

Paid/Unpaid: Paid


Note: This article reflects the writer's opinions.

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Edited by
Srijan Sen
 
 
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