Vikings Movies Are All the Rage – What About Viking Video Games?
With movie series like Thor and TV series like Vikings and even Game of Thrones, the Vikings, early medieval sword and board styles has certainly got studded leather clad legs at the moment. Viewers have been increasingly turning to Norse mythology and low-fantasy medievalism. The popular theme has even hit the gaming world, with sites like Vikingslots.
And it’s easy to see why. The intricate politics of series like Game of Thrones somehow mirrors today’s climate, but manifests it in gratuitous violent and action motifs. Vikings follows a time-old myth – the story of Ragnar Lothbrok – and tells it with excellent character and persuasive acting. You’re likely to find a few more great examples on our list of upcoming Netflix additions.
So how is this trend translating into the gaming world?
Well, more so than on the silver screen, Vikings and other fantasy and medieval settings have been a mainstay of the video game world. Series like The Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age have cemented themselves as gaming titans amongst many other similar titles. Clearly, the appetite is there, even if they aren’t specifically Viking.
And Norse mythology has long been a favourite touchstone for various games. Thor in particular is a very popular character.
So, let’s take a look at some of the best Viking-themed games around.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
Image source: elderscrolls.bethesda.net
Yes, it can’t be missed. While not explicitly Viking, it’s undeniable that Skyrim draws heavily on Norse and Nordic themes and aesthetics, and to massive success. It has sold well over 20 million copies and won more gaming awards than you could count. It has even spawned a bona fide fan film.
The Viking age was one obsessed with seeking fame, and planting your legacy on the face of the planet. That’s something that Skyrim captures perfectly, and is just part of why it feels so good to explore the northern region of Tamriel.
The sense of cold isolation at times, to the warm community of the cities. The serenity of the land clashing against the violence of the world at large. In these ways, Skyrim is a thoroughly Viking game – it immerses you in a world of powerful natural beauty and warring factions, of lone wolf heroism and tight knit communities.
PROJECT WIGHT (2017)
Set to land later this year, PROJECT WIGHT looks to do what is inevitable in any trend – smoosh two of them together. The survival horror genre is cleaning up right now, with titles like DayZ, Ark: Survival Evolved, H1Z1 and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS finding a take on the zombie movie trend that gamers find all too addicting.
But that’s not to say PROJECT WIGHT is uninspired or lame. Indeed, it’s the perfect environment for any survival game to thrive. It’s a naturally harsh landscape and violent world that lends itself to individual heroism but also to unforgiving death. What’s more is that this game puts you in the shoes (or, they say, claws) of a Norse monster based on Grendel from the Beowulf tale being hunted by the Viking locals. Whatever your thoughts on the genre, that sounds like an exciting twist.
The Banner Saga (2014)
Image source: Wikipedia.org
Released in 2014 to great critical success, The Banner Saga offers a beautifully animated and emotionally written role playing story that sees you travel with your Viking caravan across the land, making crucial decisions and battling foes along the way.
It’s a game that combines both strategic depth and enjoyability with first rate writing – a story that really grabs you and keeps you hooked.
As Leif Johnson for IGN says, it’s a game that’s “as bleak as it is beautiful”. It puts across that theme that we return to yet again – the majesty of the landscape as the backdrop to a harsh and violent world where, for many people, life is a struggle and things often don’t go right.
Cartoon style animation might not seem the perfect match for a gritty Viking story, but believe me, after playing Banner Saga, you’ll be wondering why every game isn’t drawn like this.
Volgarr the Viking (2013)
Image source: volgarrtheviking.com
It might have been released in 2013, but you could have fooled me. It’s designed in the mould of those infuriating but ingenious 80s platformers, and it fills its roll frustratingly well.
Simple controls and basic graphics might catch you off guard, but beware the game’s increasing difficulty and complexity as you delve further and fight bigger bosses.
It’s the perfect distillation of the unforgiving platformer with the brutal Viking theme. You have only one checkpoint for each level, so it might be wise to pad your walls for when you throw your controller or keyboard in fury. But stick with it with the dogged determination of a Viking and you’ll find little more satisfying.
Have you played any Viking games that deserve a mention? Let us know below in the comments.