Most gamers have been talking about God of War Ragnarok for the past few weeks, at least in regard to Norse mythology. But did you know there are a plethora of other Norse Mythology-inspired games you can play right now? As a huge fan of Norse mythology, I’ve spent a great deal of time exploring the nine realms and unleashing Ragnarok one too many times. I'm sorry. It's just so incredibly addicting. Especially when I’m essentially gaming different points of view of the same thing.
Perhaps it's the gods' unwavering perseverance in the face of the most difficult challenges. Or the way they always want to maintain their honor. All this even if some of the things the gods do would be questionable in today's society. Still, becoming a Viking and exploring Greek mythology's folktales has never been more attractive. And that’s exactly why I've compiled a list of the five best games based on Norse mythology for your pleasure. It's time to shake things up!
5. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, released in 2017, is an action-adventure game in the Hellblade series set in the Viking age, with the main goal of virtually tearing your heart out. There is no journey as engrossing yet terrifying as the main character's. A Celtic warrior named Senua, quests to free her dead lover's soul. It's a journey into Viking Hell itself. One that necessitates sacrifice as the name of the game, lest you say you weren't warned.
What sets Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice apart, though, is the level of mental health implications Senua experiences via auditory and visual hallucinations. Voices in Senua's head torment her on her journey to hell. This instills self-doubt, anxiety, and so on as if there was more trauma needed for such a far-fetched journey to hell. Still, the story's interweaving of mental health psychosis and Norse mythology is quite well-executed. This provides a strategic intertwining of myth and reality altogether. The end result is an incredible storytelling performance that references ancient Scandinavia and leads up to the final face-to-face showdown with Hela, the goddess of the dead.
Jotun, also an action-adventure game, follows Thora, a Viking warrior who died in disgrace and now wants to prove that she, despite her death, deserves a seat at the table. I love Jotun because of the hand-drawn animation scenes that are exquisite and much different from most Norse Mythology games. For that reason, it’s easy to dismiss Jotun. Yet there’s a wealth of Norse mythology charm here that’s strikingly similar to some of the familiar names, faces, and places you already know.
On the road to Valhalla, you encounter the five Jötunn, essentially giant Norse creatures. One of which includes Odin himself, whom you must fight to gain the god’s approval and access the gates of Valhalla. It’s quite a fun indie game to play, with puzzle-solving, exploration, and elemental displays of power littered here and there. Plus, if nothing else, the authentic Icelandic narration of the short play should ease you well into the game.
Most Norse mythology games integrate the ideas and myths of the Norse gods into their stories. However, Valheim focuses more on a World of Warcraft-like procedurally generated open-world system of collecting resources and crafting supplies and weapons out of them. Depending on your work ethic, new areas and challenges open up to you. You could even bring a friend or two and make taking down trolls and big bosses that much more fun.
Survival adventure in every sense of the two words, Valheim is a game finely rooted in Norse Mythology yet ingrained with the survival tactics we love from games like Minecraft. It’s a purgatory sort of place for Odin’s slain Vikings, where they’re reassigned to serve a new purpose. So there is none of that pressure to perform on the battlefield. Instead, you’re free to tag along with up to 10 players, explore the environment together at your own pace, and engage in various Norse-inspired battles as you see fit. Although Valheim is only in Early Access, it’s managed to garner over 5 million copies sold, a fact that only speaks to the love and huge potential the finished product will surely rack up.
2. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Ubisoft's Assassin’s Creed series could give God of War a run for its money for its expansive explorative worlds and engaging story missions along the way. Taking on the role of a female or male Viking named Eivor Varinsdottir, gamers must journey through the 872–878 AD Viking invasion of the British Isles. And as the Brotherhood and the Templar Order cross arms with one another, it gives you plenty of room to thwart ideologies and enemy frontlines, building your combat skills as you go.
Most of all, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla pays tribute to Norse mythology in the historical narrative it uses, including instances where you come face-to-face with Loki’s wolf son, Fenrir, Odin’s famous companion ravens, and even take a trip to Valhalla itself, albeit a drug-induced one, to speak to Esir and Odin himself. Keep in mind, though, that besides its many historical references, there are also instances where not-quite-historical ideas that the game referenced reflect more on the modern era.
1. God of War
These five best games based on Norse mythology would be incomplete without a mention of God of War. After all, it’s the series most gamers will be familiar with. Following the death of Kratos’ wife, a buff, grieving Kratos must now find a way to humanize his cynicism-self and connect with his son, Atreus, on an emotional level. Fortunately, they have a long journey ahead of them across the nine realms. They embark on addicting combat sequences with other antagonistic gods and solve intriguing puzzles along the way.
It's an adventure you won't want to miss. God of war is certainly the game with the most references to Norse god legends and myths. Only this time it interweaves into a completely new and original plot in a way no other game has been able to do.