December 6, 2022

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6 video games to play if you liked The Northman

Director Robert Eggers’ The Northman has given audiences a bloody, Viking-themed revenge epic with an enticing touch of mysticism and fantasy to chew on. Vikings and Norse mythology are an unsurprisingly popular backdrop for such action-fueled stories and those that walk out of the theater hungry for more movies like The Northman shouldn’t have to look far.

Video games are another medium with plenty of Viking and/or Norse-inspired worlds to become immersed. And while not all of them are strictly Viking tales, their settings and influences based on those stories should make these games more than immersive enough.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (2020)

The protagonist of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla shouting in battle and wielding two axes.

Undoubtedly the most relevant game to The Northman here, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is the publisher/developer’s latest entry in the franchise. While longtime fans are understandably burnt out on what once was an assassin-themed stealth-action game turning into a more run-of-the-mill open-world game, Valhalla was still well-received for what it was.

Its strong reviews came from being a fun Viking romp featuring an open-world RPG wrapping, with Ubisoft having tweaked their mechanics since expanding the series into an open-world RPG format. Players can even build their own settlements and raid rival tribes. What more could you want from a Viking game?

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor/War (2014/2017)

Split image of Talion combined with the wraith in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and War cover arts.

These are the first of the games that aren’t necessarily Viking-focused, but the world that revered fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien meticulously crafted borrows from several elements of mythological folklore. WB Games and Monolith Productions’ Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War should scratch that fantastical revenge-themed itch.

The games are set in their own canon separate from the books and movies, and star an original character and Gondorian Ranger named Talion who bonds with the spirit of a fallen Elf Lord named Celebrimbor. This prequel story sees the two team up to exact revenge on those who murdered their families, which evolves in the sequel to raising an army against Sauron. It’s a fitting theme coming off The Northman, and Monolith excels, in particular, with tits Batman: Arkham-inspired combat system and signature “Nemesis System” in defeating and changing the power hierarchy of enemy orc tribes.

Both Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and War are available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

God of War (2018)

Kratos and Atreus riding in a boat together in God of War promo art.

Sony and Santa Monica Studios’ tentpole God of War franchise started on the PlayStation 2 as a Greek mythology-focused epic, but the 2018 soft reboot flexed its creative muscles. The original PS2 and PlayStation Portable games were praised as high-octane and bombastic action games, but the latest entry takes Kratos’ story down to a much more cinematic and intimate level.

Kratos now has to raise his son as a single father while being haunted by the ghosts of his vengeful, blood-soaked past and being confronted by major mythological figures. These elements combine for an engrossingly personal narrative with a satisfyingly visceral combat system.

God of War is available on PS4 and PC.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017)

Senua wearing her war paint in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice promo art.

Developers Ninja Theory created one of the most inventively cerebral and psychologically thrilling games in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The story puts players in the shoes of the titular Senua, a Celtic warrior traveling through the Norse land of Helheim desperate to save the soul of her murdered husband from the goddess Hela.

It’s a grippingly cinematic game, using elements of the survival-horror genre to explore otherworldly beings in intense combat, as well as plumb the depths of Senua’s traumatized psyche with an impressive balance of tact and intrigue. The game is due for a sequel in the form of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II for Xbox Series X|S and PC, and the stunning cinematic nature of these games seems like something The Northman‘s Robert Eggers himself would have directed.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is available on PS4, XBO, XSX|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)

The Dragonborn poised for battle with the shadow of a dragon looming.

Similar to the aforementioned The Lord of the Ringsgames, Bethesda’s sweeping high-fantasy world of The Elder Scrolls also borrows elements from Norse mythology. Especially so with the oft-released fifth entry, Skyrim, as its land draws heavy visual and thematic inspirations from its folklore.

The land of Skyrim is set against the backdrop of political turmoil between two major Nordic clans, all while the Dragonborn protagonist needs to deal with the threat of Alduin, the draconic World-Eater, from leading a dragon-ridden apocalypse. This open-world action RPG was a landmark game for the medium, and its addictive level of replayability stands even after almost 11 years.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is available on PS4, PS5, XBO, XSX|S, Switch, and PC.

Robert Eggers’ The Northman is now playing in theaters.

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