Top 10 Video Games About The Norsemen And The Viking Age
In the passing of time, many video games portrayed the Norsemen (some with a pronounced fictional approach, other much more realistically). The following top consists of ten most illustrative video games about the Norsemen and the Viking Age.
Additionally, please keep in mind that historical accuracy is pivotal when doing research in order to create a video game, but if the developers were to stick 100% to it, then we would probably be either bored by that specific game (which strictly follows academic narratives) or we would be unpleasantly playing it, given the fact that it does not dispose of the needed amount of artistic license. In this respect, a balance between these characteristics must be always kept in mind. But, without further ado, here’s the top:
10. The Lost Vikings (1992)
Although quite old fashioned for today’s gaming standards, ‘The Lost Vikings’, firstly published by Interplay in 1992, and then re-published by Blizzard Entertainment in 2003, remains one of the earliest video games about the Vikings. In 2014 the game was uploaded to Battle.net as a free download, being emulated through DOSBox.
In spite of the fact that the Vikings are portrayed with horns on their helmets (which is certainly not historically accurate), the game can be considered a cult classic and a good way of entertaining yourself if you’re an old school gamer. It can be played on the following platforms: Amiga, Amiga CD32, Game Boy Advance, MS-DOS, Sega Genesis, SNES and PlayStation.
9. Saga: Rage of the Vikings (1998)
Saga: Rage of the Vikings is a 1998 real time strategy and fantasy video game developed by Cryo Interactive. The game revolves around the history of the Norsemen (being inspired by the saga of the Norwegian kings by Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson), the Norse mythology, and the Scandinavian folklore, with the player having to choose between different playable races (among which, most notably, are the dwarves or the elves).
The game also disposes of an interesting soundtrack that matches the world of the Norsemen. Below you can listen to the main theme song.
8. The Battle for Wesnoth (2003)
The Battle for Wesnoth is a strategy turn-based video game developed by David White and many others who subsequently joined his project. It was first released in 2003, a second time in 2005 (as version 1.0), and a third time in 2016 (as the stable 1.12.6 version).
Although it is not explicitly related to the history of the Norsemen or to the Viking Age, it does encompass a great deal of influences stemming from the Norse mythology (including the dragons), with a setting reminiscent to the mythical realms envisaged by J.R.R. Tolkien in his high fantasy novels. It can be played on the following platforms: Windows, Linux, and macOS. Best of all, it’s also freeware!
7. Völgarr the Viking (2013)
Völgarr the Viking is a 2013 platformer inspired by 1980s scrolling platform video games. It was developed by Crazy Viking Studios. It was published on Steam in 2013 and can be played on the following platforms: Windows, OS X, Linux, Play Station 4, and Xbox One. It was quite well received by the critics as well, even though all of its levels are extremely difficult.
6. Northgard (2016)
Northgard is a 2017 strategy turn-based video game developed by Shiro Games. It is based both on the Norse mythology and on the Norse discovery of North America at the round of the 11th century (the continent discovered in the game by a group of Vikings is called Northgard instead). The game was released in February 2017 on Steam.
5. War of the Vikings (2014)
War of the Vikings is a 2014 action video game developed by Fathshark and published by Paradox Interactive. The plot of the game is centred around the Norse conquest of England during the Early Middle Ages, with the player opting to set sail for Britain as a Norseman or stand his ground as an Anglo-Saxon.
The player can customise his character in such regards as heraldry, armoury, shield patterns, weaponry, and perks. There are five character classes in the game, namely: berserker (light class), shieldmaiden (light class), skirmisher (light class), warrior (medium class), and champion (heavy class). After its release, it was received with mixed critics. Unfortunately, as of February 2017, the game was reported not to be playable anymore.
4. Jotun (2015)
Jotun is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Thunder Lotus Games. It was first released in 2015 for PC and then several times in 2016 for other platforms such as Wii U, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One. The game relates the story of Thora, a fallen shieldmaiden who must struggle to defeat the mighty Jötunn (giant), venturing along the Yggdrasil tree, after she is sent to the legendary Norse otherworld. It was very well received by the critics.
3. Rune (2000/2001)
Rune is a third-person action-adventure video game developed by Human Head studios which was firstly released for Windows in late 2000. It is based on the Norse mythology and the player can eventually fully discover the depths of a virtually conceived mystic Norse realm. In 2001, a stand-alone expansion pack entitled ‘Rune: The Halls of Valhalla’ was released.
In 2012, Rune was re-released digitally under the moniker ‘Rune Classic’, alongside its expansion pack. Additionally, in the same year Human Head Studios considered creating a sequel to Rune. The game can be played on the following platforms: Linux, macOS, PlayStation 2, and Windows.
2. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings & The Conquerors (1999/2000)
Although not entirely about Viking but rather focused on the Middle Ages as a whole, ‘Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings’ comes with a very original approach towards the Norsemen with respect to real time strategy gaming. The Vikings are one of the playable civilisations in the game, being also depicted in some of its historical campaigns, most notably in the Conquerors expansion pack where they are to voyage to Vinland (i.e. Newfoundland and Labrador, present day Canada).
The Vikings share the same architectural style with another civilisation from the game, namely the Teutons, and have two unique units, specifically the berserk (which can be trained from the castle) and the longboat (which can be trained from the dock). ‘Age of Empires II’ can be played on the following platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and PlayStation 2. Additionally, according to the following top, the Vikings are the 4th best civilisation in the game:
1. Age of Mythology & The Titans expansion pack (2002/2003)
Once again, not entirely related to the Vikings or the Viking Age, but rather partly about their mythology and religion. The game focuses on the mythologies of four distinct Ancient civilisations which are (in no particular order): the Ancient Greeks, the Ancient Egyptians, the Norsemen, and the Atlanteans. It was developed by the creators of the Age of Empires series, specifically Ensemble Studios.
The Norse are a playable civilisation in this game and the player can choose between three major gods when the game starts. The three main Norse gods which the player can choose are Odin, Thor and Loki. Moreover, there are also minor Norse gods/goddesses which the player can choose as the game progresses; in order to advance to a new age, you are to choose between the following Norse divinities: Forseti, Freyja, Bragi, Skaldi, Baldr, Tyr, Heimdall, Njord, and Hel.
They also have the following unique units: the dwarf (which can be trained from the town center), the ulfsark (which can be trained from the town center or longhouse), the throwing axeman (which can be trained from the longhouse), the raiding cavalry (trainable from the longhouse as well), the huskarl (which can be trained from the hill fort), the jarl (which can be trained from the hill fort as well).
They also have many other mythical units which can be trained from the temple, depending on which minor god they decided to advance through. It can be played on both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Below you can watch a gameplay video depicting the Norse civilisation in ‘Age of Mythology’ developed by Ensemble Studios:
- Saga: Rage of the Vikings on www.wikipedia.org (in French)
- Volgarr the Viking on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- The Battle for Wesnoth on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Battle for Wesnoth official website on www.wesnoth.org
- Northgard official website on www.northgard.net
- War of the Vikings on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Jotun (video game) on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- The Lost Vikings on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Rune (video game) on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Age of Empires II on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Age of Mythology on www.wikipedia.org (in English)