The fantastical and over the top tales woven throughout mythology have enthralled audiences for centuries. Even after the fall or end of a civilization, people still find enjoyment in the sagas from the past. Over the past few decades classic legends have been used in modern mediums to great success and acclaim; strangely, a lot of people fail to notice this. It’s shocking how many people do not realize that the gods Odin, Loki, and Thor were not created by Marvel Comics. That is not a joke or sarcasm, a shocking number of people fail to realize this.
Video games are no exception to the power and influence of ancient mythology. No where is this more evident then in the revisionist lore of the God of War franchise. Since its release in 2005, God of War has had three main titles, two portable tie-ins, a mobile game, and a prequel; all seven of these focused on the struggles of Kratos and his battle with the ancient Greek gods.
Last week, information hit the internet about the fourth numerical installment to the franchise. In this leak came a bit of a change of pace for the series. Most notably, the shift from Greek to Nordic mythology. Much like the classic Greek stories, the tapestry of Nordic lore is rich and full. Still, one cannot help but think about other directions that God of War could have gone. Let’s take a look at some other periods of mythology that would have made a riveting fit in the franchise.
THE RENEWAL OF MAAT
One of the most recognizable and nearly saturated periods of mythology is ancient Egyptian. The beautiful thing about shaping a video game around Egyptian mythology is the cross section of familiarity and refreshing. Most people have an image in mind of ancient Egypt; the desert landscapes, great pyramids, mysterious sphinx. Furthermore, video games have tackled facing down the surmountable task of a polytheism system. Much like God of War and ancient Greek mythology, Egyptian myths give way to a vast and varied set of gods as well. Not to mention, the gods in Egyptian lore tend to have slightly more colorful and ornate forms, just begging to be digitized in a video game.
A take on Egyptian mythology that could lend itself to a vivid and theoretical video game is the system of maat. The basis for ancient Egyptian myths is that time and the present is a series of reoccurring patterns and cycles; think of the cycle of nature in the seasons. Earlier periods of time were linear and, through the actions of the gods, set the patterns that are reoccurring today. The present world repeats these patterns from the myths, thus renewing maat, or the fundamental order of the universe. By chance, the god Heh, depicted as part frog or with a snake head, is called the timeless or endless one, with the ability to manipulate time. It would not be hard for a deity with such power to throw the cycles of maat off course.
Another rich tapestry of lore can be found in traditional Japanese mythology. Just by following and melding some of the tales found in the Kojiki (The Record of Ancient Matters,) can be more legend and saga for one franchise to hold. With honestly innumerable gods and creatures to choose from and incorporate, a God of War style game could span across time and space, creation and destruction all in a single level.
For a rather interesting start to a Japanese mythological game of epic proportions, one could start with the story of Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto, the exalted male and female respectively. As the seventh and final generation of Kamiyonanayo, or the seven generations of the gods, created the archipelago of Japan and engender the later gods. Once the naginata was dipped into the ocean, the drops that fell created the islands of Japan. Upon their meeting, Izanami’s disrespect for tradition caused their children were deformed and sent away to sea. Upon their second attempt, practices were followed and proper children were born. This alone sets the ground work for a massively impressive return to honor story. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of a single piece of folk lore.
ALL OF THE GREAT SPIRIT
A third, and equal engrossing, set of mythological beliefs that third person action game could delve into would be that of indigenous American mythology. Here, the lore and legends span across countless different tribes and regions, all with mild similarities and great differences. Once again including large numbers of gods and goddess alongside mythical creatures, a captivating story with high level action and adventure waits to be fleshed out.
Pulling from Cherokee mythology in particular, the evil earth spirit Uya could begin wreaking havoc while you, a lone hunter from your tribe must fight against the dark spirit for the better of the world. An interesting mechanic to implement would be the Great Spirit, or deity of the earth that all things are bound together through. All of your actions effect the balance of the Great Spirit, and even when you are doing the justice thing, remember you are still ending the life of one of earth’s beings.
God of War brought mythology to the forefront of the video game medium. The implementation of Greek mythology with a revisionist twist has held gamers engaged for years, with even more to come. The recent leaks pertaining to God of War 4 leaving behind ancient Greece for Nordic legends opens the question, and possibility, for other mythological traditions to be tackled in the future. Here are only three out of countless options of ever-entertaining legends found throughout the world.