It is not an exaggeration to say that Amazon the rings of power has been the subject of rampant criticism. Some people are understandably (and, in my opinion, rightly) upset that Amazon, of all things, is producing this show, and believe that it strays from the original beliefs of JRR Tolkien and the values that were used to make Lord of the Rings. Others are simply angered by the show’s diversity, which is, as we all know, a ridiculous level of absurdity.
Whichever way you fall, you’ll probably be disappointed for a cultural monolith like LOTR find yourself in such a dangerous situation. Lucky for you, Middle-earth was the direct inspiration for many modern fantasy and video games. And I think that games are probably one of the best ways to engage with literary concepts (second, you know, by reading the source material) because games allow people to directly participate in a world and experience it.
So, with all that said: yes the rings of power nurtured a LOTR You’re itching that you just can’t scratch it, here are some games that should hopefully help you with that.
Baldur’s Gate 3
All the baldur’s gate The titles are phenomenal masterpieces in game storytelling and world building, but I’m highlighting Baldur’s Gate 3, particularly since it’s still in early access and deserves all the support it can get. It’s a fantastic game so far, packed with clever writing and endlessly fun storylines that I’m still not sick of. Honestly, I can’t wait for the full release of the game, if only so I can take my relationship with the gothic half-elf Shadowheart to the next level.
If you are not familiar with this franchise, play directly from the world of Dungeons and Dragons, whose tradition was directly inspired by the works of Tolkien. In that sense, it might be as close to a spiritual successor as we can get… aside from, you know, actual Middle-earth video games out there.
Which I have not included in this list. Because they are comparatively medium. I’m sorry, I’m not sorry!
Yes, Skyrim it leaves a lot to be desired, but acting like it’s not an epic fantasy game in its own right is just pretentious. Poorly written or not, you can’t deny that it feels really, really good to traverse the game’s vast and beautiful landscapes while being followed by a magnificent orchestral score.
The most I like of Skyrim is that its depth comes from within the player. The game itself is somewhat superficial, but it creates the most epic sandbox with which to create a very personal and very fantastical narrative for the player to play. Whether you want to be a lone mage desperate to find meaning in your fights (my favorite playstyle), or just want to be a nervous puncher (a classic), there’s a way to be who you want to be.
When I was a child, I bought Forgot because it had horses inside. Then I met my first zombie within five minutes of playing the game, and it was such a traumatic core memory for me that I put off playing the game for several years.
However, now that I’ve finally given it an honest chance, I finally see what all the hype was about. Forgot kick ass Yeah, it’s a bit dated by modern standards, but if you install a few mods to help with graphics and bugs, it feels like new. There is an irresistible chaos for Forgot that makes you feel simultaneously like a god AND like a fresh-faced teenager who just won the lottery after working overtime at Papa John’s. Pizza Break, Stunt Skill…
Dragon Age: Origins
Oh yeah. My favorite game. If you’re familiar with my articles, you’re probably ready to strangle me for mentioning Dragon Age: Origins for the millionth time. Here’s the thing, though: it really is that goodand even with that said, every time i go to play it, i realize that it is STILL so good, and something else!
Dragon Age: Origins is a fantasy nerd’s dream come true. It’s the game that got me into fantasy in the first place, as I was bored to tears with my family’s games before. LOTR marathons. It’s got drama, intrigue, pranks, and hot boyfriends in puka shells, oh gosh yeah!
Although this game was written by GRRM and was intended to take influence from A song of ice and fireGRRM was inspired by JRRT and therefore I feel comfortable calling elden ring a fairly faithful homage to Middle Earth. He certainly feels like one, with all the beautiful gloom in the Forgotten Lands.
Of course, a game like this isn’t for the faint of heart, and the difficulty could reasonably be a turn off. But it’s still a gorgeous game worth exploring, with a rich lore and a sense of endless curiosity that you could completely lose yourself in.
Similarly, the difficulty Dark souls could be a turnoff. A very noticeable deviation. But then again, it would be a shame if people were put off by what could be one of the most beautiful and moving dark fantasy games of our time.
Dark souls it’s frustrating and sometimes unfair. But there’s a reason so many people love it. It is deliberately desolate, and in its desolation there is beauty and a sense of perseverance despite everything. “Don’t you dare become hollow” has become a kind of rallying cry for people to not only finish the game, but go on and see that kind of beauty in real life.
And of course there are giant birds.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Last summer was fun for me, but I must admit I wasted quite a few hours Divinity: Original Sin 2. Even during my most frustrating times (those damn oil fields…), I would walk away from my computer and still find myself thinking about it. It was the kind of game that is designed to get you hooked. The writing, the lore, the plot, it’s all completely riveting, in the best possible way.
In Divinity, you play as a Godwoken: a person who has been chosen to rise to godhood, for phenomenally intriguing reasons that are revealed to you over time. You can play as a custom character or as one of five pre-made characters that could become your companions. There are so many ways to play this game, and I already know that the next time I play it, I will lose myself again. It’s like an intermittent FWB situation – really annoying, but Really damn fun.
I will never stop banging my broom into a bucket from rooftops and proclaiming my love for Dragon’s Dogma, Capcom’s underrated middle child. Is the plot interesting? Not really. Is the tradition rich? Uh, debatable. But the game itself is liquid gold, guys, it manages to be unique in a market that has become too saturated with the same shit over and over again.
Your character has the stolen heart of Grigori, a reincarnated Dragon; this makes your character a Risen One, someone who is destined to ostensibly affect the cycle of Dragons, Life and Death. You are also associated with a fully customizable pawn: one of a legion of mysterious beings that can be recruited to aid the Arisen. There is a kind of poignant tranquility in Dragon’s Dogma that comes from your relationship with the world around you, and your relationship with not only your main pawn, but also the player-created pawns you recruit along your journey.
Also, the combat kicks absolute butt. #MagickArcherGang.
breath of the wild
I’ve seen breath of the wild compared to Lord of the Rings quite a bit, which surprised me at first, but in the end I understand. Both titles have the (young) protagonist going through a heroic journey against seemingly insurmountable odds. And both titles are absolutely fantastic.
If you’re reading this and rolling your eyes, sick of hearing about breath of the wild, believe me, I get it, I was there once. And then I played the game, and I had a rare moment where I realized the hype was totally deserved. Ultimately, I think most people are doing themselves a disservice by not playing BOTH OF THEM if they have the means to do so. It is one of those experiences that is difficult to put into words, you just have to live it.
shadow of the colossus
Oh-ho-hoooo, yeah. The big boy. Literally. I don’t think any game has come as close to touching me artistically as shadow of the colossus has. He manages to say and do a lot without saying or doing much, which speaks to his level of depth.
You play as a man looking to revive the woman he loves, but in order to do so, you must walk through a beautiful but completely lonely landscape and kill 16 beautiful colossi. It’s clear from the jump that this is a last ditch effort, but you have no choice but to do it.
I think it says something shadow of the colossus does LOTR they feel like a joyous romp through a field, yet they both carry that similar feeling of determination within them. If you’re curious, you can also get the icon combo pack Same vibes, twice the play.
If you have other suggestions to add to this list, be a hero and leave a comment below! Hot Girl Summer may be ending, but that doesn’t mean we should stop indulging in our love of fantasy games.
(Featured image: Bioware)
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