As gaming often times represents technological advancement and a step into the future, titles reflect that and an abundance of futuristic settings fill our TV screens. Popular titles like Halo, Deus Ex, Overwatch and Horizon: Zero Dawn all spirit us away to an Earth that we might never see, but that doesn’t mean games don’t take us back to the past from time to time. As a matter of fact, some of the best games out there are set in ancient lands and ancient times. So we’re knocking the dust off of a few classics and highlighting a few times video games transported us to a time long forgotten, whether it be on Earth or otherwise.
Let’s start off with a lesser-known title that merges the world of the dead with that of the gambling.
Rich Wilde and the Book of the Dead
Indiana Jones, Lara Croft and Nathan Drake – what do they have in common? No, it’s not that inherent coolness and a slick demeanor, it’s a desire to find every and any piece of valuable artifact that they can. Rich Wilde, while he might not be a household name for most, does much of the same in the Book of Dead slot game where he looks to unravel the mysteries behind an Egyptian book. Admittedly, most of the storyline is implied, but the sandy sarcophagus setting that evokes ancient feelings of wonder won it a place on this list. This game just goes to show that not every title has to have all the new age bells and whistles associated with most titles today. You just need a game to win and a setting to call home.
Shadow of the Colossus
Sometimes, actually, many times in video games you just have to save the girl. You step on a couple of turtles, collect a few triangles, put on your best suit of armor and voila, you’re a hero. That’s not the case with Shadow of the Colossus, though. Instead, you have to defeat 16 colossal creatures, some as tall as buildings, that are located across a vast and varied landscape. The area in question is considered forbidden and was evacuated long before the game begins. Thus, the only remnants of humanity that remain are scattered ruins throughout the map. This ancient land was beautifully crafted and serves as a wonderfully dreary platform to tell the bleak story that is Shadow of the Colossus, a game considered to be one of the best of all time.
We’re going to take a step way back in time with this one, as Bonk’s Adventure focuses on a cave boy and his adventure through a dinosaur-filled world. This little guy fights all sorts of prehistoric creatures on his mission to rescue, wait for it, a princess. Games were so creative back then! Although graphics back then were no where near what we’re treated to these days, the colorful jungle backdrops and imposing volcanoes still painted a vivid picture of a world ruled by lizards. With retro virtual console re-releases to this day, Bonk still gets some love among Nintendo fans willing to buy the download and has even made an appearance as a mobile game back in 2006. Who can resist a platformer that combines the gameplay of Mario and the aesthetic of the Flintstones?
And last but not least, we have a beloved franchise that’s looking at its tenth anniversary come November. Set in various locations around the world and told from the perspective of Desmond Miles, a current-day bartender with lineage in a group of infamous assassins. Assassin’s Creed might not go as far back as Bonk’s Adventure, but it touches on historical locations such as Imperial China, India, Colonial America, Jerusalem, London and The Caribbean during different time periods ranging from the end of the 1100s to as late as the 1900s. Each setting captures languages, architecture and clothing with an expertise rivalling that of many noteworthy movies – hefty praise considering video games are often looked at as an inferior medium.
As games become more advanced, it’s titles like these that make us hope developers continue to focus on the past, bringing to life history that’s fresh for the retelling. Maybe it’s time for a Jack the Ripper horror game or a dating simulator set in the stone ages. Either way, we’re excited to see what the past holds for gaming.