I thought I’d take some time out of talking about serious business to talk about video games, specifically video games that I’ve played that draw heavily on Norse mythology. This brief survey will mostly be limited to RPGs (specifically RPGs that I have played) but of course, the use of mythologies in general is not exclusive to RPGs.
Also note that there will be MAJOR SPOILERS for every game/series I discuss, so read with caution if you’re thinking of playing any of them.
The original Valkyrie Profile was released for the PS1 and an updated version was released for the PSP. It has a sequel (Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria) and a not-quite sequel spinoff game (Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume) for the Nintendo DS. My comments will mostly concern the first game, and Covenant of the Plume, because those are the one’s I’ve played.
In the first game, you play the titular Valkyrie, Lenneth, whose job it is to gather Einherjar for Ragnarok. Each of the Einherjar you recruit has their own story, and since Einherjar need to be dead before you can recruit them, you end up seeing a lot of death scenes (this game is not a cutesy anime thing). You can choose to keep Einherjar in your party, or send them to Asgard (in which case, you can check their progress and view scenes of them interacting with the gods). If you do send them to Asgard, I believe they do have a chance of dying (again!) before the endgame, but I never had that happen to me.
Deity-wise, you have the usual suspects: Odin, Tyr, Thor
Freyr Frei (who is a girl for some reason), Ullr, Hermod, Hodur, Eir, Vidar, Loki, and Freya. Freya’s role in the game can basically be summed up as “if you screw up too badly, she’ll destroy you”, and she will, even if you cheat and use codes. The other deities mainly show up in those scenes with the Einherjar that I talked about earlier. Odin has an important role in the end, but I’ll get to that in the moment. I should also note that the game confuses “Vanir” with “Jotun” which leads to the amusing assertion that Surt is one of the Vanir, just roll with it.
Anyways, big revelations concerning the deities only really happen if you get the “best” ending of the game. So here are some MAJOR SPOILERS in quick succession: The reason Odin is king of the gods is because he is really half elf, one of the characteristics of deities in this universe is that they are static, they don’t grow and change, but Odin is different, he changes, he learns, he can adapt, that’s what makes him so powerful. He also hates humans and views his fellow Aesir as expendable (don’t worry, he ends up dying).
Anyways, if you play your cards right (you need to lower a particular rating on your status screen, until Freya says “I am very disappointed in you,” and you also need to send Lucian to Asgard at a certain point) and you’ll end up facing Loki (who now looks like this). If you end up facing Surt, you did something wrong. Before facing Loki, however, you need to take care of his children. Jormungand is replaced by Bloodbane, who is HARD (his attacks WILL instantly kill you, so the only way to survive to the end is to make sure each party member has the Guts! ability and some really hard-hitting attacks) and Fenris is easy peasy (seriously, he has nothing on stupid Bloodbane) and then Lenneth goes on to rule the pantheon (or Freya does, or something).
Covenant of the Plume, in case you’re wondering, has Hel as a major character.
Shin Megami Tensei
SMT (and its spinoff series, Persona) is one of my favourite series. Unfortunately, many SMT games never make it out of Japan (it’s a niche series to the max) which is a shame, because the first game has a crazy Thor trying to cause a nuclear apocalypse (I’m serious).
Fortunately, there’s still Nocturne.
Nocturne’s Thor has a small role to play in the story, he’s an early boss (Boss #4, actually) and is best known for…taking exception….when one of the main antagonists tries to make him an offer he can’t refuse. An epic pwning ensues.
BTW, he looks like this.
While I’m at it, here are some more Norse deities and other beings:
Balder (Beldr in Devil Survivor for story reasons)
Those are the main ones I remember.
Skyrim is awesome and you must play it.
In Skyrim, you will find the manliest of manly Vikings (magic, as my character was told repeatedly, was for wussies, REAL MEN use swords and axes) and there are dragons, and the main gameplay mechanic works by killing dragons and eating their souls!
And for some reason, giants are way more powerful than dragons. I’d killed seventeen dragons before I managed to kill one giant (btw, did I mention that there’s an infinite number of dragons, and that dragons are completely unscripted?).
Here’s a random screenshot of a dragon. Yes, those hands with their wussy magic are mine. I tried to run away and the dragon roasted me (don’t worry, I came back and killed him).