What with the popularity of the God of War franchise, and the release of its most recent game God of War: Ascension…
…which is a weird sort of name, come to think of it, considering that I don’t think any of the characters actually ascended in this game, if by ascending you mean going straight to heaven without having to die first.
Which I always do.
Anyway, since this is Greek mythology they’d really have to descend to get to their equivalent of heaven – unless they’ve pleased the gods big time and get to eat ambrosia and become gods themselves and laze around on Olympus all day. Then again, Kratos will do both of those in his own time in games to come, or games that have already come, and oh lord prequels are annoying sometimes so let’s just call it God Of War: Thing That Didn’t Happen.
What the characters did do, incidentally, was either get killed, or kill a lot of people and then get killed. Good to know Kratos hasn’t changed his modus operandi. Or never changed it or no! Bad prequel, bad!
…anywho, getting back on track; with the release of God of War: Thing That Didn’t Happen, I’ve been considering other mythologies that game companies could use as material when creating new and interesting products for the consumer market. Such as Ōkami , which I shall be covering in another post, which does a masterful job of adapting Japanese legends into a gorgeous action, platform, and puzzle solving game. Dante’s Inferno, which will have yet another post to itself, does a…less than masterly job of adapting what is essentially a self-insert fanfiction about the Christian religion, but the results are still interesting. Games like Ragnarok and its ilk and Too Human owe various amounts of debt to Norse mythology, and games like Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy and PowerSlave/Exhumed/Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no Fukkatsu have their roots in, you guessed it, Egyptian mythology.
That being said, that last pantheon has been rather neglected for a while, so for your pleasure and entertainment, let me imagine a game based on a certain chapter of Egyptian mythology that’s particularly insane, violent and crazy awesome. Which would certainly never work as a real game of any sort, because of reasons.
You would play as Isis, goddess of motherhood and the throne of Egypt and, most importantly in this scenario, magic. The game would chronicle her growth in power and wisdom, from a small-scale player all the way up…or down, rather, to the goddess of the underworld, as well as the journey and story of her son, Horus, and how they became two of the most important figures in the Egyptian pantheon.
The story would start with Isis as a young woman, let’s say about sixteen, in the court of the Sun God Ra. Ra has been ruling Egypt for quite a while now, but the mortal form he took to do so is catching up with him. He’s old, crumbling and less capable than ever of fighting off Apophis, the snake which seeks to devour the world. For the good of the world and everything in it, Ra needs to relinquish his hold on the mortal realm and return to being the Sun God. But he’s not just going to step aside.
Isis plans to do something about that.
The first level would be something of a stealth mode, spying on Ra as he takes his daily walk, eluding guards, overhearing crucial information and then taking the spittle that’s leaked from Ra’s drooling mouth, mixing it with earth to make mud and fashioning it into a cobra. All without being spotted, of course.
Then Isis leaves the serpent by the side of the path, and follow Ra in his procession the next day, waiting for the crucial moment to activate your cobra so that it’ll rear up and bite Ra in the ankle.
Yes, you’ve just painfully and possibly fatally poisoned an old man, even if he is really the Sun God. Congratulations!
Of course, this is just Step One in your plans. Step Two is to let all the other gods try to cure him first, and only when he’s shrieking in pain and agony does Isis step forward and offer to cure him – though, of course, she’ll need his real name to do so. Ra is understandably reluctant, but eventually he gives in and whispers his Secret Name to her, vastly improving the magical abilities that she already has.
True to her word, Isis cures him. Ra decides that’s he’s had enough of Earth, shucks his mortal form and heads on back to the sky…leaving Egypt without a king. It just so happens that the most suitable man for the job is…
Osiris, Isis’s husband. Who probably would not also be her brother in this version, since incest is apparently only acceptable when the villains are doing it.
Osiris becomes the king of Egypt and Isis the queen. There’d be a short interim period where they’d govern the kingdom and teach people things, and Isis would learn to control her new powers, and then…all change, since Osiris is all of a sudden murdered at a banquet by somehow managing to get himself sealed inside a chest and thrown in the Nile.
Yes, spoilers for a four thousand year old religion by the way, Osiris dies.
Now Isis must track down her husband’s body, since without the proper burial rites he can’t pass through into the afterlife. She must search through the land of Egypt, while using her magic to defeat various evil monsters who are emerging in the world. Are they the servants of Apophis, or are they driven on by something closer to home?
Eventually she finds the chest which holds Osiris’s body, as a pillar in the palace of Byblos. She embarks on a stealth mission to get into the palace, taking different forms and growing closer to the infant prince, Diktys, who’s been put into her care. An attempt to make him immortal backfires, but it does gain her the chest at last.
But, as it turns out, as soon as she gets her husband’s body home and is about to perform the funeral rites, who should turn up but his brother Set? (Who would have shown up before this, but I haven’t seen fit to mention him until now.) Set is furious that you’ve found Osiris, since he’s the one who killed him in the first place out of spite and jealousy. Not that Isis is unsurprised by this, but she’s helpless to stop Set from stealing Osiris’s body, tearing it into fourteen pieces and scattering the pieces across Egypt.
Oh you rassa friggin’ little shit, do you have any idea how long that took to…
Okay. Fine. Now Isis has to search for the fourteen pieces of her husband’s body. Joining her in her quest would be Anubis, the jackal headed god, outcast son of Set, who can turn into a dog in order to help with the search, and his mother, Nephtys, Isis’s sister and Set’s former wife. There’d also be her seven scorpion servants: Petet, Tjetet, Matet, Mesetet, Mesetetef, Tefen and Befen, who have their own amusing if rather dark side adventure. There would be Thoth, the god of wisdom, whom Isis can discuss things with and learn from, and Buto, the cobra shaped goddess of Lower Egypt, who provides a hideout for Isis and takes care of her baby son, Horus, while his mother is away.
At one point there’ll be a flash back level, phrased as a cautionary tale from Thoth to Isis, in which you’d play as Sekhmet, a goddess whom Ra had sent to curb the evils of men – and who proceeded to slaughter a whole bunch of people, until she could be curtailed, allowing you to fight with something other than magic for once, and experience some moral dissonance by killing people when Isis has been protecting them.
Eventually Isis would find all the pieces of Osiris’s body – except for the bit which had been eaten by fishes – join them together and bury him properly. But then, horror of horrors, Set – who Isis has been hiding from, with much stealth mode – sends a scorpion to sting little Horus. He dies in his mother’s arms. But all is not lost, Thoth claims; Horus’s soul has simply gone to visit his father’s in the afterlife, and will soon return to his body.
Here Horus would become the secondary character, as he meets his father in the afterlife and is taught by him to fight and rule. Horus and Isis would then fight together against the forces of Set, in order to win back Egypt and avenge Osiris; Isis fighting with her magic and Horus with his strength of arms. At one point Horus will be blinded by Set, which could lead to several interesting sequences. And the final fight between mother, son and uncle, in a huge battle of the gods with Ra himself fighting on the side of good, would be awesome.
This probably wouldn’t make a very good game. It would be awkward to introduce a second protagonist so relatively late into the gameplay, plus the fact that Isis would be fighting with only magic, as she wouldn’t use physical weapons, and there are all sorts of other reasons that I can’t spot but that people who regularly play games would find problematic in terms of story or gameplay.
But if there was a game like this, I’d like to give it a try.