Games are an escape. They allow us to flee from our mundane realities and enter worlds where we feel empowered by incredible abilities. Of course, when you suddenly grant someone god-like powers, they’ll go around and see what pandemonium (read: fun) they can cause. Luckily, as games are an aforementioned escape, it’s safe to give the average person this omnipotence. Here are some games where that new might is rewarding, chaotic, or just plain entertaining.
God of War
I mean, it’s even in the title of the game. The God of War series puts players in the sandals of legendary Greek warrior-turned-deity Kratos, as he solves all of his problems the only way he knows how: with violence. Whether fighting off the armies of Hades or slaying a Titan, you have many methods of mayhem at your disposal. While all of the entries give you this tremendous power, God of War 3 in particular provides players with the most intense power fantasy. Not only are the controls much tighter, but watching Olympus fall in high definition graphics is an unparalleled experience. It’s just as gratifying to cleave enemies in twain with the Blades of Chaos as it is to cook them from the inside out with lightning. It’s a perfect outlet for aggression. Each game in the series gives Kratos new weapons and magical abilities, but nevertheless you are given the same, general instruction to create havoc and wash yourself in the blood of your foes. By the time you’re done, every ounce of rage is sure to have left your system, but, like Kratos, you just want to dive back in for more.
Batman Arkham Trilogy
“Be the Batman.” That’s the advertising campaign used to promote the final entry in Rocksteady’s trio of games following the Caped Crusader. And as you explore the caverns of Arkham Asylum and make your way into Gotham proper, you get to feel more and more like the Batman with every entry. It’s more than possible to take on goons with your fists, but as the difficulty of the game escalates, you’re forced to think more and more like the world’s greatest detective and use stealth to your advantage. It’s much more challenging but rewarding to strike from the shadows, sneaking through air ducts or across rooftops to defeat baddies without ever being seen. Plus, you have a utility belt full of gadgetry, from batarangs to freeze guns, which can be used in combat or to solve puzzles. The latest game even allows players to navigate the Batmobile through metropolitan areas. There’s a rogue’s gallery of villains to take on, and only you can be the hero that Gotham deserves. You assume the mantle of Batman, paralleling Bruce Wayne assuming his alternate identity and, like Bruce, you learn what it really takes to be a hero.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
The Lord of the Rings is the epitome of fantasy. It’s provided everything we know as near and dear to the genre, from the races, to the history, to the mythology, and has inspired countless other books, films, shows, and games. Even now as the franchise reaches its eightieth year (starting with The Hobbit in 1937), the mythos of the world is continually added to. Taking place between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, Shadow of Mordor has players controlling a ranger bonded with a specter, flitting between the worlds of life and death. Utilizing your skills with swords and new abilities provided by the wraith, you begin a one-man assault on the home of Sauron. The combat is extremely similar to the Batman Arkham series, providing the same kind of satisfaction when eliminating uruks. The centerpiece of this game, however, is its Nemesis System, and this is where the power trip really starts. With the system, you can exert a level of control over your enemies that’s just not available in other games. You can put a name, face, and attributes to essentially any enemy in the game, and the game will individually track and record all of the orc captains and warchiefs you come across. If you fail to eliminate them, they might come back stronger or joined by another captain in order to take you down. Luckily, you can hunt them before they hunt you. If “being able to track down a single specific enemy and eliminate him with ghostly abilities” doesn’t scream powerful, I don’t know what does.
Synergy may be an awful term used in the corporate world, but it’s actually an extremely crucial part of the seminal dungeon crawler series, Diablo. Each game in the franchise provides players with several unique classes, equally capable of rending apart their enemies. This is a game that rewards time with power. Every time you find a new weapon or armor, you become slightly stronger and more capable. The improvements may be small at first, but over time, they exponentially ramp up and lead to huge stat boosts. This is only magnified when you find legendary items and armor sets, which further augment your deadly abilities. Knowing which gear to use in order to fully maximize your abilities allows you to transcend that barrier between a semi-helpless warrior and a whirling dervish of death. The core gameplay of Diablo is built upon this idea of becoming increasingly powerful and finding increasingly better loot by tearing through enemies like wet tissue paper. No matter what class you pick, it’s relatively easy to pick up a weapon and start mowing through the armies of Hell.
Honorable Mention: Asura’s Wrath
I was first introduced to this game back at San Diego Comic Con 2010. Unfamiliar with the new IP, I picked up the controller and tried my hand at the demo. Two words flew through my mind as it began: “Holy s**t.” You begin fighting a demigod the size of a mountain, pulverizing one another with vicious blows, until, nearly defeated, you reach your full power and hit him with a right cross so hard, it sends him shooting out of the stratosphere and into space. And that’s only the first part of the demo. The game is full of these increasingly epic scenes, reminiscent of Dragon Ball Z in scale and tone, culminating in a clash with world-ending forces and gods. You wield the power of mantra, emotions manifested as magical powers, and as Asura’s mantra affinity is Wrath…you can see where I’m going from here. If nothing else, this game is just extremely entertaining to watch. It somehow manages to be over-the-top ridiculous and brazenly cool at the same time. After all, if we’re talking about raw power, what other game lets you take on the god of all creation in a one-on-one fist fight?
Whether it’s through aggressive release or the ability to manipulate everyone around you, the power expressed through games is unlike anything else. Do you have any suggestions for our list? What games make you feel like an unstoppable force? Let us know in the comments below.