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30-08-2011, 05:35 PM #1
Earlier I complained about Dragon Age named Dragon Age simply because it got to have a fantasy buzzword in its title. It is, of course, ironic that of all the settings, fantasy is probably the most stale and unimaginative. You are required to have dwarves that like to drink, elves that like to cuddle trees, orcs that like to murder everyone for no good reason and humans that are just bland. I am very certain people have already noticed and commented on this decades ago so I won't go into that much further.
I guess many of you know countless examples in literature but hey, this is a forum about PC gaming.
What atypical fantasy games do you know?
So far I can only think of:
-Morrowind (the other TES games not such much but still, often seems like something that originated in the 70s)
-Arcanum (borderline example, presents a stereotypical fantasy world that hits the industrial revolution and borders on deconstruction of both)
-Thief series (some steampunk elements as well as supernatural stuff going on, very underrated in the worldbuilding aspect, I believe)
-Ultima/Wizardry/Might & Magic (Ultima had very gratuitious sci-fi elements in the early instances; the other series seem like typical fantasy (and they mostly are) but have strong sci-fi backgrounds. See the infamous but scrapped Forge faction for Heroes of Might and Magic 3 for how far that went)
-Planescape: Torment (that's kind of the point, I guess)
-Bloodlines (urban fantasy, a criminally underutilized setting for games on the PC)
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30-08-2011, 05:46 PM #2
30-08-2011, 05:53 PM #3
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30-08-2011, 06:30 PM #4
Weird. I almost posted a thread just like this. I generally don't really like fantasy in games, but I'm starting to think it is because the fantasy in games is usually so cliched and unimaginative (Tolkein and DnD...). I played the demos for Zeno Clash and Dominions 3 and loved the worlds they created and would ike to see more games try original fantasy.
30-08-2011, 06:35 PM #5
30-08-2011, 07:15 PM #6
As much as I dislike mentioning this game because I don't feel it deserves the praise it gets, FF7 had a fairly contemporary feeling fantasy world.
30-08-2011, 07:15 PM #7
cliched and unimaginative (Tolkein
The real problem is that generic fantasy (Tolkienesque) borrows the broad strokes of Tolkien without getting into the really interesting bits. They're piss-poor imitations. Elves and dwarves are great, but not when you simply paint them up as wooden caricatures.
Darklands is notable for recreating a mythologically accurate version of 15th century Germany. Everything that people believed in at the time - witches, dragons as manifestations of the devil, the Wild Hunt, demonic influences, strange wood creatures, the power of saints - was true in the game, with a little artistic license. The result felt quite plausible.
Anything Lovecraftian gets bonus points in my book, though I don't think there are any really good PC game examples.
30-08-2011, 07:24 PM #8
Rise of legends had a nice spin on the fantasy setting. The Vinci, with mechanical men, Mayan/Alienesque Cuotl and the Arabian like Alin, magical genies and such.
The game was a by the numbers RTS of the vintage, but the setting could work for another game for sure.
30-08-2011, 07:25 PM #9
30-08-2011, 07:33 PM #10
30-08-2011, 07:37 PM #11
30-08-2011, 07:44 PM #12
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30-08-2011, 08:00 PM #13
It really depends on what you mean by fantasy. If you want to stick with the swords'n'sorcery archetype*, then you need to remember that we're still in a world dominated by Middle Earth. That's where dwarves who like to drink, elves who hug trees, evil orcs and bland humans come from, after all, and Tolkien's influence has pretty much reverberated all throughout fantasy literature, movies and games ever since**. Dungeons and Dragons ended up being so successful it only exacerbated the effect.
In the last 10-15 years or so, we've started seeing works born from the minds of the children of people who grew up with Tolkien (see China Mieville, Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie Tom Lloyd amongst others) and there's a definite movement away from the Tolkien-template. It's always going to be there, in the background, and it's possibly always going to be the reference for anyone creating a fantasy world, even if it's subconscious.
Because these tropes are familiar, they're successful. That's why they're tropes.
*Science fiction is also a form of fantasy - it just tends to get labelled differently.
**Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, and I don't doubt that someone will speak up <i>very</i> soon to tell me so.
30-08-2011, 08:16 PM #14
I cannot agree more, I hate how dull fantasy settings have become of late. The races are so similar that to compare it to say sci-fi would not mean that all worlds have to have an angry somewhat barbaric seeming race but that every single one has klingons.
The most interesting game world I've seen in recent years is still Zeno Clash.
Guild wars also has some fairly interesting seeming areas, especially looking into the 2nd.
The level of detail in the background they've given to some of the races seems fantastic and I can't wait to explore it.
Also away from the PC (unfortunately) one of the more fun fantasy worlds I've explored is brutal legend, it's roots are clear but it comes together quite well as a world.
30-08-2011, 09:15 PM #15
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The Shin Megami Tensei franchise and its spinoffs (despite being console-only except that one MMO) has (I feel) a good stab at urban fantasy, with modern settings mixing in with demons from various mythologies and religions, and some of its games link said demons to the character's psyches. Also, if you've ever heard of a little game in which characters shoot themselves to summon demons, this series is host to it.
Also, one other game in this franchise had satanic, resurrected Hitler as a big antagonist. As you would expect, it stayed in Japan until recently, with Atlus bringing over the PSP port.
Last edited by cosmicolor; 30-08-2011 at 09:19 PM.
30-08-2011, 09:31 PM #16
I think so many games are Tolkien-esque because the setting and the tropes are so familiar at this point that little suspension of belief is required. Even people that normally stay away from the fantasy genre know the elves and dwarves and so don't have to stretch themselves very far to play along. Its all fantasy but not toooooo fantastic to alienate the masses.
Take a look at something like Little Big Adventure instead. Weird stuff, really quite out there. I think back to some of the jerks I knew in high school. They'd say it either was for kids or was "gay." The stuck up girls would think it was for dorks. And these are the people that I assume make up the mainstream and are generally okay with Tolkien-like content in media, though they wouldn't read books.
30-08-2011, 09:47 PM #17
I find it harder to suspend my disbelief with standard fantasy. The fact that all these worlds are supposedly unqiue and different but have all the same tropes is just so jarring to me. But that's just me. I suspect the main reasons there aren't many unique fantasy settings is firstly that people know that 'tolkeinesque' is popular, and secondly the developers have enjoyed playing fantasy games and just want to make more of what they love, rather than innovate (the setting).
30-08-2011, 10:13 PM #18
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Although to add to the original list, Rise of the Argonauts (Greek mythology), Garshasp (Persian mythology), Titan Quest (Greek, again), Sacred 2 (Elves, no dwarves, clockwork robots), Hard to be a God (similar to a Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - you're a modern guy transported back to the Middle Ages), the Konung Series (historical fantasy) & The Chosen - Well of Souls (Gothic Victoriana).
31-08-2011, 12:06 AM #19
I definitely want to play some more urban fantasy outside of Bloodlines, and the upcoming Secret World. The first WoD Vampire game was 1/2 set in modern times and was okay.
31-08-2011, 11:45 AM #20
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After playing through Dragon Age 1, the world of The Witcher has been a refreshing take on fantasy for me. The monsters aren't stereotypical ones, at least in aesthetics and it feels closer to a historical-fantasy setting than anything else I've encountered. I got a strong Highlander vibe from Kaer Morhen and the Witchers when I first loaded up Witcher 1.
The only thing it could do without is the Dwarves really. I don't mean that in a genocide kind of way but that they're the most stereotypical and unimaginative.