Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Before vanishing up its own Halo for the best part of a decade, Bungie tried its hand at real-time strategy. The first two games in the Myth [official site] series are splendid creations, with an almost unmatched atmosphere of war-weary exhaustion and dread. There are also superb dwarves armed with explosives that send body parts bouncing across the terrain.
Myth is a linear experience and the strategy required for each map can sometimes feel too much like a script to follow, but the setting is delightfully dreary. Your troops always seem to be on the verge of defeat and the narration between each battle is as grimly evocative as Darkest Dungeon’s excellent voiceover. It’s rare for a strategy game to capture the plight of the footsoldier effectively but Myth is convincing. It portrays a world on the brink of destruction and it does so, on the whole, by putting the player at the frontline of desperate skirmishes rather than gesturing toward enormous armies clashing and grand spectacle.
I’m surprised I didn’t draw a comparison when I was playing The Banner Saga last year. Like Stoic’s game, Myth concentrates its focus on a determined people striving to survive a trek across a land that is not only hostile but that seems to be coming to its end.
On a personal note, it’s also the first game that made me realise that enjoyably meaty physics have a place outside first-person shooters.
Edit: the best way to experience modern Myth appears to be Project Magma, which includes all manner of resources, including a way to run the first two games (and that’s as far as I’d recommend anyone goes) in a single enhanced engine. You’ll need the original core files to make use of Project Magma plugins and mods. Thanks @dominictarason.