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Best Sword And Sorcery Games

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Highlights

  • Sword and sorcery genre has evolved from early games, showcasing violent missions and quests with sword-wielding heroes.
  • Franchises like Conan the Barbarian depict the true essence of the fantasy world in sword-and-sorcery games.
  • Despite challenges, classic games like Barbarian and newer entries like Conan Exiles provide an immersive sword-and-sorcery experience.

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The sword and sorcery genre has come a long way from some of the early video and board games that defined the genre. Typically, though, fans have trouble naming something as definitively a part of the sub-genre, which generally focuses on sword-wielding heroes taking part in missions and quests which are incredibly violent.

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Though the sword-and-sorcery genre feels at times like it represents the more general categorization of fantasy worlds themselves, there is a more tilted view that looks to franchises like Conan the Barbarian as the best representations of the exact type of fantasy world that sword-and-sorcery games take place within.

Updated on March 6th, 2024, by Chris Harkin: The sword and sorcery genre isn’t one that is at the forefront of gaming nowadays. The difficulties the genre has had in staying relevant have been helped by some fantastic games, but in general, high fantasy and other sub-genres have taken the lead over this style. Despite that, there are still some great sword and sorcery games to be celebrated, from newer entries attempting to revive the style to some older games that deserve to be immortalized for their contributions and uniquely fun gameplay, and are often forgotten about far more than they deserve. To bring more attention to this genre, more games have been added to this list.

8 Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior

Metacritic Score: N/A

Barbarian The Ultimate Warrior

  • Platforms:
    Acorn Electron, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Java ME, ZX Spectrum
  • Release Year:
    1987
  • Developers:
    Palace Software

Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior was released in 1987 and is one of the best classic examples of the sword and sorcery style in video gaming. A straight-up fighting game with fascinating lore, it allowed players to select their fighter from a variety of buff, sword-wielding warriors. They would fight to the death in unnecessarily bloody combat for the approval of a bikini-clad Princess.

Barbarian prompted fans of the Conan franchise to find their inner primal warrior as they attempted to beat their enemy. It certainly wasn’t the most advanced fighting game ever, but for its time, this was a nicely put-together arcade-style adventure that was memorably fun for Conan fans.

7 Might And Magic 3: Isles Of Terra

Metacritic Score: N/A

Might and Magic III

  • Platforms:
    TurboGrafx-CD, FM Towns, SNES, Sega Genesis, DOS, Amiga, MS-DOS, Windows PC
  • Release Year:
    1991
  • Developers:
    New World Computing

The Might and Magic franchise is exactly the kind of thing that Sword and Sorcery fans will love and appreciate. This RPG franchise was set in a different world where a group of adventurers from the human world must travel through a series of isles in their attempts to stop a great sorcerer from destroying the world.

The Might and Magic franchise was a great franchise that created some legendary games, with Might and Magic III being one of the very best. It is frequently listed among the best RPGs of all time, having helped to inspire many of the similar games that are so beloved today.

6 Swords And Sorcery

Metacritic Score: N/A

Swords and Sorcery

  • Platforms:
    ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC
  • Release Year:
    1985
  • Developers:
    Personal Software Services

The original game that helped inspire other video games to pick up the mantle of sword and sorcery, Swords and Sorcery was released in 1985 and provided one of the earliest RPG experiences in a video game. The player character has to explore a series of catacombs and collect a variety of treasures.

This game is memorable for a lot of reasons. The default name for the player character was bizarrely Flubbit the Dull, and the tutorial section took place over the course of 14 whole days as the player was taught about a large variety of skills they could use to help them navigate the catacombs and find all the treasure and armor pieces they were after. Memorable for the sub-genre and for having so much flair and comedic presence in such an early video game, Swords and Sorcery is worth revisiting.

5 Conan Exiles

Metacritic Score: 68/100

conan exiles xbox game pass reveal

Being one of the franchises best known for the mantle of “sword and sorcery” it is unsurprising that the tricky survival game built within the world of Conan the Barbarian is one of fans’ favorite ways to get the full sword and sorcery experience in a video game right now. Able to be played in single and multiplayer, Conan Exiles has continually been added to with extra expansions, allowing players more freedom.

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Conan Exiles pits the player against the harsh landscapes and enemies of the Hyborian Age. Players begin as an exile who has been crucified, who is saved by Conan himself, before being left to build their own future and try to survive the harshness of such a world. While Conan Exiles has been praised, the level of success it has achieved hasn’t helped solidify it as one of the better survival games in recent years. But if players like the idea of a harsh sword and sorcery world, Exiles is the perfect experience for them.

4 Golden Axe

Metacritic Score: 68/100

Golden Axe

  • Platforms:
    Nintendo Switch, Sega Genesis, Sega Mark III, Microsoft Windows, Game Gear, Sega CD, Amiga, Commodore 64
  • Release Year:
    1989
  • Developers:
    Sega

The entire Golden Axe franchise are great options for players looking to get their sword and sorcery on. These games are a series of side-scrolling hack-and-slash efforts that began with an eponymous game in 1989. Keeping the style simple, players pick from one of three warriors who they must control and bring the tyrannical Death Adder to his knees.

From the beginning, the Golden Axe series was built in a high fantasy world that was distinctly Conan-like in nature. This makes it unsurprising that the style is so completely in line with what a Conan game would have looked like in a similar format. There haven’t been as many efforts in the franchise as of late, though there may be other ways to experience Golden Axe today, but there are over seven entries in the franchise for anybody to check out who has a love for sword-and-sorcery and some old-school gaming.

3 Age Of Conan: Unchained

Metacritic Score: 80/100

Best Sword And Sorcery Games

  • Platforms:
    Microsoft Windows
  • Release Year:
    2008
  • Developers:
    Funcom

While Conan Exiles has made a recent splash in terms of Conan the Barbarian-themed games, there was an MMO from about a decade earlier that provided the template for further games focused on the Hyborian Age. Taking place one year after the Conan book The Hour of the Dragon, Age of Conan depicts the world now under the control of Conan, who has become King, and is a grizzled veteran warrior.

The game allows players to explore a fascinating fantasy world, full and bustling with other players engaging in a massively-multiplayer experience. This is a rare example of a sword and sorcery world feeling truly as alive as players could dream of, including combat that is far less automated and more engaging than most MMO combat systems.

2 Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Metacritic Score: 86/100

Superbrothers

  • Platforms:
    iOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, Nintendo Switch
  • Release Year:
    2011
  • Developers:
    Capybara Games, Superbrothers

A fascinating game that was originally developed as a mobile game but was later released for other platforms, Superbrothers is an adventure game set in a strange and hilarious world, where players control a Scythian Warrior as they are guided through a series of “sessions” by The Archetype.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a fantastically strange blending of music, wondrous art, and exciting gameplay that gives players a truly different kind of gaming experience. Considered deeply poetic, and with some wildly amusing writing, Superbrothers is an experience every gamer should have.

1 Skyrim

Metacritic Score: 96/100

skyrim cover

Skyrim

Released
November 11, 2011

It is perhaps too bold to say that Skyrim is an outright “sword-and-sorcery” game with the definition of that category being so narrow. However, the fantastical world of the entire Elder Scrolls franchise is very much in line with much of what makes fans love the sword and sorcery style. With the combat having been made easier from previous Elder Scrolls entries, Skyrim isn’t far off a hack-and-slash against most enemies as well.

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This helps give the game much more of a Conan feel. It would be more accurate to say that Skyrim can be played as a sword-and-sorcery game, with all the possibilities available, players can simply choose to only use a few of the weapon types. This would bring much of the game and as many side and faction quests as they seek out into line with the sword and sorcery style.

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