Five of the best Nordic video games right now!

12.02.2018

Eve Online

The Nordics have for long been known to pioneer many cultural scenes – but our success in the creation of video- and computer games have only begun to be noticed. This despite Danish IO Interactive’s groundbreaking Hitman series, which was launched in 2000. Or the world-renowned Battlefield games, developed by DICE in Sweden for the past 15 years. But as the world starts to pay more and more attention to video- and computer games, the Nordic accomplishments within this field are acknowledged.

Here are five of my favorite Nordic games right now!

Eve Online (IS)

The Icelandic space epic Eve Online feels like it’s always been around. Since its launch in 2003, the game has been updated with over 40 add-on packages – which one might compare to a television series with 40 seasons. The game is a so-called “Massively multiplayer online role-playing game”, which is a genre best known for World of Warcraft.

The difference between these two titles is primarily the world they are set in – but also what opportunities the players are given to influence their surroundings. The really big player-groups of Eve form great alliances in order to wage war against others or to create an economic shift, effectively reshaping the entire in-game market.

I have merely spent a few hours exploring the vast universe of Eve, which is nothing compared to the time dedicated to it by others. But it’s a game that I always enjoy reading about – like when a mega-ship, after months of construction of an alliance, gets stolen by a rival through some intricate heist.

Available on Microsoft Windows, macOS.

Cities: Skylines (FI)

Colossal Order from Tampere, Finland, are the studio behind this “city builder” game, which is exactly what it sounds like. From a bird’s eye view, the player constructs houses, industrial areas, bus routes and ensures that the city has enough water and electricity – and much, much more.

This genre is most strongly associated with the SimCity series, but its latest sequel was not well-received by critics. However, the failure of this sequel is what gave Colossal Order the courage to give the genre a whirl, resulting in Cities: Skylines. The game was a commercial success and I’ll happily admit to having spent countless hours optimizing subways, planting trees, and trying to keep my citizens happy.

Available on Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Cities: Skylines
Cities: Skylines
Owlboy (NO)

Owlboy, developed for a whopping nine years by a small independent studio in the city of Bergen in Norway, is a story-driven platform game in 2D (think Super Mario). The player controls Otus, who has the power of flight. It is with this power, as well as those provided to him by the game’s many side-characters that help him survive.

Owlboy, which been on my must-play-list for some time, first caught my attention with its retro-aesthetics which the developers themselves call “Hi-Bit”. It’s reminiscent of games from the 90’s Super Nintendo era with its 8 and 16-bit graphics, but with the ability to display many (many!) more pixels. It’s hard to describe, but the image below might give an idea of what it all looks like.

Available on Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Owlboy
Owlboy
Inside (DK)

Inside perfectly encapsulates the visual storytelling principle of “Show, do not tell”. The story of the game is solely conveyed through the player’s actions and by traversing the dystopian world that Inside takes place in. The game is not only understated in terms of storytelling, but with regards to gameplay, as the player is never given any instructions on how to play the game. Of course, Danish developers Playdead have filled the world of Inside with smart visual cues on how to solve the game’s many puzzles, but you can get through the game without reading a single line of text.

The game is quite short. I got through it in about three hours, but it was time well spent.

Available on Microsoft Windows, iOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Inside
Inside
Clustertruck (SV)

Writing as a veteran of video- and computer games, I have played many games. Hundreds of them. That’s why I hardly ever boot up a new game and somehow do not immediately recognize the concept and know pretty much what to expect. Maybe that’s the reason why I fell in love with the wild and utterly unique Clustertruck by Landfall Games from Sweden.

The idea is simple. Fifty or so uncontrollable lorries drive head-on through a minefield of obstacles which crash and flip the vehicles. As the player, you must jump from truck roof to truck roof in order to reach the finish line without falling to the ground. The courses vary in theme and constantly introduce new types of traps for you and the lorries to fall into. Your reflexes are constantly tested – and believe me – you will fail over and over. But the rush of getting through a level in Clustertruck is unbeatable.

Available on Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Clustertruck
Clustertruck

TEXT: Alexander Brenner, Communications Advisor at the Nordic Culture Point.