Ancient Egypt: Gaming’s Neglected Setting

Ancient Egypt is one of the most fascinating times in human culture. It is one of mystery, in which we strive to learn more about. It has given us iconic images in the forms of the pyramids and the sphinx, pharaohs, grand palaces, mummies and more. Things both real and imaginary have captured our fascination and imagination of this world for thousands of years. People can recognise names like Cleopatra, Ramses and Tutankhamun, as well as fictional with the likes of the Egyptian gods Anubis, Osiris, Thoth and Ra. It is a time with a distinct look, with gold, hieroglyphs, boats on the Nile, the sun setting over Giza, ancient burial chambers, treasure and more being what we think of when we think of Ancient Egypt.

It is a setting that has become popular with fiction. Over time we’ve seen many films use Ancient Egypt or it mythology and imagery in their works. The 1963 film Cleopatra is one of the biggest releases ever on the silver screen, with an all star cats of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison and Martin Landau, lavish sets, extravagant costumes and more, with it being the most expensive film ever at the time. We’ve seen other films use this, such as Hammer Horror movie The Mummy, comedy of Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy, adaptation of the story of Moses and Joseph, Gods of Egypt, modern versions of The Mummy, The Scorpion King, X-Men: Apocalypse and more. Each have taken different aspects and used them in their own way to create their form of entertainment.

While common in film, Ancient Egyptian settings and iconography is more rare in video games. You may see them as a theme in platformer game such as Crash Bandicoot, Double Dragon and Mario games, but nothing substantial. There are Egyptian themed characters such as Anakaris from Darkstalkers, Eliza from Skullgirls, Manet from Street Fighter, the Pokémon Yamask and Cofagrigus, Pharaoh Man from Mega Man 4 and Amumu, The Sad Mummy from League of Legends. Various Gods have appeared in some games and mummies are often recurring enemies. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is one of the few games truly set and is about Ancient Egypt, with many online slot machine games, such as Cleopatra Mega Jackpot also the theme.

This will all change though in 2017 as the next instalment of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is released. Assassin’s Creed Origins is the latest action-adventure stealth title from Ubisoft set in the world of the Assassins and Templars, but is taking a much different approach. Set during the Ptolemaic period (about 305 B.C to 30 B.C), it puts it as the earliest point in the game series’ history. The game retains the open world of it’s predecessors but brings many gameplay changes. New feature include taming wild animals and seeing through the eyes of a hawk for a birds eye views. Being able to traverse the Egyptian sands and pyramids should create an forgettable experience and hopefully encourage other devs to use an Ancient Egypt setting in their games.

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