Look At All The Shakespeare Videogames

AI-generated Shakespeare trying to play a standup arcade video game

For as long as I’ve been into Shakespeare, I’ve wondered about games based on Shakespeare. I own a lot of Shakespeare games, from Bards Against Humanity to Shakespeare Trivial Pursuit. But video games? That’s a different story. It takes a lot of effort to make a video game. You’ve got to decide the style – arcade, RPG, adventure? The platform – PC, console, mobile? And, of course, the game and the plot. How do you translate a Shakespeare play to an enjoyable video game?

Over the years, I’ve written about and played a few. There was supposed to be one of those massive multiplayer worlds called Arden, which would have been amazing, but it was doomed from the start. That was a shame. I just kind of lost the thread over time.


So Many Games

Like a list of movie adaptations, I clicked on this article, assuming that I knew everything it was going to tell me. Nope! I’ve played some of these, but most were new. I also know of a few that didn’t make the list, that I’ll talk about at the end. Let’s go through this, shall we?

  • Something Wicked: A side-scroller based on the battle scenes in Macbeth? Never heard of it, never played it, but sounds like fun.
  • Life Is Strange: Before The Storm: A sequel to Life Is Strange, whatever that is. But it’s based on The Tempest, which has always been a favorite of mine for story fodder, so I’d happily play it if it fell in my lap.
  • Lion King obviously shouldn’t have made the list.
  • Romeo Wherefore Art Thou looked cute — a platformer where you play Romeo trying to find Juliet, I guess? The link included in the article doesn’t work, but fear not, I found one that does! It’s actually difficult, I haven’t made it past level 2 yet.
  • Hamlet Or The Last Game Without MMORPG Features, Shaders, And Product Placement I did get to play this one a little but, but it’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t have remembered if I didn’t see the screenshots.
  • Final Fantasy 15 somebody will have to tell me, is there enough Hamlet in this to deserve placement on the list? I’m looking for games that are clearly Shakespeare games, not games Lion King. Then again I gave the benefit of the doubt to Life is Strange so you never know.
  • Haven looks awesome, has anybody played it? A space story with Romeo and Juliet on the run? That sounds like it has potential.
  • To Be Or Not To Be the interactive novel is exactly that. If you’ve read the choose-your-own-adventure book you know how this one is going to go. I’ve read the book, haven’t played the game.
  • A Midsummer Night’s Choice is another interactive text adventure, playable for free here: https://www.choiceofgames.com/midsummer-nights-choice/ It’s also available as a mobile app.
  • Elsinore I feel like I played this one, and I feel like I would have enjoyed it. I love the idea of a time-loop story where Ophelia is trying to save herself and everyone she loves, but keeps failing over and over again.

Don’t Forget These

Recently I worked a little bit with a Redditor who put a game out for Oculus Quest called Bard Sabre. In this one the words of Shakespeare’s famous monologues come hurling at you like objects and you have to knock them down in order, while avoiding the bad guys. The idea is that you’re memorizing the speech while you do it. I thought it had potential, and hope he continues.

‘Speare unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore. Hey, it was 2006, and I have been doing this a long long time. This one was a good old fashioned space shooter in the traditional arcade style. Didn’t really have much by way of direct connection to Shakespeare, but in a world where Shakespeare video games were few and far between I’d take what I could get.

Write ‘n Fight is a Mortal Kombat 2d fighter, where the players are all classic authors — including Shakespeare. Want to see whether Shakespeare could take Hemingway in a bare-knuckle brawl? Now you can!

Does anybody know any that we missed? There are a number of lists like this one that focus on the many, many RPG-style console games that retell elements of Shakespeare stories (avenge your father, be with your star-crossed love, etc …), but I can’t speak at all to how much actual Shakespeare is in any of them.

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