Gaming is just littered with Gothic references from the amazing pieces of Gothic architecture that litter games like Darksiders to the art style of Castlevania to the Nine Inch Nails inspired music from Destiny’s Hive quests.
You can’t escape it. But, there are some games that embrace the dark heart of all thing Gothic and bring them to life with flashing pixels. Here are just a few examples of them.
5. Devil May Cry
It’s hard not to include any Devil May Cry games in this list. Shinji Mikami spent a while at Capcom and during his tenure there he created solid gold classics like the Resident Evil series and the Devil May Cry series. Dante’s constant battles with the forces of Heaven and Hell are ornately and elegantly Gothic everywhere you look.
His battles take him through some of the most ornately designed Gothic architecture ever seen in games especially in the fourth game in the series – the first to appear on Xbox 360.
The first three games are where it’s at though with a combat system that focuses on finesse and combos over relentless button bashing. The first three Devil May Cry games are an ode to all things Gothic wrapped up with some of the most elegant action gameplay ever designed.
Dark overbearing environments? Check. Freakish monsters that would scare the pants off H.P. Lovecraft? Check. Soundtrack by the Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor? Check.
Quake was the first first-person shooter to be rendered in true 3D and id Software took full advantage of the new technology building a game that is oppressive and deeply atmospheric. Besides what’s more Goth than using nine inch nails as ammunition to slaughter endless waves of hellish demonic creatures?
3. Darksiders II
Playing Darksiders II is like playing a Legend of Zelda game that grew up listening to nothing but Type-O Negative. You play as Death, skull-faced and all dressed in black and purple armour, as he attempts to resurrect the Earth and save his brother War from eternal damnation.
Its art style is very comic-book Gothic having been created by comic writer and artist Joe Madureira. Crumbling Gothic architecture combined with a story that smacks of futility with Death travelling across the dimensions to forgotten places in search of a way to prove that his brother War was not the one who triggered the Apocalypse condemning Earth to becoming a demonic realm make for an entertaining - if mildly depressing - experience.
2. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
We could literally shove any of the numerous Castlevania titles that have appeared since 1986 but Lords of Shadow makes the list for two very good reasons.
The first is that it is an excellent 3D reboot of the series which had been up to this point (2010) a 2D platform exploration game. It follows the cursed Belmont clan as they head towards a future of vampirism and everlasting torment and combines the classic blend of platforming and action the series was known for with a wider and more detailed 3D view of the action courtesy of the power of the PS3 and Xbox 360. It was beautiful and exceptionally dark and is one of the finest Gothic games created in recent years.
The second reason for including this game is that it is narrated by the ever-awesome Sir Patrick Stewart and the lead character Gabriel Belmont is voiced by Robert Carlyle whose performances add to the dark and foreboding atmosphere that makes the game so compelling.
From Software do relentlessly miserable extremely well. They have raised it to an artform having homed their skills on the ‘Souls’ series of games. Bloodborne follows on in the spirit of the Souls games by being fiendishly hard and irrepressable dark and overbearing. This time though it is set in a grim Gothic, Victorian-style city of Yharnam which is striken by a disease turning its inhabitants into unspeakable beasts. You assume the role of the Hunter and are tasked with hunting done the Pure Blood in order to cure Yharnam and wake it up from its horrific nightmare.
If possible it’s even darker and even more oppressive than the Dark Souls games helped by the fact that the game takes place exclusively at night. Moonlight and torchlight are your only friend as you shoot and slash your way through a succession of ever-more brutal enemies. It’s deeply atmospheric and hideously punishing making the game instantly appealing to the more masochistic of gamers.
That’s our countdown of what we believe to be the finest Gothic games of all time. You can debate the ins and outs of the list and give us suggestions that we may have overlooked in the comments section below.