The sword and sandal genre—that of ancient warriors wielding swords and spears—has struggled somewhat on major consoles. Ryse: Son Of Rome was a good but not great early effort on the Xbox One, and none of the popular films in the genre—Troy, 300, Gladiator, etc.—has produced a memorable title. Games like those in the God Of War franchise and even various Lord Of The Rings titles have been successful, but they only border on the theme of sword and sandal.
Perhaps the reason for this is that games in this genre can thrive on simplicity. A well-designed ancient world environment; familiar Greek, Roman, or similar armor and weaponry; and the ability to hack and slash at opponents are pretty much all you need. When console developers spice things up too much, the games can become overdone. On the contrary, these online sword and sandal games have gotten it right through simpler yet enjoyable approaches.
300: Seize Your Glory
While 300 was something of an action classic, absurd in every way but also pioneering a bold new way to depict cinematic action, the sequel 300: Rise Of An Empire was a travesty. Nevertheless, this game based on the sequel is surprisingly fun for a chaotic, online, 3D-hacking experience. It’s featured at AGame.com’s collection of arcade games and offers a fairly impressive combination of bloody action and 3D graphics. Frankly, it’s better than the film in terms of entertainment value.
This is another sword-and-sandals game online that’s directly based on a popular film from the genre. Although it’s not as much of an action experience, this selection from Galacasino.com’s games lineup features enough original sound and imagery from the film Gladiator to rank among the most significant sword-and-sandals experiences on any console or system. There’s not much in the way of hack-and-slash business to attend to, but its Roman gladiator theme is rather immersive for what’s basically a slot machine.
Sword & Sandals: Gladiator
Well, you have to give them credit for the straightforward name if nothing else! This is another title featured at AGame.com, and is in some ways both the best and worst experience in the genre online. The positives are that there’s a lot of fun customization that goes into this game. You can design your gladiator (down to a character with blue skin and a purple afro, if you like), choose your weapons and armor (with upgrades as you improve), and enter the arena. The combat itself is rather dreadful, but there are enough other things going on to keep you playing and improving until you build a mighty arena warrior.
This is my pick for the best sword-and-sandals online gaming experience. It’s not exactly clear if it’s tied to Troy (the film) specifically, though the “Achilles!” call at the beginning of the game is unmistakably the same one Brian Cox let loose as Agamemnon in the film. Regardless, this side-scrolling, hack-and-slash fighter is delightful entertainment. Crude graphics aside, it’s a sophisticated combat experience in which your decision to leap, jab, slash, etc. actually matters. Boss fights are difficult, and it will actually take some time and effort to beat this game. It’s available at ArmorGames.com.
Sword & Sandals II: Emperor’s Reign
Kongregate.com hosts the sequel to the aforementioned Sword & Sandals game, and really it’s the same experience with a broader story. The combat is still lacking, but an episodic approach to the story adds a new dynamic and makes this a fun twist on the original gladiator experience.
There’s simplicity to each of these games that can be somewhat damning in the age of current generation consoles, but for pure sword-swinging joy, they each have their strong points. If you’re a sword-and-sandals lover, you’d do well to check them all out.
This concludes my list on five fun sword and sandal games that are currently on the market. Are any of you considering checking them out? Please feel free to let me know in the comments section below.