In a large part, games are a power fantasy. We’re there to slay giant monsters, confront world-shaping threats and make them retreat. We are the solution to any immediate problem the world throws at us. The thing is, usually we are just some more or less prophesized hero, grizzled soldier, or even just a random person who accidentally ends up having to step up.

However, typically we don’t get to play an actual divine being in charge of an aspect of reality, a few steps above even the mightiest mortal heroes. Nor do we often get to play a demiurge, an absolute ruler of the cosmos, whose commands reshape the world and guide civilizations.

But sometimes we are all these things. Sometimes we take control of a being whose purpose and power is beyond any GI Joe, any upstart hero from a backwater village at the edge of nowhere.And we are here to take a look at a few instances where that was true.

God games
GameReleaseGenreDeveloperSale
Darksiders 2010-09-23 Adventure Vigil Games 86% Read more
Dungeon Keeper 1997-06-26 Dungeon Simulation Bullfrog Productions 41% Read more
Dungeon Keeper 2 1999-06-28 Dungeon Management Bullfrog Productions 35% Read more
God Of War 2022-01-14 Action Santa Monica Studio 44% Read more
Hades 2019-12-10 Indie Supergiant Games Read more
Massive Chalice 2015-06-01 Indie Double Fine Productions 94% Read more
Okami Hd 2017-12-12 Adventure Clover Studio, HexaDrive 47% Read more
Sid Meier's Civilization V: Complete Edition 2010-09-23 Economy Aspyr (Mac, Linux) 77% Read more
Sid Meiers Civilization VI 2016-10-20 Economy Firaxis Games 93% Read more
Spore 2008-12-19 Strategy Maxis™ Read more
The Darkness II 2012-02-09 Action & Shooter Digital Extremes 89% Read more
The Sims Medieval 2011-03-22 Simulation Maxis Redwood Shores Read more
Universe Sandbox 2015-08-24 Indie Giant Army 44% Read more
War For The Overworld 2015-04-02 Indie Brightrock Games 87% Read more

To make this article about games about gods more immediately useful, we split into two parts.

  • In the first section we consider “god games“: titles which are often strategies concerned with the big picture.
  • In the second section we take a look at action games which put you in the body of someone wielding divine power.

God simulators

This subset of games gives you, the player, the role of an overseer and guide. Whether you’re a literal deity or not, you get to decide the course of nations, rearrange the natural order, or even be an all-powerful god of creation, able to make your own world, to some extent. In either of these cases, however, you’re not usually in control of a discrete, unique creature. You’re more of a presence, a figure, than a character.

        

The Sims (esp. Medieval)

Release:2011-05-09
Genre:Simulation
Developer:Electronic Arts

The Sims series is pretty much an archetype of a game about playing god with the lives of tiny silly people falsely convinced of their own free will.

You can put them through all kinds of hardships or lucky breaks purely on a whim, or just watch them trying to make the best of whatever situation you put them in. This godlike quality is especially visible in the 2011 spin-off The Sims Medieval.

In Medieval your role is explicitly to be „The Watcher”, a deity worshipped by both religions of the game: Jacobans and Peterans. You mission is to lead your Medieval Sims to a specific “Kingdom Ambition”. Whether you pick classic The Sims or the spin-off, your little people’s lives are yours to command and use for personal and potentially sadistic enjoyment.

Key features
  • You can create your own Sims thanks to a deep Create-a-Sim system, esp. in The Sims 4
  • In The Sims Medieval you are literally a deity of the setting
  • Your Sims have aspirations and personalities which define their behavior
  • A series of excellent, and often very amusing, sandbox games
        

Black & White

Release:2001-03-30
Genre:Simulation
Developer:ionhead Studios, Feral Interactive

In Black & White you play a hand of god, which lets you directly interact with the world.

You could grab trees and drop them at a sawmill, or dump some grain into a struggling village’s granary. You could also cast miracles by drawing a proper shape on the ground. Your actions defined whether you were worshipped out of fear, or out of love and adoration, if you’re one for helping the little, insignificant, genuflecting people. Either way, the appearance of your temple would change to reflect your nature.

Black & White

You also had your Creature: a massive, intelligent beast which could learn from you how to cast smaller miracles, or to help/terrorize your worshippers. If you found the Creature throwing villagers into the sea funny, you could praise or scold it, reinforcing or discouraging that behaviour. Black & White is probably the most literal god game out there, with amazing reactivity and immersion. The sequel was a really good game too, although it lacked some organic solutions crucial to the original’s atmosphere.

Key features
  • You’re playing as a divine hand
  • You’re powered by the worship and/or fear of villagers in your range of influence
  • Gesture-activated miracles
  • You get a magnificent, AI controlled animalistic Creature you can teach new tricks
        

Dungeon Keeper OR War for the Overworld

Release:1997-06-26 / 2015-04-02
Genre:Dungeon Management
Developer:Bullfrog Productions / Brightrock Games

We lumped the two games together, because they are doing the same thing, and they are quite good at it.

War for the Overworld is a loving tribute to the classic Dungeon Keeper, and thus worthy of being mentioned. The idea is simple: you’re an omnipresent ruler of the underworld who builds their own deadly dungeon filled with traps and monsters.

Dungeon Keeper <b>OR</b> War for the Overworld

Your iron-gauntleted hand designates chambers to be built, relocates monsters under your service and floats menacingly to motivate your underlings to work faster. Eventually, pesky do-gooders come to try and thwart you, and the results depend on the strength of your defenses and how well you’ve addressed the needs of your subjects. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like Lord Satan himself, that’s the way to go about it.

Key features
  • Expand your dungeons and give your minions something to do
  • Deal with pesky adventurers
  • Great sense of humor
  • DK is an all-time classic, and WftO is a modern loving tribute to it
        

Spore

Release:2008-12-19
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Maxis™

Spore’s premise is all about taking control of evolution from primitive organisms in the primordial soup to a space-faring civilization.

Along the way, the player has an incredible degree of freedom in designing each stage of their beast’s appearance and behavior. Virtually any feature of the creature can be customized: the number, shape, and type of limbs, sensory organs, body shape, preferred food, natural weapons, etc.

Spore

You can take direct control over the organisms and direct them to find food or mate, or attack other beings,which is where your creative decisions truly affect things.The game is definitely humorous in nature, with exaggerated appearance and behaviors, and it has an aesthetic closer to cartoonish than realistic. However, if you want to feel like a demiurge in full control of species’ form, no matter how nonsensically constructed, that simulator is for you.

Key features
  • Take a creature from a single-cellular organism to a galaxy-spanning civilization
  • Cartoonish graphics
  • Detailed creature creation
  • You can unlock new traits and elements as you play and interact with other creatures
        

Universe Sandbox 2

Release:2015-08-24
Genre:Indie
Developer:Giant Army

Taking charge of the fate (and faith) of a nation or running  a dungeon full of monsters are all very fun.

Creating your own species it great. But no other game gives you control over an entire galaxy. Universe Sandbox places you in charge of moving the celestial objects, setting them on new orbits, or smashing them together to see what happens.

Universe Sandbox 2

You can push planets close together and see how the gravity affects both of them, or change the angle of the Earth’s axis to see how it would affect the climate. It also has a VR mode with motion controls, letting you exist in the three-dimensional space, creating planets and throwing comets at them. You don’t get any worshippers in this game, but nothing allows you to tinker with the construction of cosmos quite like Universe Sandbox 2.

Key features
  • Half-god game, half-astrophysics simulator
  • You can create planetary systems and destroy them on a whim
  • Looks great
  • Especially godlike when you play in VR
        

Civilization

Release:2016-10-20
Genre:Economy
Developer:Firaxis Games

You could say that Civilization games don’t feature deities, only religions (highly customizable, too).

But the Leaders can certainly be construed as deities: immortal beings unbound by time, present from the very first stage of a given culture’s development and guiding its course. Each leader has some unique quirk they impart on their nation, and whether it’s Gandhi, Cleopatra, or Theodore Roosevelt they are the leading figures from distant antiquity to the space age

Civilization

On the gameplay side of things, Civilization is a game about leading a chosen culture and letting it expand across a tiled, randomly generated map of a world. Each culture has a unique specialty, making them predisposed to a specific style of play: diplomatic, warlike, etc. Civilization is like a very complex turn-based board game, regardless of the installment, which also means it’s great for multiplayer!

Key features
  • The classic series of turn-based 4X games
  • Become an immortal, anachronistic leader of a civilization
  • Real civilizations in procedurally generated world
  • Powerful „just one more turn” syndrome
        

Dwarf Fortress

Release:2006-08-08
Genre:Construction and management simulation
Developer:Bay 12 Games

Dwarf Fortress doesn’t look like much, but in fact, it is possibly one of the most complex games out there, and it could only work in a text-based, or otherwise simplified form, otherwise, your system would collapse under the weight of it.

Before you even start playing Dwarf Fortress you’re asked to generate the world, which doesn’t just create a map, but also geological layers, the entire history, and a myriad other features. It probably won’t take seven days to generate, but you’re already in control of a world.

Dwarf Fortress Steam Version

Your other duties involve helping your dwarves build the eponymous fortress and make it thrive. The game has outstanding potential for letting you play like the most vengeful god you could imagine. The game’s modding is based entirely on .txt files, so it takes seconds to change the body temperature of a creature to a level that will make it immediately explode. Dwarf Fortress is good fun, but it’s also incredibly hard to get into. Probably just like the whole “omnipotent god” business.

Dwarf Fortress is a free game, and Steam version coming soon.

Key features
  • Possibly one of the most complex games of all time
  • Endless emergent storytelling moments
  • Lead a colony of silly dwarves to greatness
  • The full title is “Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress”, and you might be Arnok
        

MASSIVE CHALICE

Release:2015-06-01
Genre:Indie
Developer:Double Fine Productions

Massive Chalice is a fascinating game.

It blends XCOM-like turn-based tactical battles, shades of 4X expansion across the map, and Crusader Kings’ messing with bloodlines. A part of your role as an immortal ruler is to arrange marriages between noble houses, because they need to keep new generations of soldiers coming while the eponymous chalice gathers magical energy to defeat the invading Cadence.

MASSIVE CHALICE

The big concept of MC is that there are three basic classes, and children inherit them from parents. If parents are of different classes, say Camberjack and Alchemist, the children will have a hybrid class. They also get to inherit their parents’ physical and mental stats and acquire some of their personality traits. Massive Chalice is a game of long-term planning only an immortal ruler could be capable of.

In the games presented below, you take control over a singular deity during their adventures in the world. You won’t influence entire nations and cultures, but you can interact with the world directly, and there’s no denying your physical and mystical might.

Key features
  • You’re an immortal ruler, and you must defend your state for 300 years
  • Manage noble houses and arrange marriages to prepare your armies
  • Turn-based tactical combat
  • A clear goal

God protagonist

In the games presented below, you take control over a singular deity during their adventures in the world. You won’t influence entire nations and cultures, but you can interact with the world directly, and there’s no denying your physical and mystical might.

        

Hades

Release:2019-12-10
Genre:Indie
Developer:Supergiant Games

In Hades we get to play as Zagreus, the son of the titular lord of the Underworld.

Zag tries to escape his father’s domain in order to seek answers Hades isn’t willing to give him, but nobody escape the land of the dead without a fight, not even the prince. Thankfully your Olympian family is happy to help, providing you with mighty divine boons substantially changing your abilities.

Hades

Zagreus is a powerful fighter and while he might fall in battle, he won’t die from it, simply reforming back at home. The weapons he uses are legendary in the own right, having been used by Olympian gods in the old days. For extra divine content: you regularly interact with other gods from Greek myths, including Zeus, Artemis, and Dionysus. If you love Greek myths, check Hades out.

Key features
  • You play as Zagreus, son of Hades, the prince of underworld
  • An excellent roguelite about escaping the land of the dead and solving family issues
  • Fast, spectacular action powered by divine gifts from your family
  • Looks incredible thanks to a gorgeous art style
        

God of War

Release:2022-01-14
Genre:Action
Developer:Santa Monica Studio

Kratos, the God of War series’ protagonist, is an offspring of Zeus, Greek mythology’s main instigator.

As a result, he already starts out as a demigod (someone on the same level as Heracles, for example), but over the course of the series he becomes a fully-fledged deity with a singular focus on war understood mostly as general slaughter. Eventually, he becomes the only remnant of Olympian shenanigans.

God of War

On the whole God of War games are action-adventure/hack’n’slash games in which Kratos carves a bloody path through enemies drawn from and inspired by mythology (Greek in the original games, Norse in the 2018 soft reboot), with breaks for an occasional environmental puzzle. The most recent release shifted the camera from a fixed point over an room to the over-the-shoulder TPP one, but the combat remains as brutal and satisfying as it has ever been.

Key features
  • You are Kratos, the god of war of the Greek pantheon
  • The latest installments have Kratos butt heads with Norse deities
  • A series of awesome action games
  • 2018’s God of War was received so well it got a sequel, Ragnarok
        

Darksiders

Release:2010-09-23
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Vigil Games

Darksiders’ protagonist War isn’t an embodiment of a concept, but he still is a force to be reckoned with, hacking and slashing his way through legions of demons and angels in order to clear his name of an alleged much greater crime against Balance.

As one of four surviving Nephilim, he is already one of the most powerful beings in the Darksiders universe, but when empowered to perform his function as the Horseman of War, he’s strong enough to make armies of Heaven and Hell tremble in fear.

Darksiders

Darksiders is a game that uses the brutality of God of War, gameplay loop of Legend of Zelda, and the art and flair of Joe “Mad” Madureira to create a stylish and satisfying third-person perspective action-adventure game set in an evocative world. At the time of writing the series has four installments, each focusing on a different Horseman of the Darksiders’ lore. DS2 is about Death, DS3 is about Fury, and the prequel, DS Genesis, stars both War and Strife.

Key features
  • Become the Horseman of War, seeking revenge for his wrongful imprisonment
  • You’ll face both angels and demons on your journey
  • Fantastic voice acting and unique art direction
  • In other entries you also get to play Death, Fury, and Strife
        

Asura's Wrath

PS3
Xbox 360
Release:2012-02-21
Genre:Beat 'em up
Developer:CyberConnect 2

If War and Kratos had anger issues, Asura of Asura’s Wrath is made of them. The deities of this highly cinematic game’s setting are closer to cyborgs fuelled by belief and emotion.

Through events which best remain left for you to discover, Asura, a general of the heaven’s armies and a powerful fighter in his own right, ends up with a very legitimate grudge against other deities.

Asura's Wrath

Most of the game is Asura’s roaring rampage of revenge fuelled by his infinite wrath. One of the opening episodes has furious Asura punch a planet-sized deity so hard it explodes, and the action, and wrath, only go up from there. The angrier Asura get, the more cyber-arms he has, although they can’t always endure his power. Asura’s Wrath is still worth checking out if you can, and Asura himself is probably the angriest deity in pop culture.

Key features
  • An epic-scale, episodic story
  • Asura never stop being angry, and it’s a great source of power for him
  • Become one of cyborg-deities and exact revenge on those who hurt your family
  • Many Quick-Time Events, all letting you see some amazing scenes
        

Too Human

Release:2008-08-19
Genre:Shooter
Developer:Silicon Knights

While Asura’s Wrath was inspired by Eastern mythologies and put them through a cybernetic mould, Too Human did something similar with the Norse mythology.

The gods of this game are humans with extensive cybernetic augmentations, making them vastly more powerful than normal people who worship them as gods. The Æsir, as the cyborgs are known, are tasked with protecting humanity during the harsh nuclear winter in which machines known as the Children of Ymir thrive.

Too Human Video Game

The protagonist is Baldur, who due to a lesser degree of augmentation is considered “too human” by other Æsir. The game is an action RPG, with fast-paced combat and a strong emphasis on mixing melee and ranged weapons to build combos through diversifying your attacks. If you’re interested in seeing what science fiction versions of Thor, Baldur or Loki would be like, check this game out if you can find it.

Key features
  • Cybernetic Norse myths
  • Dynamic third-person melee action
  • You play as Baldur, didn’t get as augmented as his peers
  • Several classes and in-depth progression
        

The Darkness & The Darkness II

Release:2012-02-09
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Digital Extremes

The Darkness, and its mortal enemy (and lover) Angelus are the primal manifestations of, respectively, the darkness before time, and the Light separated from it.

They are as close to eternal creatures as it gets in this setting, and in The Darkness games we’re playing Jackie Estacado, a host of one of them, the eponymous ominous deity. In a way, here you can be a god by proxy.

The Darkness & The Darkness II

The games are first-person shooters which, in addition to optional dual-wielding cool guns, also feature two tendrils of The Darkness with which Jackie can grab, slash, and tear enemies apart while at the same time shooting their allies. It’s vicious, it’s brutal, and the game has an incredible atmosphere, supported by the Mike Patton-voiced Darkness, taunting and tormenting Jackie throughout the experience. Quite devilish.

Key features
  • You’re unwillingly holding the powers of primordial darkness
  • Excellent, story-driven first-person shooters
  • Great 4-person co-op in The Darkness II
  • A horror, a mafia story, and a super…hero? story all in one package
        

Ōkami

Release:2006-04-20
Genre:Action & Adventure
Developer:Clover Studio

The protagonist of Ōkami is Amaterasu, a sun goddess of the Shinto religion (the sun goddess, to be exact), in a white wolf form.

As she moves through the world inspired by the mythology and history of Japan, she can heal the world bit by bit, helping humans, letting plants bloom, and paint things into existence. As she liberates strongholds occupied by demons and restores nature, the world comes back to life.

This is the power of a creator of the world coming back to her full power. Ōkami is an action-adventure game originally released on PlayStation 2, but has since been re-released several times in its remastered HD form, eventually reaching PC in 2017 and Nintendo Switch in 2018. The player takes the white wolf Amaterasu on a journey filled with combat, puzzles, exploration, and painting objects into the world with her divine brush.

Key features
  • Paint the world into existence as Amaterasu
  • Based on Japanese mythology
  • Not only are you a goddess, but also a wolf
  • Received a 2011 Nintendo DS sequel, Ōkamiden

Celestial conclusion

Thus ends our collection of games where you are godlike, whether in a grand, world-changing scale, a personal level, or anything in-between. Most of these games are offline singleplayer affairs, but some offer online options, if you prefer being a god with friends.

Hopefully, we gave you enough titles to consider and you’ll find something that will suit your gaming preferences.