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History
 

Video games are sometimes criticised for pillaged historical cultural contexts as places to pitch their shooting battles. Many games do treat historic periods or military battles to embellish the visuals without realism.

There are, however, all sorts of games that use history as more than window dressing. This might be something as simple as accurately creating period-appropriate weapons and uniforms, like in War Thunder or Enlisted. This might also be offering the player to experience battles not from the perspective of the victors. Or, like in This War of Mine, what it was like for those caught up in conflict as civilians.

Beyond warfare, games offer a wide array of accurate depictions of different civilisations and eras. Through the Darkest of Times is a strategy game that conveys the sombre mood of the dark period of history between January 1933 and May 1945. The Forgotten City is a mystery adventure set in the final days of a cursed Roman city. Treasures of the Aegean is a Tin Tin-style tomb raiding adventure game with a surprisingly accurate bronze age Aegean civilisation.

There are other games that introduce historical techniques and tools. In Heaven’s Vault you play an archaeologist translating an ancient alien language whose decrypting weaves through an unfolding drama. In Return of the Obra Dinn you revisit the moment of death of 60 sailors on an ancient ship and use evidence to piece together their identity and what happened.

Other games recreate a time period's architecture and culture so you can explore it first-hand. Discovery Tour is a special mode that uses the worlds created for the main Assassin’s Creed games to offer a historical exploration experience. Discovery Tour: Viking Age is set in Britain and Norway, around 870 AD. It sheds light on the Viking era and allows players to discover more about the history and traditions of the time. Raji: An Ancient Epic is a running and jumping puzzle game drawing on Hindu and Balinese history. Taking inspiration from tales like Mahabharata and Ramayana you play a young girl named Raji who is chosen by the gods to defend the human race.

There are even games that help players appreciate the scale of history and time. Deep Time Walk is a game where you go for a walk as you listen to a history of the earth that's tied to each step. The game calculates your speed and distance to match your real-world progress and translates it to a journey across 4.6bn years of time, taking in every key evolutionary event as they occur.
 
This list includes 50 games from the last 26 years, with 485 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to understand the past.

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Age of Empires IV

Release Date: 02/02/1998, updated in 2023

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS2, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Open World

Age of Empires IV is a strategy game where you command an ancient civilisation in real-time and must develop from hunter-gatherers to advanced forms of defence and war. This is similar territory to Civilization but focuses on...

80 Days

Release Date: 31/07/2014, updated in 2019

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Day and Night

80 Days is a travel and culture discovery game set in 1872, where decisions about your journey around the world impact the course of the story and characters. You play be deciding where to go next and talking to the people you meet to find the right...

Tiny Glade

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead

Tiny Glade is a simulation game that gets you doodling picturesque castles. More of a toy than a game, you play by placing and moving different elements of your construction. As you do the game magically connects everything together to create beautiful...

Valiant Hearts The Great War

Release Date: 25/06/2014, updated in 2018

Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Valiant Hearts The Great War is an adventure game set during World War I. You play four characters who help a young German soldier find his love in a story about survival, sacrifice and friendship. This is achieved by solving puzzles and interacting...

Assassin's Creed Discovery Tour

Release Date: 10/09/2018, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Assassin's Creed Discovery Tour is a special mode that uses the worlds created for the main Assassin’s Creed games to offer an educational exploration experience. It is available both as a free part of the original games...

South of the Circle

Release Date: 20/10/2020

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

South of the Circle is a narrative adventure game about, Peter, a Cambridge academic who finds himself fighting for survival in Antarctica during the 1960’s Cold War. You must cross desolate terrain to reach British, Norwegian and Soviet Antarctic...

The Banner Saga (Series)

Release Date: 14/01/2014, updated in 2016

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

The Banner Saga is a beautiful fantasy adventure where your strategic choices directly affect your personal story and the world around you. You play as two characters, each with their own related story.

War Thunder

Release Date: 21/12/2016, updated in 2018

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

War Thunder is a shooting game where you drive a range of vehicles in warfare combat. Similar to Wargaming's World of Warplanes it creates realistic battles on air, land, and sea. The attraction of the combat is that each vehicle or craft’s...

Enlisted

Release Date: 10/11/2020, updated in 2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Enlisted is an online shooting game set in historically accurate World War II battle. You play a squad of soldiers and can switch between them as you take on other players doing the same in large online battles. It's unusual not only for its historical...

Return of the Obra Dinn

Release Date: 18/10/2019

Out Now: PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Pixels

Return of the Obra Dinn is a narrative puzzle game where you play a shipping company agent assessing what happened on board a fictional East India Company ship where all the passengers have mysteriously died. Exploring the ship, you can revisit the...

Bad North

Release Date: 31/10/2018, updated in 2018

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Grid

Bad North is a stylised strategy fighting game. You control an army defending an island and must train and develop your forces efficiently. The simple visuals and knife-edge Viking combat along with the jeopardy of losing precious troops make this a lot...

Heaven's Vault

Release Date: 16/04/2019

Out Now: PC, PS4 and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Heaven's Vault is a communication adventure game you play an archaeologist translating an ancient alien language whose decrypting weaves through an unfolding drama. While doing real linguistic work you interact with companions and locals. Your choices...

The Forgotten City

Release Date: 28/07/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Open World

The Forgotten City is a mystery adventure. You explore and relive the final days of a cursed Roman city, where if one person sins, everyone dies. It starts as a bewildering array of characters, locations and information but over multiple goes your...

Through the Darkest of Times

Release Date: 27/05/2020, updated in 2020

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Through the Darkest of Times is a strategy game that conveys the sombre mood of the dark period of history between January 1933 and May 1945. With interactive drama, it tells the story and the struggles of average people living in the 3rd Reich.

This War Of Mine

Release Date: 14/11/2014, updated in 2016

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Day and Night

This War Of Mine is a narrative strategy game inspired by the 1992–96 Siege of Sarajevo, this is a war game where you play the civilian trying to survive during the fighting. You face tough decisions on how to spend time and resources each day to...

Raji: An Ancient Epic

Release Date: 15/10/2020

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Raji: An Ancient Epic is a running and jumping puzzle game drawing on Hindu and Balinese history. Taking inspiration from tales like Mahabharata and Ramayana you play a young girl named Raji who is chosen by the gods to defend the human race.

Humankind

Release Date: 17/08/2021, updated in 2023

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Open World

Humankind is a strategy game where you develop a civilisation through the many ages of humanity's existence, from the nomadic tribes of ancient history to the space age. In many ways comparable to [link to game/Sid+Meiers+Civilization The Civilization...

Gerda: A Flame in Winter

Release Date: 01/09/2022, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Gerda: A Flame in Winter is a narrative adventure game set in the small Danish village. Gerda's quiet life is turned upside down during the World War 2 occupation of her home. You choose where to go, how to act, and who to trust. It stands out for the...

Over The Alps

Release Date: 31/03/2020

Out Now: PC and iPhone, iPad

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Over The Alps is an adventure with intrigue and espionage set in 1939 Switzerland. Designed to look like retro photographs. The story unfolds as you select stamps to indicate how your character should approach interactions. Discover a secret history in...

Foundation

Release Date: 01/02/2019, updated in 2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead

Foundation is a city-building simulation game where you create networks of supply and consumption in a medieval village. You not only develop structures, gather resources and create your own unique settlement, but also manage the individual needs of...

Not Tonight (Series)

Release Date: 17/08/2018, updated in 2020

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Not Tonight is a tongue-in-cheek role-play adventure where you challenge the political establishment in alternative versions of Post-Brexit Britain (in the first game) or capitalism-run-rampant America (in the sequel). You take on a time pressured...

Suzerain

Release Date: 04/12/2020

Out Now: Mac and PC

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Suzerain is a role-play strategy game where you are the president of the fictional country, Sordland. By choosing conversations and life path you use your skills of persuasion and political values to reform your country after the downfall of a dictator.

A Case of Distrust

Release Date: 08/02/2018

Out Now: PC, Switch and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

A Case of Distrust is a narrative game set in the roaring 20's where you play a hardboiled detective, Phyllis Cadence Malone, investigating a mystery full of deception and doubt. You help her struggle to overcome insecurities amidst pushback against...

The War to End All Wars (Dreams)

Release Date: 14/02/2021

Out Now: PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and 3D Third-Person

The War to End All Wars is a point-and-click game set in a World War One battlefield visitor centre. However, as you interact with the exhibits you get taken back in time to live the experience through the eyes of a soldier. Unusually, it uses...

Type:Rider

Release Date: 10/10/2013, updated in 2019

Out Now: Android, PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Text

Type:Rider is an adventure game where you play as the two dots of a colon as they roll and jump through levels made up of the letters and styles of different ages of typography. The level design showcases the fonts, techniques, artwork, people, and even...

Inua - A Story in Ice and Time

Release Date: 10/02/2022

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Inua - A Story in Ice and Time is a narrative-driven role-playing game where you switch between 3 different time periods, alter people's memories and thoughts, and change both the past and the future. In the far Canadian north, you meet three groups of...

Pharaoh

Release Date: 01/01/1999, updated in 2016

Out Now: PC

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid, Open World and Pixels

Pharaoh (and expansion pack Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile) took the Caesar real-time strategy games to Ancient Egypt. It's a strategy game where you make decisions about a particular city and scenario. The combination of planning and real historical...

11-11 Memories Retold

Release Date: 08/11/2018

Out Now: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made

11-11 Memories Retold is a narrative adventure about two young men caught up in the first world war. A young photographer who joins the western front in Europe to impress a woman, and a German technician who's signs up in search of his son who is...

Manor Lords

Release Date: 26/04/2024

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night and Open World

Manor Lords is a medieval city-building strategy game with a focus on visual and simulated realism. You grow your settlement, manage its politics and relations with other kingdoms, and fight in real-time battles, all while gathering resources and...

Treasures of the Aegean

Release Date: 11/11/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Treasures of the Aegean is a Tin Tin-style tomb raiding adventure game. You are Marie Taylor and unveil the secrets of a forgotten kingdom trapped in an endless time loop. To do this, in 15 minute runs you explore a hand-drawn world to recover valuable...

Deep Time Walk

Release Date: 09/12/2016

Out Now: Android and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Open World

Deep Time Walk is a physically-active narrative game where you go for a walk as you listen to a history of the Earth that's tied to each step. The game calculates your speed and distance to match your real-world progress and translates it to a journey...

Jotun

Release Date: 29/09/2015, updated in 2018

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Wii U and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made

Jotun is a fighting game where you prove yourself to the Norse gods by defeating mythical beasts. You forge your way to each beast's lair, then take them on, armed with only your axe and the magical abilities you're granted. These larger-than-life...

Railway Empire 2

Release Date: 25/05/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Railway Empire 2 is a train business management simulator where you construct a railway system to connect cities of early America and turn a profit. You place tracks and stations to link rural businesses with cities for supply, processing and...

Svoboda 1945: Liberation

Release Date: 03/08/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: Filmed

Svoboda 1945: Liberation is a narrative game that uses footage of real actors to tell an interweaving story about the aftermath of the Second World War. As you talk to the villagers, explore locations untouched for years and complete puzzles, you...

The Legend of Tianding

Release Date: 01/11/2021

Out Now: PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

The Legend of Tianding is a running, jumping and fighting game where you play a fugitive vigilante in Taipei city. It stands out for its unusual cultural setting, comic book storytelling and fast combat action. Based on real events, real people and real...

The Lion's Song

Release Date: 07/07/2016

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

The Lion's Song is a narrative adventure set in pre-war Vienna, about a talented young musician with great expectations placed upon her. Play involves traversing the city, talking to locals and deciding how best to make your way in the world. It stands...

1428: Shadows over Silesia

Release Date: 04/10/2022

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made

1428: Shadows over Silesia is a historical adventure where you explore 15th-century Europe through the eyes of two characters intertwined at the outbreak of war. You fight opponents, sneak around enemy sites, and solve puzzles to progress through the...

Blackhaven

Release Date: 27/07/2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Blackhaven is a narrative adventure where you play a college intern at Blackhaven Hall, a historic mansion burned down during the American Revolution. Play involves exploring the building and discovering a trail of secrets and misdeeds that span centuries.

Card Shark

Release Date: 02/06/2022

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cards and Hand-Made

Card Shark is an adventure game about a French 18th century con artist. With your partner, you go from location to location swindling politicians and royals with the devious card cheat mini-games you learn. It looks like a card game, but actually it's a...

Hearts of Iron IV

Release Date: 06/06/2016

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Open World and Weather

Hearts of Iron IV is a strategy game that recreates the Risk board game with a broader scope and grander scale. Along with managing your country's military, you build a cabinet, manage politics, and build up infrastructure to help maintain your...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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