Cover art for Tevinter Nights

These Are the Best Fantasy Video Games to Scratch Your LOTR Itch

Dragons and Magic and Elves, oh my!

It’s not an overstatement to say that Amazon’s The Rings of Power has been the subject of rampant criticism. Some people are understandably (and, in my opinion, rightfully) upset at the fact that Amazon, of all things, is producing this show, and believe it takes away from JRR Tolkien’s original beliefs and the values that went into making Lord of the Rings. Others are just mad about the show’s diversity, which is, as we all know, a dunce-cap level of absurdity.

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Either which way you fall, it probably feels disappointing for such a cultural monolith as LOTR to find itself in such a haphazard situation. Luckily for you, Middle Earth was the direct inspiration of many modern fantasy and video games. And I happen to think that games are probably one of the best ways to engage with literary concepts (second to, you know, actually reading the source material) because games allow people to directly take part in a world and experience it.

So, with all that being said: if The Rings of Power nurtured a LOTR itch in you that you just can’t seem to scratch, here are some games that should hopefully help you out with that.

Baldur’s Gate 3

Reddit user shares their Asian elf in Baldur's Gate 3

All of the Baldur’s Gate titles are phenomenal masterworks in game storytelling and worldbuilding, but I’m highlighting Baldur’s Gate 3, in particular, because it’s still in early access and deserves all the support it can get. It’s a fantastic game thus far, full of clever writing and endlessly fun plotlines that I’m still not sick of. I honestly can’t wait for the game’s full release, if only so I can take my relationship with the goth half-elf Shadowheart to the next level.

If you’re unfamiliar with this franchise, it plays directly from the world of Dungeons and Dragons, whose lore was directly inspired by Tolkien’s works. In that sense, it might just be the closest thing to a spiritual successor we can get…aside from, you know, the actual Middle Earth video games out there.

Which I haven’t included on this list. Because they’re comparably mid. Sorry, not sorry!



Yes, Skyrim leaves a lot to be desired, but to act like it isn’t an epic fantasy game in its own right is just being pretentious. Bad writing or no, you can’t deny that it feels really, really good to roam the vast, gorgeous landscapes of the game while a gorgeous orchestral score follows you.

The thing that I love the most about Skyrim is that its depth comes from within the player. The game itself is somewhat shallow, but it creates the most epic sandbox with which to create a very personal, very fantastical narrative for the player to mess around with. Whether you want to be a lonesome mage desperate to find meaning within her struggles (my fave playstyle), or you just wanna be a strung-out punchcat (a classic), there’s a way to be who you wanna be.



When I was a kid, I bought Oblivion because it had horses in it. Then I met my first zombie within five minutes of playing the game, and it was such a traumatizing core memory for me, I put off playing the game for several years.

Now that I’ve finally given it an honest shot, however, I finally see what the hype was all about. Oblivion kicks ass. Yes, it’s a little dated by modern standards, but if you install a few mods to help with the graphics and the bugs, it feels as good as new. There’s an irresistible chaos to Oblivion that makes you simultaneously feel like a god, AND like a fresh-faced teenager who’s just won the lottery after working overtime at Papa John’s. Rest in Pizza, Acrobatics skill…

Dragon Age: Origins

Alistair fighting an ogre

Ah, yes. My favorite game. If you’re at all familiar with my articles, you’re probably ready to throttle me for mentioning Dragon Age: Origins for the millionth time. Here’s the thing, though: it really is just that good, and even with that being said, every time I go to replay it, I come away realizing it’s STILL that good, and then some!

Dragon Age: Origins is a fantasy nerd’s dream come true. It’s the game that got me into fantasy in the first place, having previously been bored to tears by my family’s LOTR marathons. It’s got drama, intrigue, banter, and hot puka-shell-wearing boyfriends, oh god, yes!!!

Alistair Theirin | Wiki | Dragon Age World Amino

Elden Ring

Elden Ring
(From Software)

Even though this game was written by GRRM and meant to take influence from A Song of Ice and Fire, GRRM was inspired by JRRT, and therefore, I feel comfortable calling Elden Ring a fairly faithful homage to Middle Earth. It certainly feels like one, what with all the beautiful doom and gloom in the Forgotten Lands.

Of course, a game like this isn’t for the faint of heart, and the difficulty could reasonably be a turn-off. But it’s still a gorgeous game worth exploring, with rich lore and a sense of endless curiosity that you could completely lose yourself in.

Dark Souls

Promo art for Dark Souls Remastered

Similarly, the difficulty in Dark Souls could be a turn-off. A very notorious turn-off. But, again, it’d be a shame for the difficult to turn people off of what might be one of the most beautiful, moving dark fantasy games of our time.

Dark Souls is frustrating and, at times, unfair. But there’s a reason why so many people love it. It’s deliberately desolate, and in its desolation, there is beauty and a sense of perseverance in spite of it all. “Don’t you dare go hollow” has become a sort of rallying cry for people not just to finish the game, but to go on and see that sort of beauty in real life.

And, of course, there are giant birds.

Divinity: Original Sin 2


This past summer was a fun one for me, but I gotta admit, I lost quite a few hours to Divinity: Original Sin 2. Even during the moments where it frustrated me the most (those goddamn oil fields…), I’d walk away from my computer and still find myself thinking about it. It was the sort of game that’s designed to pull you in. The writing, the lore, the plot, all of it is completely engrossing, in the best way possible.

In Divinity, you play as a Godwoken: a person who’s been chosen to rise to godhood, for phenomenally intriguing reasons that are revealed to you over time. You can play as either a custom character, or one of five pre-made characters who could potentially become your companions. There are just so many ways to play this game, and I already know that the next time I play it, I’m gonna lose myself to it all over again. It’s like an on-again, off-again FWB situation: really goddamn annoying, but really goddamn fun.

Dragon’s Dogma


I will never stop banging my broom against a bucket from the rooftops and proclaiming my love for Dragon’s Dogma, Capcom’s underrated middle-child. Is the plot interesting? Not really. Is the lore rich? Eh, debatable. But the game itself is just liquid gold, guys, it manages to be unique in a market that’s become entirely too saturated with the same shit over and over again.

Your character has their heart stolen from Grigori, a reincarnated Dragon; this makes your character an Arisen, someone who is destined to ostensibly affect the cycle of Dragons, Life, and Death. You are also partnered with a fully-customizable Pawn: one of a legion of mysterious beings that can be recruited to aid the Arisen. There’s a sort of quiet soulfulness to Dragon’s Dogma that comes from your relationship to the world around you, and your relationship not just with your Main Pawn, but also the player-created Pawns you recruit throughout your journey.

Also, the combat kicks absolute ass. #MagickArcherGang.

Breath of the Wild

Landscape shot from the opening cutscene from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I’ve seen Breath of the Wild likened to Lord of the Rings quite a bit, which initially surprised me, but ultimately I understand. Both titles have the (twinkish) protagonist undergo a heroic journey against seemingly insurmountable odds. And both titles are utterly fantastical.

If you’re reading this and rolling your eyes, sick of hearing about Breath of the Wild, believe me, I get it, I was there once. And then I played the game, and had a rare moment of realizing that the hype was totally deserved. Ultimately, I think most people are doing themselves a disservice by not playing BOTW if they have the means to. It’s one of those experiences that’s hard to put into words, you just have to live it.

Shadow of the Colossus

Promo image of Wander and Gaius
(Team Ico)

Oh-ho-hoooo, yeah. The big boy. Literally. I don’t think any game has come as close to touching me on an artistic level as Shadow of the Colossus has. It manages to say and do so much without saying or doing much at all, which speaks to its level of profundity.

You play as a man seeking to revive the woman he loves, but in order to do so, you must trek through a beautiful, yet utterly lonely landscape and slay 16 gorgeous colossi. It’s clear from the jump that this is a last ditch effort, yet you have no other choice but to do it.

I think it says something that Shadow of the Colossus makes LOTR feel like a light-hearted romp through a field, yet they both carry that similar feeling of determination within them. If you’re at all curious, you may as well get the Ico combo pack. Same vibes, twice the game.

If you have other suggestions to add to this list, be a hero and leave a comment below! Hot Girl Summer may be ending, but that doesn’t mean we gotta stop indulging in our love for fantasy games.

(Featured Image: Bioware)

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Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).