You wanna get to Hadestown? Well, you’re going to need tickets. We don’t have any of those here, but, as your resident fans of Anaïs Mitchell and Broadway musicals, Elvie Mae Parian and Melissa Brinks have combined their powers to bring you a handful of games that channel the aesthetics and narrative of the hit musical. Join us as we drown our sorrows in Norse-inspired psychology, subterranean highways, and a search for Eurydice herself.

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, Dim Bulb Games, 2018

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

Dim Bulb Games
Good Shepherd Entertainment
PC/Mac
February 28, 2018

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine explores the “Big Lie” that is America, unweaving the fabric of its most foundational stories and laying the truth bare. Set over a range of important time periods in American history, the game has you, a storytelling skeleton, meandering across the country, spinning truth into fiction as you go. Its Great Depression aesthetics and incisive modern commentary through historical touchstones are a perfect mirror to Hadestown, which transports an ancient myth into a new context in a way that simultaneously shows us how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go.

 

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Ninja Theory
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
August 8, 2017

Inspired by Norse mythology and Celtic culture, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice follows a character’s journey to Helheim⁠—an underworld equivalent in Norse myth⁠—in order to rescue her dead lover. Hellblade is a dark fantasy action-adventure that combines puzzle-solving sprinkled with heavy elements of horror. Hellblade found commercial success and was generally well-received, but be warned: the main character’s struggle with psychosis is an indispensable part of the narrative and auditory elements of the game can be potentially overstimulating. As Hadestown expands upon the psychology of Orpheus’s journey to rescue Eurydice, Hellblade illustrates how terrifying such a journey can be.

 

The title screen of Don't Look Back, which shows the Orpheus character looking at a gravestone on a field of red.

Don’t Look Back

Terry Cavanagh
Browser-based
March 4, 2009

Remembering Don’t Look Back brings back both fond and painful memories of when Adobe Flash-developed games lived in a lawless, unfiltered land. Don’t Look Back is a loose interpretation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth as a metaphorical confrontation for grief. Stylized similarly to low-bit Atari console graphics, Don’t Look Back compels you to retrieve your deceased lover by confronting hazards and fending off enemies. Just as Hadestown reinterprets the myth as an allegory for something much bigger, Don’t Look Back shows that the journey to the underworld is more personal than literal. Don’t Look Back is Terry Cavanagh’s first published game, and he would later find prolific success as an indie games developer with titles such as VVVVVV, Super Hexagon, and Dicey Dungeons.

Apotheon

Alientrap
PC, Mac, PlayStation 4
February 3, 2015

For those who would love to indulge in more Greek mythology, Apotheon is a side-scrolling, 2D action platformer game that puts all the major deities into one concise world. Developed by Alientrap, you control a young warrior who must confront and battle the gods while humanity has fallen into disarray. There are tons of sidequests and opportunities for a versatile inventory that can diversify your gameplay experience. With a unique, striking art style based on ancient Greek black-figure pottery, Apotheon is a brutally beautiful experience that challenges what it means to be a god or human.

 

Kentucky Route Zero

Cardboard Computer
PC/Mac
January 7, 2013

On the surface, Kentucky Route Zero and Hadestown don’t have much in common. One is a modern surrealist video game exploring a liminal highway, the other is a musical retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the Depression era. And yet there is something harmonious about the two of them: the journey to an unfamiliar place with strange rules, questions of labor and seclusion, and the heady specter of myth and legend about it. I mean, in both stories, a character in the underground partakes of the underworld’s food and drink and ends up trapped. The myths are there, if changed in form and setting. If you enjoy Hadestown‘s two-fold reminder that the things that scared us in the past still scare us today, I can’t recommend Kentucky Route Zero highly enough.