We’ve all wanted to play god, right? Whether creating vast, beautiful worlds or using your divine powers to smite the unbelievers, many gamers have a bit of a god complex. Back in 2001 Peter Molyneux and his fledgling company Lionhead Studios set out to allow gamers to do just that. With the release of Black & White players had all the heavenly influence they could ever dream of having. You play as a god who can control small villages of people by using whatever powers you can imagine. The trick was, the way you used your powers influenced the way your worshippers perceived you. A god who reaps bountiful crops and prevents natural disasters is a benevolent kind deity, revered by all. But a god who uses his power to destroy his people with tornados, floods, and meteors was a cruel ruler to be feared. The game was a blast to play and critics loved how it really lived up to the promise of being a god. Sadly, with developer Lionhead Studios’ shutdown in 2016, it’s likely we’ll never receive a modern revival to this game and its 2005 sequel. But not all is lost! Throughout the years, many other developers have sought to meet the gamer god complex. Here is a list of 10 games like Black & White that you should be playing right now!
10. Fable Franchise
If you recognized the names Peter Molyneux or Lionhead Studios, it’s likely because of these RPG classics. At its core, a Fable game is a fun, witty, charming fantasy RPG that features a similar heart to Black and White. Big worlds to explore and epic stories to unravel await you in this acclaimed franchise. Three solid mainline games and a few questionable spinoffs await you in the magical land of Albion, where your own personal mythology will unfold. It’s been many years since we’ve had a proper entry in this franchise but with Microsoft still in possession of the rights, we may just get a sequel to these special games.
9. Spore (2008)
Spore is all about evolution. You take direct control of a single-cell organism and shepherd them through the various stages of life. It starts microscopic as you guide your little creature through evolution until your microbe has become a full-blown society, vying to go to space. While the game suffered due to development issues, those of us who played it could testify that watching your once tiny organism take to the stars is a gaming experience that simply cannot be replicated.
If you have already played Spore, you might be interested in our 10 Games Like Spore article!
8. The Sims Series
Before there was Spore, there was The Sims. Chances are you’ve heard the slogan of this iconic gaming franchise, “Play with Life” so simple but yet so enticing. And boy do these games deliver. You, an omniscient observer, can be as involved in the sim’s life as much as you want from helping them interact with other sims, getting a career, falling in love, and starting a family. The story is the life of your sims and seeing it pan out is a one of a kind gaming experience. The only drawback to the Sims is how hours upon hours of your real-life will slip away as you watch your sim live his life to the fullest. So be sure to take a break once in a while and live your own to the fullest too!
7. SimCity Series
Speaking of the Sims, Sim City is a metropolitan management simulator by the creator of the Sims. This game will start you in a piece of land that you must turn into a thriving community by way of adept resource management. As the mayor, you have the power to control everything from tax rates to traffic regulations. Your word (or click) is the law! The real fun comes in the sandbox mode where you can terraform your own landscape, and even summon the powers of nature to destroy all your hard work. Now, I’m not trying to be political, but I would never elect a mayor who could summon a tornado or alien invasion on a whim, unless, of course, that mayor was me.
6. From Dust (2011)
From Dust at first may seem like a very simple game. The control scheme, art style, and narrative are all very simplistic at first glance. But as anyone who played this hidden gem can tell you, this game is anything but simple. You play as a god with the ability to manipulate the elements of nature to protect a little tribe of worshippers. The early stages of the game will see you building land bridges and digging rivers for your people. But as you progress, it seems like all of nature is out to get you as you contend with tsunamis, wildfires, and even volcanic eruptions. If you’ve ever wanted to go toe to toe with the forces of nature in a vicious deathmatch, From Dust is the game for you.
5. Age of Mythology (2002)
Age of Mythology is what happens when someone wants their players to literally become a god. A spin-off of the venerable Age of Empires series, Age of Mythology gives players direct control over an ancient culture and their god. The list of gods included the big superstars like Zeus, Odin, and Anubis from their respective cultures, but also included minor gods each with their own special powers. Now you can’t summon meteors or volcanos at will, but once you’ve used Zeus’ thunderbolt to turn the tide of battle in your favor, it is hard to go back. This title recently received a re-release on Steam in 2014 along with a new expansion pack in 2016, so now is a great time to pick up a copy!
4. Reus (2016)
Reus is an indie game made by developer Abbey Games. It takes its title (which is the Dutch word for “giant”) from the planet shaping titans that the player controls. The objective is to simply use the four different giants to shape various planets into your very own sandboxes. Figuring out how to make a lush forest or snow-covered mountains is half the fun of building your world. Then you get to help little civilizations grow, but your world will shape how they build their society. For instance, a civilization with scarce resources may explore more to find better land, but a civilization that wants for nothing could eventually find themselves overpopulated and overworking the land. Watching the people adapt to the world that you create is the real appeal of this charming indie title.
3. Tethered (2017)
Often named as a VR Black & White, Tethered is an indie game that delivers a unique “hands-on” approach to playing god. Much like From Dust, Tethered sets the player in a world where they can influence nature but not necessarily control it. You use a sort of spiritual rope to lasso bits of the world together to where you literally hold the world on a string. It’s up to you to make the floating islands a home for the little “Peeps” who depend on you for survival and even happiness. Interested in this premise but blocked by the significant wall put up by VR? Fear not! Tethered is now available to be played with or without a headset.
2. Crest (2018)
Crest is an indie strategy game that had a very successful crowdfunding campaign in 2014 and was specifically marketed as a spiritual successor of Lionhead studios’ god-based games like Black & White. This indie game differs from other games in the genre in that you have no real control over what your followers do. You simply can give them your holy commandments and hope they follow those well. It’s incredibly satisfying to see your civilization unite around your peaceful will, but it’s much more interesting when you have heretics corrupting your words and watching your tribe fight about who is right and who is wrong. There’s probably a lesson to be learned there but I don’t have time to think about that, I’ve got more prophets to make.
1. The Universim (2018)
Perhaps the most ambitious game on this list, The Universim looks to give the player an unprecedented level of power and control over not only one world, but all worlds. Much like the other games in this genre, you must use your godlike powers to help and influence a fledgling civilization from its beginnings to its own space age. Where it differs is that the space age is not the end, now they can find new and more exciting planets to explore and colonize. The universe is yours to control, one planet at a time. The Universim just entered beta as of December 2019 so ongoing support means this game is only going to get bigger and better! We highly suggest that you check it out.
Video games have always been an art form about giving control to the player. These games take that concept and run with it to the very extreme. The freedom and choice offered with games like Black & White are the purest form of escape letting gamers make their own worlds the way they see fit. There’s a ton of fun and value to be had with a god game. However, if there’s one thing these games have taught me, it’s that with the number of meteors I’ve hurled in these games, I’d make a pretty crappy god. We hope you enjoyed our 10 Games Like Black & White list and we hope you found a new game to be a god in!