If Video Games Were Based On Classic Works Of Literature: ‘Hamlet’

In the first of our series of prospective literary adaptations we turn to Shakespeare’s tragic Prince of Denmark, imagining how this play would play out in video game form.

Hamlet: The Quest For Vengeance

Our protagonist charging up for a soliloquy

Synopsis: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. As Hamlet, embark upon an epic quest of revenge. Along the way, gather your companions, collect weapons, upgrade your abilities to overcome your crippling self-doubt and become King!

Genre: Action, RPG, FPS, Adventure, Action-Adventure, Action-RPG, Action-Adventure-FPS-RPG.

Tips and Tricks:

  • To continue [SPACE BAR] or not to continue [ESC], that is the question.
  • Available party members include Horatio (Support) Rosencrantz (Fighter), Guildenstern (Rogue), Ophelia (Black Mage), and Yorick: a flying, talking skull that provides the coming relief and boosts the duration of Hamlet’s soliloquy ability.
Planescape: Torment [Interplay Entertainment]
  • Depending on your progress through the game, Claudius (Assassin), Polonius (Infiltrator), Laertes (Fighter) and Fortinbras (Paladin) can also be unlocked for use in multiplayer arena battles.
  • Currently Claudius’ poison special is OP, and Polonius’ stealth ability is too easy to detect, but a patch is upcoming to balance this out.
  • Spoiler – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are plot-critical deaths after stage 8, but there’s a trick to keep Ophelia alive, just like with Aeris in FFVII.
  • On stage 7 (Sea of Troubles), don’t select Ophelia to join the battle against the pirates, as she has a critical weakness to water.
  • Try unarmed attacks for a pacifist run, but it’s hard to complete the game without casualties
Fisticuffs are an option
  • There’s a hidden developer room, only available in the Elsinore library if you DO NOT kill Polonius, and check the third shelf from the left after soliloquizing for exactly 30 seconds. Inside you can find William Shakespeare, who confirms that he did, in fact, code the game.
  • Entering the hidden room after reaching level 15 will trigger bonus boss, Christopher Marlowe.
  • A hidden cache in the graveyard stage, far to the east behind a tree, contains several flowers that can be use to upgrade Ophelia’s elemental attacks.
  • Enemies include the forces of Claudius, the army of Fortinbras, pirates, Laertes, your own self-destructive existential dread.
  • Some enemies can collapse without dying recover their health. To make sure the threat is dealt with, keep up your attacks until you hear ‘O, I am slain!’
Polonius is hard to kill, but becomes vulnerable to weapons while hiding to recover his health
  • When enemies die, they often drop quintessence of dust, which can be consumed by Hamlet to recover health and action points.
  • When Hamlet is unaccompanied by party members, Press B to soliloquize. While soliloquizing Hamlet cannot attack, but becomes invulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Use this when under pressure from mobs of ranged enemies.
  • Completing a soliloquy with Yorick in the party will upgrade Hamlet’s normal ‘Skull Toss’ ranged attack to hurl flaming, cackling skulls that explode upon impact for high splash damage. Good for crowd control.
  • Hamlet will occasionally activate soliloquy automatically when Oedipus complex meter is high, this will reduce the meter’s value.
  • When Oedipus complex meter is at least half full, you can spend some of it to summon the King’s Ghost as an ally. Being incorporeal, Hamlet’s father is immune to enemy weapons, even partisans.
Ghost King (level 20 Paladin)
  • Hamlet has four unlockable outfits. All of them are black.
  • After defeating Laertes, you’ll have to face off against Fortinbras and his elite troops. We recommend opening with a Yorick+soliloquy-flaming skull sequence, before finishing off Fortinbras with a dual-wielding sword+bodkin loadout. This build is most effective with the use of poison vials for your weapons. It’s the final battle, so no need to hoard them.
  • There’s a secret way to defeat Fortinbras and get the best ending, which is to soliloquize continuously for 20 mins until the invaders get bored, give up and go home. This is only possible if you make the right dialogue choices and upgrade your Oedipus meter early in the game.
  • Completing the game without dying will get the best ending: Hamlet assumes his throne as the rightful King of Denmark, with an additional secret sequence if Ophelia is saved. Video game critics have raved about this adaption as being a huge improvement on the original source material.

This article originally appeared on video games magazine site NowLoading.co. The site is no longer online, but I’ve uploaded a few articles from my time as a staff writer there (2016-2017) here as portfolio samples.

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