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10 of the best Swedish games everyone should try

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10 of the best Swedish games everyone should try
Unravel (left), Year Walk (centre) and Minecraft (right) are some of the best Swedish games ever Photo: Chris Pizzello/AP & EA & Simogo
06:59 CET+01:00
Did you know that one in every 10 people in the world are estimated to have played a Swedish video game? The Nordic nation is one of the leading forces in the field, but what titles are the cream of their crop? The Local looks at 10 unmissable Swedish games, for both avid gamers and gaming sceptics alike.

Minecraft

Minecraft is more than just a game. Originally developed in Sweden by Markus Persson, the sandbox adventure has spawned a number of spin-offs, a seemingly endless range of merchandise, and even an entire convention dedicated to it.

The source of the success is the simplistic brilliance of the original itself, which basically revolves around building then destroying pretty much anything you like from of a variety of cubes. Think Lego, but infinitely grander.

With more than 107 million copies sold since 2011, it's already the second highest selling video game of all time behind Tetris, which had a near three decade head start. All of those people can't be wrong.

Unravel

A more recent Swedish hit is addictive puzzle platformer Unravel, developed by Coldwood Interactive, who appropriately considering their name, are based in Umeå in northern Sweden.

Starring a simple pile of yarn named "Yarny", Unravel goes to great efforts to make the player feel like they are seeing the world from the perspective of a tiny piece of wool, travelling through the Umeå-inspired backdrop.

A bonus is that you'll get to experience Sweden itself, unlike in many of the big Swedish games which are set elsewhere.

The Battlefield series

One of the most prominent first-person shooters of the 2000s, the Battlefield series is developed by EA Dice in Stockholm, and comprises of 11 games as well as additional expansions backs, starting with the original Battlefield 1942 in 2002.

The first game was set during World War II, but subsequent titles have moved into the modern era or back to World War I. Unlike most first-person shooters, vehicles are key and the maps are large.

The series is particularly popular for its multiplayer mode rather than single player action, and the open beta version of the most recent Battlefield 1 alone had 13.2 million players – the biggest beta EA has ever recorded.


Rapper The Game playing Battlefield 1, the game. Photo: Carlos Delgado/AP

Candy Crush

It may not be flashy, but Stockholm developer King's simple puzzle game Candy Crush became a huge hit thanks to its addictive format based on matching three or more pieces of candy to make them disappear.

As anyone travelling on public transport in 2012 will likely attest, the mobile version was particularly popular thanks not only to the gameplay itself, but also the ability to play it for free – with the catch being that users can pay in order to acquire extra power ups, once they're hooked.

King recently celebrated the trillionth game of Candy Crush being played, and they already had plenty of cause to rejoice before then: in 2012 they were bought by Activision Blizzard for a sweet $5.9 billion. That's a lot of candy.


If this doesn't look familiar, you need to try Candy Crush. Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

Mirror's Edge

Another title developed by EA Dice in the Swedish capital, dystopian adventure Mirror's Edge caught the eye with its distinctive art direction and first-person perspective on unique parkour-like rooftop gameplay.

The game became something of a cult classic thanks in no small part to its popular soundtrack composed by Swedish producers, with the lead track even entering the Swedish singles chart. Mirror's Edge was voted Swedish game of the year in 2009, and a TV series is currently in development.

Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

The distinctly underwhelming Chronicles of Riddick film series is an unlikely candidate to spawn a classic Swedish game, but Escape from Butcher Bay has repeatedly been ranked as one of the finest titles ever to be produced in the country.

Dark, tough, and developed on the mean streets of... Swedish university town Uppsala, the game tracks main character Richard Riddick (voiced by Vin Diesel) as he tries to break out of the pleasant sounding Butcher Bay prison.

Praised for its atmospheric style and pacing, and also said to have a better crafted story than the film, reviewers loved this game. Major gaming sites like IGN and GameSpot handed it editor's choice awards, while it also won Billboard's Golden Joystick Award for being the "Unsung Hero Game of the Year". Put your scepticism to one side, and give it a go.

Year Walk

Mobile game Year Walk ticks a lot of the boxes for Swedishness: Its design is minimalistic, its setting dark and wintery, and its story is based on an ancient form of Swedish divination called "Årsgång", where people would deny themselves the luxury of food, water or conversation before attempting to see the future through interacting with supernatural beings.

The game serves as something of an education on lesser known aspects of Swedish folklore thanks to a companion encyclopedia which can be downloaded alongside it, so people who aren't huge gamers but are interested in Sweden in general could be pleasantly surprised.

It's also suitably bleak: fans of Let the Right One In or Nordic noir will likely feel at home. Not coincidentally, the Malmö developer behind it first conceived the project as a film script.

Just Cause 2

Stockholm developer Avalanche Studios unleashed Just Cause to decent reviews in 2006, but it was the sequel that really made a mark thanks to major improvements on the original.

Like some of the other Swedish games mentioned, its sandbox approach and huge setting is one of the main selling points, and it earned praise for both the freedom afforded to players and the detailed recreation of a pacific island.

Atypically of most of the games included on our list, it also comes with a big slice of humour. A funny game, set in a colourful landscape which proves Sweden can do more than just darkness.

Brothers: A tale of two sons

Award winning Swedish film director Josef Fares, the brains behind seminal Swedish movies like “Jalla! Jalla!”, helped develop this magical adventure with a heart-wrenching plot about two boys trying to track down medicine for their sick father.

The game is packed with side stories and there's an endless amount of things to interact with in its world, showing off the attention to detail you would expect from a film director.

Reviews were glowing, and on top of that it won awards like the Best Xbox Game prize at the 2013 VGX Award Show and Best Game Innovation Award at the British Academy Games Awards 2014.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Helsingborg indy studio Frictional Games produced a gem in 2010's Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a survival horror title which has been described as "perhaps the scariest game of all time".

Players are left alone in an eerie haunted castle where a character with amnesia attempts to piece together his memory, while also keeping his sanity intact. Stealth and patience are key, as are nerves of steel.

The game was huge critical success, winning awards at the 2011 Independent Games Festival, while a new Playstation 4 version released last year means it should be easy to hunt down. Don’t blame us for any nightmares provoked though.

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