NyxQuest: Who is Nyx?

Well, who is she?

The game’s cutscenes presents her as a sort of aerial nymph who lives in the clouds, who lives a lonely existence aside from Icarus’s visits, and who never ventures down to the surface until the start of the game. (And for good reason: her powers of flight are too limited for her to get back home.) And I assumed at first that she was just a character made up for the purposes of the game. Which she is, in this form. But, looking her up, I find that, like God of War‘s Kratos, she shares a name with a pre-existing mythological figure, and no mere cup-bearer or servant. Nyx is night. The essence of darkness. She’s one of the primordial gods, older than the gods of Olympus, older than the Titans, older even than Death. She’s Death’s mother, according to Hesiod. For once, it seems completely appropriate to use the phrase “before the dawn of time”, for what precedes dawn but night?

So far is the mythic Nyx from the angel-winged ingenue in this game that my first impulse is to dismiss it as a simple coincidence of name. There are plenty of people in the Spanish-speaking world named Jesus, but most of them don’t walk on water. But when you think about it, the game’s Nyx is an enemy of the sun. I can easily see her ultimate triumph at game’s end sending Helios away for a while, which is to say, producing nightfall. We’ll see how it goes. Regardless, it’s easy to see the story here, of Nyx’s perilous journey through the sun-scorched lands, as a reversed version of the more typical solar myth, like Ra’s barge passing through the underworld every night so he can be reborn in the east. Which, I suppose, would make it a repeating story, with Icarus falling every day so that Nyx can begin the search for him anew. Poor Icarus.

2 Comments so far

  1. matt w on 28 Jan 2011

    This review (video) makes it sound as though the angel-winged ingenue was originally Nike. Which might make sense, what with the wings and all, but also seems a lot more boring.

    It also makes it sound as though the game was originally designed with a two-player mode, which might make sense of some of the rubbing-your-head-while-patting-your-belly sensation you’re getting from the mouse keyboard controls.

  2. matt w on 28 Jan 2011

    Or, more likely, the reviewer was confused.

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