Great video games have been made by adapting everything from movies to comic books. Where book-to-video game adaptations are concerned, the gaming industry hasn’t even scratched the surface. These four books that would make fantastic video games.
For all our love of Batman, and the very successful Arkham series we can’t seem to get enough of, we’ve never really bothered to make a good game for the character upon whom Batman is based. That character is Zorro, one of the original rich-idiot-by-day, vigilante-by-night heroes.
Zorro is one of those heroes most people have heard of, but his story hasn’t been told as recently as Batman’s. Diego de la Vega is a rich nobleman living in Spanish California who most see only as a useless, overdressed fop. When night falls, he puts on a mask and mounts a black horse to ride out and correct the injustices caused by the corrupt governor.
A stylized Western game with one lone swordsman against the forces of corrupt, oppressive government officials… a Zorro game could be the ultimate combination of Red Dead Redemption and the first Assassin’s Creed. Give the game a better combat engine, say the one from Batman’s own Arkham games, and the game has the opportunity to be a swashbuckling Western adventure!
The internet’s obsession with horror games (or perhaps obsession with YouTubers playing horror games) does not appear to be in danger of going away anytime soon. Horror games are everywhere, from the big studio games like Alien: Isolation to atmospheric indies like Five Nights at Freddie’s. So adapting classic Gothic horror novel Dracula wouldn’t be that out of place.
In the book, Jonathan Harker is brought to Dracula’s castle and realizes that he’s not allowed to leave. Dracula subtly manipulates him so that Jonathan is only awake at night, and Jonathan begins to explore the castle against Dracula’s advice. He quickly becomes frightened by some of the things he sees (or doesn’t see), and these nighttime jaunts nearly prove to be his undoing.
If a direct adaptation doesn’t sound like a good enough set-up for a horror game, there is another part of the book that would make an even better one: Dracula eventually finds his way onto the ship Demeter, which is setting sail for England. It eventually runs aground with no one aboard. Making a horror game based on the nightmarish journey of the Demeter where players desperately try to survive Dracula’s nightly assaults sounds like it would fit perfectly in with recent horror releases.
The Dresden Files
The meat and potatoes of any fantasy series are the “rules” and physics by which the universe operates. Creating new properties based on existing fantasy rules is fairly popular and can result in some awesome stories. That’s why you can throw a stone in the fantasy section of any bookstore and hit a D&D novel.
So why not make a fantasy video game based on the popular Dresden Files novels? The rules for this popular series are already in place, waiting for us to play with them. In fact, there already is a Dresden Files tabletop RPG, which seems like a promising place to start. The series has all of the usual staples of magic, vampires, and werewolves.
The Dresden Files is an urban fantasy with a unique style and humorous streak, and that world has an awesome video game in there somewhere. Protagonist Harry Dresden need not even make an appearance, as there is considerable leeway to explore the other parts of this fantasy world. Also a benefit: The author is still alive.
The Nero Wolfe Mysteries
Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us and Frogwares’ most recent Sherlock Holmes game have shown that there is still a market for point-and-click mystery games. There are thousands of mysteries waiting to be adapted into the next adventure game. I’ll suggest the Nero Wolfe mystery series.
The title character is the genius who does all of the thinking, Mr. Wolfe never leaves his house if he can help it, and he needs someone else to do the legwork in the cases. Thus the player takes the role of Archie Goodwin, Wolfe’s assistant: A young, handsome charmer who makes up for what he lacks in intelligence and solving capacity in wit and enthusiasm.
This gives the player freedom to explore and piece things together in their own way as Archie while also having the equivalent of a human computer to consult if they get stuck. It creates a natural feedback system, with the player-as-Archie making educated guesses as to the culprit and Wolfe letting them know if they’re right or wrong. There is some freedom for the game writers to make up their own case, as the original novels aren’t very well-known.
Which books do you think would make awesome video games? Comment below!
Explore more about: Video Game Design.