It’s hard to imagine where humanity would be today without great books. Many hold information that has been passed down for centuries. Others tell stories that remove us from this world and transport us to someplace completely different. It’s no surprise that many books have been adapted into movies over the years, though a lot have yet to receive the video game treatment. The following is a list of books that could become great video games if done right.
Books that could become video games – Ender’s Game
Popular sci-fi series Ender’s Game follows a genius boy named Ender Wiggin who’s recruited to a battle station school to train against an incoming alien invasion. The first entry in the franchise received a movie adaptation in 2013, but the property has yet to appear in other media. It’s a shame considering the series’ massive following and its subversive nature.
As a video game, Ender’s Game could work as a hybrid that combines third-person shooter elements with real-time strategy. Shooting mechanics would come into play during the story’s training sessions, which sees students form squads to fight in zero gravity. Strategy would become more pronounced later on when Ender is tasked with completing war simulations in space. Off the virtual battlefield, the protagonist can talk and complete errands for his comrades to build trust and improve their performances. A good, true Ender’s Game title would seamlessly work all these pieces together.
Books that could become video games – Mistborn
A Mistborn video game would be something akin to a combination of Dishonored and Mass Effect. It’s a series set in a world where humans possess elemental powers and governments are run by merciless dictators. Protagonist Vin is tasked with finding allies to help her bring down the unscrupulous Final Empire and the powerful Allomancers that do its biding.
It goes without saying that a game adaptation of Mistborn would benefit from RPG mechanics that allow players to make critical choices on who will join their cause. Party members should be recruited based off their strengths and weaknesses, especially in relation to the looming Allomancer threat. Speaking of these magical beings, it would be nice if players are able to have Allomancy abilities of their own to enhance certain characteristics like physical strength in times of need. Developers could have a ton of fun with Mistborn if they’re brave enough to explore its supernatural elements.
Books that could become video games – Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Philip Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was adapted into a film called Blade Runner in 1982. Since then, the two titles have been used to refer to the same story of a retired bounty returning to action to catch android fugitives on the run. If you’re thinking this premise sounds similar to Quantic Dream’s most recent game Detroit: Become Human, you may see where we’re headed with this entry.
The French developer and the Blade Runner series rarely rely on action in the narratives they weave. Philip Dick’s property would do well in the hands of a studio known for its intricate dialogue choices and realistic graphical style. There’s also plenty of moral ambiguity to explore, which Quantic Dream certainly welcomed in Detroit. The roles in a Blade Runner video game adaptation would just be reversed.
Books that could become video games – Dark Tower
A Dark Tower video game has the potential to play like Dark Souls, only with cowboys and guns. Stephen King’s famous series follows the tale of an Arthurian Knight named Roland Deschain of Gilead as he does his best to reach the mysterious Dark Tower that lies at the center of all possible realities in the universe. Along the way, he has to fight off the many incarnations of his nemesis, The Man in Black.
The series sees Roland venture through many different harsh realities to reach his end goal. In each of these unforgiving worlds, one of The Man in Black’s forms could appear as a boss until fans eventually get to face his true self in the Dark Tower. Throughout the journey, players should be tasked with dodging out of harm’s way similarly to FromSoftware’s aforementioned franchise. This time, however, they’ll have to shoot a little more often than what they’re used to.
Books that could become video games – Heart of Darkness
Though Spec Ops: The Line is heavily inspired by Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, the gaming industry has yet to see a full-fledged adaptation of the famous story recreated for modern audiences to enjoy. The success of Red Dead Redemption 2 proves that people today do find titles set in the past interesting, and publishers like Rockstar Games are willing to invest the money to totally immerse players in a bygone era.
For those that have yet to read this classic, Heart of Darkness is told from the point of view of Charles Marlow, a sailor and recurring character in Conrad’s literary works. Marlow describes his journey into the Congo Free State, once known as the “Heart of Africa,” via the Congo River, and the encounters he had with the ivory traders and indigenous people while there.
The novel largely delves into controversial topics like imperialism and racism and asks readers whether or not a divide separates civilizations from the so-called “savages” of Africa. Because of its exposition-heavy nature, a Heart of Darkness adaptation may benefit from a point and click format with many moral dilemmas. If developed carefully, a Heart of Darkness video game could reflect on some serious topics that we still debate today.
Books represent a lot of untapped potential for gaming. Be it dangerous uncharted rain forests or intergalactic space wars, the real and surreal worlds of each novel above can prove to be compelling if designed properly. It helps that these stories have been lauded by book critics for decades now. A quality narrative backbone for these properties obviously already exists. and each just needs an intrepid developer willing to craft gameplay mechanics that make sense.