Books have been adapted into movies and television shows before, but what many people don’t know is that books have also served as inspirations for video games as well. Video game storytelling has evolved considerably over the years, and some of that storytelling comes from both well-known and relatively obscure novels or tales.
Here are some examples of the more recent adaptations:
1) The Witcher
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Based on a series of Polish novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher tells the story of Geralt of Rivia. He’s a monster hunter who is tasked with protecting a woman named Ciri, who has been prophesied to bring balance to the world of magical creatures. The series has been adapted into a trilogy of video games that have sold over 33 million copies worldwide. A Netflix series starring Henry Cavill (Justice League, Mission Impossible: Fallout) as Geralt is currently filming.
2) The Binding of Isaac
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This dungeon crawler is based on the Biblical story of Isaac, where Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, but he’s stopped by a messenger. In the game, an abusive mother believes God has instructed her to kill her son Isaac in order to prove her faith. Isaac runs away and hides in the basement, where he must battle a series of monsters in order to survive. The creator, Edward McMillen, used the game to express his personal relationship about religion.
3) Enslaved: Odyssey To The West
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Released in 2010 with the playable character being voiced by Andy Serkis, this action game takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. It tells the story of a woman named Trip who recruits a man who calls himself “Monkey” to help her find her way home and survive a hostile environment filled with deadly machines. The story is loosely based on a 16th century Chinese novel titled The Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, which is about a monk named Xuanzang who enlists the help of three disciples (one of which is named Monkey King) to obtain ancient texts.
4) Assassin’s Creed
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The Assassin’s Creed franchise has spawned several different adaptations such as comic books, novels, and movies. But the games themselves are inspired by the 1938 novel Alamut by Vladimir Bartol. In the novel, the fortress of Alamut houses a self-proclaimed prophet named Hassan-i Sabbah, who forms a team of elite assassins in order to gain control of 11th century Persia. In the games, the assassins are made into good guys who are dedicated to bringing balance to the world.
5) Spec Ops: The Line
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Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, about a man hunting down a trader named Mr. Kurtz in Africa, was adapted into the film Apocalypse Now, where the novel’s events were re-interpreted to take place in the Vietnam war. Spec Ops: The Line takes the story and modernizes it into a tale about soldiers in the Middle East searching for survivors in a war zone. All of these adaptations deal with the concepts of a deteriorating mental state, with the latter two specifically dealing with how war can destroy your mind.
6) Parasite Eve
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Unlike the other games on this list, Parasite Eve is actually a sequel to a novel of the same name published in 1995 by Japanese pharmacologist Hideaki Sena. The novel deals with mitochondria that have evolved to form a conscious life-form and begin to take over the world. The game takes place years after the life-form has begun killing humans and puts you in the shoes of a police officer tasked to stop the monstrous being from wiping out all life on Earth.
7) Metro 2033
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Metro 2033 is a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky that was adapted into a video game of the same name. Both the novel and the game take place in an underground train station in Russia after a nuclear holocaust and put you in the shoes of a man who fights to save the station from radioactive monsters. Glukhovsky worked with the games developers in order to make sure the story was accurate.
8) Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
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Published in 1998, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six centers around a fictional counter-terrorist group called Rainbow, which deals in both espionage and tactical attacks. Elements from the novel are employed into the Rainbow Six video game franchise, which is a series of tactical first-person shooters that focus heavily on team-based strategy. The Rainbow Six games, as well as other games that bare Tom Clancy’s name, do not share the same story as the novel.
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Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand’s most popular work, and its story served as the basis for the 2007 game BioShock. Both in the novel and in the game, a group of people craft what they deem the “perfect” society in order to get away from people they feel are inferior to them. But unlike Atlas Shrugged, BioShock deconstructs the ideas of objectivism and shows how selfishness and isolationism leads to man’s own destruction while also infusing the story with science fiction elements such as superhuman abilities and an underwater city.
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