Everyone knows that a good portion of Hollywood movies are inspired by or based upon a novel. There’s something so powerful about the construction of prolonged written words crafted to create a memorable story. Few gamers know that a large number of video games are also based on or inspired by novels – some of the best games in the industry, in fact. Come along with us at Bit Cultures as we examine some of the best video games inspired by or based upon a novel.
10. Spec Ops: The Line
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness tells the tale of a shell shocked man and his struggles with his traumatic adventures in the heart of Africa. Spec Ops: The Line borrows heavily from Conrad’s classic, replacing the jungles of Africa with the deserts of Dubai. You play as Captain Walker, and you lead a squad of two other soldiers on a mission to locate Konrad, a man you once served with and the officer in charge of the now silent unit. In Spec Ops, you’re tasked with making extremely difficult moral decisions as Captain Walker. As he sees the consequences of his actions, he must struggle with what he’s done and complete his mission. Like Heart of Darkness, The Line expertly plays with characterization and the fragility of the human mind. Not is all as it seems, and Spec Ops really lands a truth bomb on gamers.
9. Sherlock Holmes
With unparalleled intelligence, bold charisma, and enviable wit, Sherlock Holmes is the ultimate detective. He was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and first appeared in print in 1887 in A Study in Scarlet.
While Homes wasn’t initially met with wide-reception, he eventually gained notoriety and his incredibly perplexing mysterious soon propelled him into notoriety. As the times changed, so did the ways in which audiences experienced the British super-sleuth. Movies, a TV series and, most recently, video games have all transformed Doyle’s character from the page and transformed him into a real-life (well, almost) person for us to work right alongside of.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes was released in 2012 and it’s unique in the fact it presents a completely unique storyline. Fans who read all of Holmes’ adventures were in for an extra treat, while those who know him only by name were swept into an engrossing and challenging game that boasted a unique twist: Holmes was the main suspect in his own case.
Toggling between three distinct camera views, controlling two characters (and a basset hound for a spell), gathering clues, and solving puzzles were all part of the job as players collected information to link together on their “deduction board” in order to get to the bottom of one of Holmes’ most intriguing mysterious.
8. Dynasty Warriors
Dynasty Warriors is a long-running series that first came onto the scene in 1997. There are eight games in the main series and dozens more in multiple spin-off series. Dynasty Warriors follows the struggle between three kingdoms: the Wei, Wu and Shu. As it turns out, the Dynasty Warriors games, not to mention the Dynasty Tactics games and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, were inspired by a book (Romance of the Three Kingdoms) written in the 14th century by Luo Guanzhong. Guanzhong’s series takes the form of a Chinese epic, and is a fictional commentary on the politics of his era. While his account of true events certainly takes a few fantastical shifts, the Dynasty Warriors game series takes the “history” of the three families even further into the realm of fiction. Still, it’s amazing how storytelling from hundreds of years ago can affect modern forms of storytelling like video games.
7. Nancy Drew
The world’s most famous teen detective made her debut in 1930 when The Secret of the Old Clock was published by Carolyn Keen — a pseudonym that would encompass many Drew authors for years to come. The earliest authors of the series were Edward Stratemeyer and Mildred Wirt, later Mildred Wirt Benson, who were paid $125 for their novels. There have been plenty of ghost writers for the series since, including Stratemeyer’s own daughter, Harriet Adams.
In 1986, Keen published the first book in the “Nancy Drew Files” series, Secrets Can Kill. Fast forward 12 years and the first ever Nancy Drew game was released for Windows 98. Secrets Can Kill took a dark turn from its inspiration and followed Nancy as she went undercover at a Florida high school to investigate the recent murder of a student, while the book, Nancy was investigating a string of thefts.
Since Secrets Can Kill, the Nancy Drew game series has spanned 32 titles, taking Nancy everywhere from haunted ryokans in Japan to a reality TV show in New Zealand. These PC games are as challenging as they are engrossing; it’s a series that really does have something for everybody, and it has been a staple of my must-plays ever since I bought Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake from Target nearly a decade ago. The thirty-third Nancy Drew adventure — Midnight in Salem — is slated to release in 2017.
6. American McGee’s Alice
Few pieces of classic literature enthrall me as much as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Few genres intrigue me as much as horror. So when EA published American McGee’s Alice, a horrific take on the classic novel, I was eager to play. While the first game hasn’t aged well (the sequel plays a lot better), the game does an excellent job taking Carroll’s characterizations of the well-known and beloved Wonderland characters and exploit those into something terrifying. Set in a mental institution after no one believed Alice’s adventures into Wonderland, the game’s premise is as grim as its execution. I can guarantee that you’ll never look at the Cheshire cat the same. Though perhaps understanding that Carroll’s novel was an acid inspired trip about a student he was obsessive over is actually the most terrifying aspect of Alice in Wonderland.