Games based on movies are often despised for their rushed and seemingly incomplete experiences (Battleship, Shrek, Catwoman) but continue to be made due to their easy marketability and lower intellectual investment. Less establishment is the relationship between video games and books, for better or worse, but the games are notable and the books worth mentioning.

The Witcher (The Witcher by Andrzej Sapowski)

Geralt vs. Baddies

Most likely one of the biggest success stories of text-to-screen, The Witcher franchise has grown from it’s humble beginnings to a full-blown trilogy with the upcoming Witcher 3 game expecting to wow critics and gamers alike. Less-acknowledged though is the separation of the game from its source material. Andrzej Sapowski has gone on record to say that his books would never be influenced by the games, has no interest in playing any games, and considers it an affront when teasers and advertisements for the game make their way into his books. Not to say that the relationship between the author and CD ProjektRed, the developers of The Witcher, is frosty, it’s only that the writer wants a clear distinction between his creation and others’.

Metro 2033 (Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky)

Ranger Bros

Metro 2033 actually gets the distinction of being known first as a video game in North America, since it’s release date was on March 16, 2010 and its source material, Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky, was released two days later on March 18, 2010. A post-apocalyptic setting that threw the kitchen sink at you as you managed details like a gas mask cracking or the two types of ammunition that were rapidly dwindling, Metro 2033 was lauded for its beauty and its difficulty even if the experience was literally on-rails as you followed the abandoned subway system. Whatever similarities the first installments had with each other, they went their separate ways as Dmitry published 2034 which bore little narrative resemblance to Metro: Last Light.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, also Stalker by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky)

Stalker Screen

Starting to notice a trend? Eastern Europeans must love their fiction adaptations. I’m also cheating a bit on this one because Roadside Picnic was the biggest influence on Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, which was eventually turned into a written adaptation by the same two who wrote Roadside Picnic. Anyhow, the important part is that there are these powerful things labelled anomalies, which were possibly left behind by higher beings, being tossed aside like an apple core or bits of trash. Laden throughout the film adaptation is the anticipation of something awful happening though little is understood about the powers-that-be. The game draws from this and gives face to those powers in the form of fearsome creatures. The original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. saw two standalone games released following, but the series is as good as dead since work has ceased on a true sequel.

Spec Ops: The Line (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad)


Though it has plenty of discrepancies from the source material, the inspiration of Heart of Darkness in Spec Ops: The Line can’t be denied. For those who may be a bit more puzzled perhaps it is beneficial to also compare it to another piece of media that draws from Conrad’s novella- Apocalypse Now. The protagonist gets dropped into a situation with more questions than answers and the answers he finds along the way don’t exactly clear things up for him. Good, bad, you, him? The lines blur and though what you take away from the game is different for every person, it is quite possible to leave a powerful impact on the minds of those who are invested in finding the answers.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en)


Subtlety goes out the window when you name your protagonist Monkey, a character with an important novel in the Eastern odyssey The Journey to the West. The game is set in a very green post-apocalyptic United States, showing that a lot of things can happen 150 years after a disastrous war. The game uses the literary influence as more of a guideline than a point-for-point adaptation, but the influences are clear. Trip and Monkey journey across the Northeastern United States after breaking out of slavery on their quest to get home. A few twists are thrown in to keep gamers interested, and even if the final sequence left me scratching my head, Enslaved was one of the smarter games to come out in the past years.

Any literary adaptations you feel I left out?Let me know in the comments.

P.S. A strong case could have been made for Lord of the Rings, but the breadth of those games cover a wide scope and were heavily based on the movies for anything after 2001.

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