Finally, a video game to film/TV adaptation that isn't terrible! There have been novel attempts, and some examples that game aficionados and viewers alike note as genuine fun (ahem, the 1995 adaptation of Mortal Kombat); however, it’s been quite the hurdle, ushering game IP into passive narrative mediums.
HBO’s The Last of Us has proven that a video game property can be just as gripping as its interactive counterpart. Give it up to that writer’s room for keeping the narrative beats from the original game. It’s also worth noting that the majority of the changes to the adaptation are done in careful reverence of its source material. This means they expanded on narrative territories that might have been purely in the background of the game (such as Bill and Frank’s story) while retaining the strides achieved by the original game. That first episode? It contains much of the game’s opening moments and it’s damn near perfect.
The Last of Us is a game adaptation that’ll not only act as a high watermark for all those to follow but also hopefully a siren call to the entire industry to handle video game intellectual property with care.
It also gets a gamer thinking: what else is out there that is just itching to get similar treatment?
It’s a game series that hasn’t aged well, yet the original game, released on the Sony PlayStation back in 1998, has become a cult classic among fans of survival horror. Parasite Eve plays like a cross between Resident Evil and a role-playing game; like the synergy of game mechanics, the modern-day New York City setting, and focus on mature themes at a time when video games were still thought of as “games” and not deep experiences cemented the title in many a gamer’s mind as unique and original.
Based on the novel of the same name by Hideaki Sena, Parasite Eve tells the story of a police officer named Aya Brea who must figure out why so many people are spontaneously combusting. The unexplainable here is masterfully woven into the human cell structure, pointing to mitochondria. It’s a game that would lend itself remarkably well to another medium, especially since it has unfortunately laid dormant and underused by Square Enix for so long. And no, the 3rd Birthday was not a sufficient “sequel.”
This indie game seemingly came out of nowhere to become a standout game of last year. The gameplay itself is your usual point and click variety, the player seeking out clues through dialogue chains while also solving puzzles. The premise involves protagonist Kay returning to her hometown of Norco, Louisiana after her brother goes missing and her mom dies.
Among the many narrative threads fueling the game, there’s one involving a cult that uses social media as its influence, the looming threat of ecological disaster, and the town of Norco itself, which like an increasing number of American towns, has seen better days and is dying a slow death. The game has enough narrative depth and just so much to offer the prospective viewer, it could become akin to a cross between Mindhunter and Twin Peaks to become a methodical mystery laced with the game’s surrealistic undertones.
If anyone remembers this PlayStation2/Xbox game by Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption developer Rockstar, you’ll probably think this one is a far cry from not only seeing a new game but also being adapted into another medium. But hear me out! Manhunt is peak profane, like taking Se7en and 8mm and adding in a few extra layers of horror.
The premise is quite simple: A prisoner sentenced to a death sentence, James Earl Cash is swiped by men and driven to a menacing local, Carcer City, where the Director, who specializes in snuff films, has set up a broad film set full of heinous violence among gang members eager to end Cash’s life. The game was full of atmosphere and tension, with Brian Cox as the Director issuing commands like a director does, it still holds up as quite a horrific experience. To see it adapted into a TV series would be like imagining Running Man retooled and made with a much darker recipe. One could see a film auteur like Nicholas Winding Refn or Harmony Korine doing the game justice.
Silent Hill 4: The Room
The recently announced slew of new games and a Silent Hill 2-focused film adaptation by the original Silent Hill director Christopher Gans makes this one equally more likely and less likely than any other title on this list. Silent Hill 4: The Room is the real oddity of the original four games in the series, not only because it technically doesn’t take place in Silent Hill but also because its gameplay is, at times, way too obtuse.
Henry Townshend wakes up in his apartment only to realize that he’s been locked inside by an impossible web of chains and locks. A hole opens up in his bathroom that sends him into odd nightmare worlds that turn out to be the product of another person’s nightmares. Yes, it’s real nightmare fuel. Add in a serial killer named Walter Sullivan and a heavy dose of claustrophobia and the storyline alone has more than enough to create a show that grips viewers and unsettles them, particularly in our almost post-pandemic moment.
Similar to Parasite Eve, Fear Effect is a game series that rose to moderate attention during the original Sony PlayStation’s lifecycle. Identical to Parasite Eve, the series has languished with a lone release on modern platforms (Fear Effect Sedna) that pales in comparison to the original game and it’s sequel Retro Helix. The game oozes in style; taking place in a pseudo cyberpunk future 2050 Hong Kong, protagonist Hana Tsu-Vachel is tasked with finding and securing the missing daughter of a triad crime lord.
What made the game so refreshing and dark was how it unabashedly exposed a criminal world full of vice. Coupled with elements of the supernatural, Fear Effect was one of those action-focused horror titles that left a mark because of Hana’s infectious personality and a vicious future Hong Kong that made a person question if a brighter future was really what we were getting. As an adaptation, Fear Effect would likely take what was ahead of its time—all the themes and grim details—and translate itself into a deadlier Cyberpunk, a dripping with style and grit adaptation starring a strong, charismatic antihero that proves when it comes to people there are rarely any pure heroes or villains.