Rock Paper Shotgun: Best Games Based On Books

Books! They’re like films without pictures, or games that are all cutscene. Old people and hipsters really like them, teenagers think they’re like totally lame, and quite frankly we should all read more of them. There are countless games inspired by books – most especially Tolkien, Lovecraft and early Dungeons & Dragon fiction – but surprisingly few games based directly on books. Even fewer good ones.

Perhaps one of the reasons for that is that a game can, in theory, cleave closer to what a book does than a film can – with their length and their word counts, their dozens of characters and in some cases even their own in-game books, they can to some degree do the job of a novel.

I’ve always loved how you can play through a story, it’s so much more immersive than a movie. You have time to think as the character as you might in a book, and with games you get to be the character. When you gain skills, you feel as if you just got stronger. The game I am playing the most of right now is Dying Light and I really feel as if I have earned the abilities I now have. Being able to scale up a wall and leap up to grab a ledge, it changes the game. I no longer dread the giants with their huge chunks of concrete on rebar, I methodically pound away at them, leap away, check for runners and go right back at him again watching for when he starts to raise his arms… but back to the books!

10. Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth – This is an older one and I think I last played several years ago. Built on one of the valve engines (HL2?) it plays out gradually. You inspect, you talk, you are suddenly running from misshapen brutes as they smash through your door… it uses the medium as a mechanism to tell the story, and I agree with this one being on the list.

9. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – text based adventure. I haven’t played this one, but the author includes this helpful link with retrospective from his “better half”.

8. Metro 2033 – A wonderful lesson in keeping up on the world of gaming, I purchased the two games JUST before the redux was available. Luckily I hadn’t played them yet, so I was able to hop right into the HD quality version instead. I’ve gotten about halfway through and it’s intense, and hard. Necessary spoiler. The first fight has a weapon in the first room. you don’t actually have to pummel them with your fists. Thanks product support! They offered this little hint after I wrote them a mystified email about how anyone can be expected to get anywhere in their insanely difficult title. Once I looked… there it was!

7. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 Gold – numbers numbers numbers, Tom Clancy, CIA, red team go, red team go! I played SWAT, maybe even up to SWAT 3 but I lost my enthusiasm with Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. I remember my friend being very excited for Vegas, but he is very good at these types of games. Needless to say I have very little to say on this one because I neither read the books, nor play the games anymore.

6. Betrayal At Krondor — nope, I got nothin.

5. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West – nope, don’t remember ever even hearing of this one.

4. Angband – nope.

3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – I went back and attempted #1 on the laptop since it didn’t want to work on the modern machine without millions of graphical glitches. GOG hadn’t quite gotten their DOSBox working with Win10 as of when I tried it maybe it was the Nvidia drivers because the laptop also has 10 but it has an intel onboard.

I started 2, but didn’t really get very far through it. It’s on my list to play through and I’ve been in no hurry to pick up 3 – especially with DLCs still coming out. I’d rather wait it out and pick up the ultimate edition with everything built in once that a) comes out, and b) goes on sale.

2. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Another Russian novel, another Russian game (see Metro 2033 above) performance issues with the first version caused me to have a frustrating time with this one. I still put in about 12 hours or so, also on my list to go back to.

1. Dune II ?! Dune II?!! C’mon, I question your gamer-tag over your hipster-tag. There are so many other RTS titles I would pick over this, and would never include on the list. Hitchhikers Guide is one thing, because… Douglas Adams! But you’ve got to be kidding me with this one.

I’ll just have to find some more games based on books and make some replacements to this list at a later date.

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