It’s safe to say that most gamers are aware that series like The Witcher, Metro, and STALKER were inspired by literary works. In fact, there are many more such examples in the industry than it might seem at first glance. Below we will talk about some of them.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six (1998)
Seeing the prefix “Tom Clancy’s” in the title of the next Ubisoft game, many players probably imagine Tom Clancy as a prolific game designer who likes to remind himself of his authorship by putting his name in the title of the title, as American McGee does.
In fact, who died in October 2013, Clancy was a successful writer who rose to prominence in the late 80s and sold over 100 million copies of his Cold War alternate history techno-thrillers.
In 1996, Clancy founded the video game studio Red Storm Entertainment, whose tactical shooter Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six retells the events of the author’s novel of the same name, which tells about the actions of a secret military unit Rainbow Six.
The game caught the attention of the industry, and after the release of the sequel Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear, the studio was acquired by Ubisoft. By that time, the development of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon had already begun.
Ubisoft continued to use Tom Clancy’s name in the Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, HAWX, EndWar, and later The Division line names. However, the extent of the writer’s involvement in the development of all these franchises is not fully known. In 2008, Ubisoft bought out the rights to use his name in full.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010)
After releasing their rather successful slasher game Heavenly Sword, Ninja Theory decided not to make a game, but a CGI movie as their next project. Looking for ideas, the studio’s chief game designer, Tamim Antoniades, was researching the mustache Chinese fantasy genre when he came across the 16th-century work Journey to the West.
According to the plot of the book, the monk Xuanzang must reach India in order to find Buddhist scriptures. In this matter, he can not do without the help of the Monkey King, half-man, half-pig and horse-dragon.
When it became clear that Hollywood was not interested in an animated film from Ninja Theory, the studio began to implement their ideas in the form of the game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for PS3 and Xbox 360. The title received positive reviews from critics, and in 2013 a version was released for PC.
From the very beginning, Ninja theory planned to take from the work only the image of an epic journey, and not copy the plot of the book. Screenwriter Alex Garland, best known for 28 Days Later and The Beach, was brought in to develop the game in a post-apocalyptic future, replacing magic with elements of science fiction. The Monkey King has turned into a warrior “Monkey”, who must help the hacker girl Trip get to her village through the destroyed New York. By the way, the voice of “Munky” was given by the notorious actor Andy Serkis.
Spec Ops: The Line (2012)
At first glance, Spec Ops: The Line may seem like an unremarkable military shooter, the gameplay of which has nothing to surprise fans of this genre. However, the developers from Yager Development decided to bet on a narrative and plot that discusses the horrors of war on behalf of the participants in the conflict themselves.
The script for Spec Ops: The Line is based on the 1899 book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which was also used by director Francis Ford Coppola when writing Apocalypse Now. However, if Conrad’s story depicted Africa at the end of the 19th century and reflected on the topic of racism and the colonial regime, then Spec Ops: The Line takes place in the United Arab Emirates of the present day.
Delta Group Captain Martin Walker is assigned to track down the missing battalion in Dubai, led by Colonel John Conrad. Upon arrival, the protagonist’s team will have to face not only local bandits, but also confront members of the wanted battalion, as well as a CIA agent trying to cover up the traces of the crimes of the American army in a foreign country. All this slowly but surely drives Walker crazy as the game progresses, changes his views on what is happening around him, and prepares the player for an unexpected ending.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1995)
One of the most prolific and controversial writers of short fiction, Harlan Ellison, is best known for “I Have No Mouth, But I Must Scream.” In it, Allison tells the story of a supercomputer that has gone out of control and caused the genocide of all mankind. At the same time, he left five people alive and mocked them for more than a hundred years out of a sense of revenge on his creators.
The story was published in 1967, and almost thirty years later, The Dreamers Guild developed a point-and-click game based on it. Ellison not only took part in writing the script, but also supplemented the original work with a backstory.
As for the game itself, it is worth highlighting some non-linearity of the plot. Each of the five characters at certain moments faces a choice that determines the ending of the game.
Parasite Eve (1996)
Unlike other representatives of today’s list, the horror Parasite Eve is not just based on the work of the same name by Japanese writer Hideaki Sena, but is its canonical sequel.
Sena earned a PhD in pharmacology, but at some point decided to fulfill his writing ambitions by combining his love of the horror genre with what he was best at. His story about the mitochondrion Eve, who decided to replace humanity with creatures capable of changing their genetic code on the spot, was published in 1995 and brought the author the Japan Horror Novel Award. Offers from film studios and publishers of video games were not long in coming.
In the game Parasite Eve, which continues the events of the book, the player takes on the role of police officer Aya Breya, who must prevent Eve from realizing her plans. The developers from Square skillfully combined survival horror with RPG elements and offered players an exciting gameplay. Until now, Parasite Eve is considered one of the benchmarks of early horror, along with Resident Evil and Silent Hill.
American McGee’s Alice (2000)
As we know, Alice from the fairy tales of Lewis Carroll had an excellent imagination, thanks to which she arranged unforgettable adventures for herself. Known for his unconventional ideas in game design, American McGee once asked the question: what will happen to Wonderland if Alice spends several years in a mental hospital, miraculously surviving a fire that claimed the lives of her parents? In what form will the viewer see the imagination of an 18-year-old heroine with a deep psychological trauma?
McGee offered his version of the answer to these questions in December 2000, when he released American McGee’s Alice. Although the arcade gameplay with platforming elements did not seek to surprise the audience, critics appreciated McGee’s sense of humor and his interesting take on the classic.
In 2011, the sequel Alice: Madness Returns was released, which, according to McGee, he did not have enough time to finalize. Perhaps in the upcoming Alice: Asylum, the game designer will do everything he has planned, but the game will not be released until 2021.
Dante’s Inferno (2010)
As the name suggests, Visceral Games’ hack and slash game is an interactive interpretation of the most famous work of the 13th-14th century poet Dante Alighieri called “The Divine Comedy”, one of which is called “Inferno” (“Inferno”).
Although an interesting idea, Dante’s Inferno was not a hit, given rather lukewarm reviews, which included comparisons to God of War, as well as complaints about the monotonous gameplay inherent in the genre.
It’s another matter that the title is still remembered today for its insane advertising campaign in 2009, which included a non-existent religious game with cross-shaped controllers, calls for an act of debauchery at a game exhibition, and fake Christian pickets.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (2005)
Despite the fact that the game borrowed its name from the famous story of the horror king Howard Lovecraft called “The Call of Cthulhu”, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth itself builds the plot from several other works of the writer, but most of all takes from “The Shadow over Innsmouth” .
The story of detective Jack Walters, who arrives in the port town of Innsmouth to investigate a robbery, and eventually learns the secret of the union of local residents with an underwater race of fish frogs.
Moreover, Headfirst Productions followed the style of Lovecraftian horror and did not try to make Walters a typical first-person action hero, discarding any monsters with one blow. On the contrary, the player had to save every shot and often felt completely helpless. In addition, the game turned out to be filled with bugs to the eyeballs, which finally scared the audience away.
Game designer Ken Levine based the setting of his biggest hit Bioshock on ideas described in Ayn Rand’s books such as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
Rand in her works proposed the philosophy of objectivism, which is based on a society, each member of which owes nothing to another.
Andrew Ryan, one of the main characters in Bioshock, had similar views on society. Ryan built his own personal underwater utopia, naming it “Rapture”, and later watched as all his ideals brought the world of his dreams to decay.
Levine didn’t borrow the plot from Rand, but used Bioshock to speculate where the writer’s objectivism might lead. However, in Bioshock you can find enough references to her works. Smuggler Frank Fontaine is apparently named after The Fountainhead, posters for “Who is Atlas?” refer to the main phrase of the book “Atlas Shrugged”, “Who is John Galt”, and the name of Andrew Ryan is collected from the name of Ayn Rand herself.
The first Assassins Creed was inspired by a line from Vladimir Bartol’s Alamut: “Nothing is true – everything is permitted.” The plot of the Dynasty Warriors series is based on the Chinese historical chronicles “Records of the Three Kingdoms”, and The Binding of Isaac by Edmund McMillen is imbued with biblical stories. Although perhaps not the most current format, books will always be a great source of inspiration for developers when creating a setting or scenario in games of various genres.