From The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt through to the likes of Discworld and Metro Exodus, some of the best video games you could ever hope to play have been based on books. We’ve decided to adjust our reading glasses and take a closer look at a selection of books that were turned into really rather good video games.
Based on Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian sword and sorcery tales, Funcom’s sword swinging, monster mashing, survival MMO does a grand job of encapsulating the stark and brutal world that Howard envisioned when the first Conan the Barbarian story went to press all the way back in 1950.
Cast out into a savage, unforgiving world, Conan Exiles has players first learning how to keep themselves alive in one of the most hostile video game sandboxes ever constructed before working out how to craft, fight and build an empire to stand the test of time in order to lay waste to their enemies and other players. Y’know – just like a real barbarian would do.
A traditional point and click adventure, Discworld is based on the titular comedy fantasy novels by the late and very great Terry Pratchett. Somewhat based on Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! Discworld story, the game tasks players with preventing a rampaging dragon from destroying the fantastical city of Ankh-Morpork by collecting items, solving puzzles and speaking to all manner of colourful (and often frightfully nutty) characters.
With longtime Discworld protagonist Rincewind voiced by Monty Python mainstay Eric Idle and boasting much of the whip smart comedy and dialogue that made the source material so compelling in the first place, Discworld is well worth tracking down.
Written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Metro novels depicted a post-apocalyptic hellscape in which a group of survivors attempt to survive within the confines of the Moscow Metro subway system. Obviously representing perfect video game material, Ukrainian developer 4A Studios has since adapted no less than three first person shooter efforts from the Metro novels.
The latest of these, Metro Exodus, is a stunning affair that not only deftly evokes the tense, post-apocalyptic vibes of the novels but also fashions a truly terrifying survival horror shooter in the process too.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments
Arguably one of the best Sherlock Holmes games ever made, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments does ample justice to Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary super-sleuth. With six very different cases to solve, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments excels in making players feel just like the pride of Baker Street, allowing them full access to Sherlock’s range of forensic detective skills and cheeky sense of humour.
Whether you’re researching old journals, leveraging powers of deduction at a crime scene, performing an interrogation or using Sherlock’s uncanny insight to pick out the smallest incriminating detail on a suspect’s appearance, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments does justice to its world famous source material with aplomb.
Spec Ops: The Line
Loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s 1899 fictional classic Heart of Darkness and much like later movies such as 1979’s Apocalypse Now and more recently, 2019’s Ad Astra, third-person shooter Spec Ops: The Line uses the basis of Conrad’s story to shape its narrative (it’s no coincidence that the main antagonist has the name ‘John Konrad). Like Heart of Darkness itself, Spec Ops: The Line mediates heavily on the human condition and specifically how, as we become further removed from civilization both physically and emotionally, the pull of our more base and savage instincts becomes irresistible.
With its post-apocalyptic Dubai setting, extremely intense story beats and superlative cover shooter gameplay, it’s no surprise that Spec Ops: The Line boasts a sizable following to say the least.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
CD Projekt RED’s sprawling open world RPG epic wasn’t created in vacuum. Based on the Witcher fantasy books authored by Polish scribe Andrzej Sapkowski, the Witcher games have done a fantastic job of bringing Sapkowski’s dark fantasy epic into the medium of video games and nowhere is this more evident than in the most recent Witcher title, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
An absolutely stonking adventure with sweep and spectacle to spare, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a beautifully scripted, enduringly attractive and endlessly deep open world RPG that you’ll never want to end.
No matter how you slice it, the world of literature is a fecund field for video game inspiration. For your next game purchase, why not fill out your catalogue with a copy of Spec Ops: The Line and experience a game that explores game narratives in a way you’ve never seen before.