With The Last Of Us’s debut on HBO last night (January 15) following up Arcane, The Witcher and Lance Reddick’s bits in the otherwise so-so Resident Evil, TV adaptations of video games are in right now. It’s got to the point where that fabled video game curse is now looking more like superstition, from the same hordes of gamers that believed there was a naked Lara Croft cheat in the early Tomb Raider games.
With even HBO taking a crack at adapting video games, it’s impossible not to argue that there’s narrative gold for anyone smart enough to dig it up. Games are full of strong storylines, remarkable characters and bizarre worlds, so why wouldn’t you want to see some of the biggest and best on the small screen?
With that in mind, here’s a list of what they might want to adapt next. For the sake of our sanity, anything that’s already been adapted as a TV show already is out but movies are okay – especially if the adaptation in question wasn’t great.
Grim Fandango is screaming out for an adaptation. The 1998 adventure game is directed by Tim Schafer and is set in The Land Of The Dead, where protagonist Manny Calavera is a travel agent to the deceased, trying to find his place in the afterlife as he prepares for what comes next.
The rich world of Grim Fandango, which fuses film noir with the Aztec afterlife, is unique and would be a perfect fit for an animated series with an all-star cast. From the detailed world, the intricate story and the range of characters involved, it deserves a proper retelling for people who weren’t able to dive into a mid-90s adventure game.
Grim Fandango also comes in a format already perfect for a TV show. You see, Manny’s adventure plays out over four years as that’s the length of time everyone stays in The Land Of The Dead for, before passing over. Each in-game year has a distinct arc, so retell it over four seasons, and we’re there.
System Shock features a lone hacker waking up from cryosleep on a space station six months after removing the safeguards from a powerful AI…only to find that the AI has taken over the station and killed nearly everyone on board.
The System Shock TV show wouldn’t focus on that lone hacker though, but on the six months they are in cryo as the terrifying AI SHODAN manipulates the station and slowly seizes power. It’s hard to imagine this one running for multiple seasons, but the slow-burning tension as the station slowly falls under SHODANs influence and things gradually get worse and worse would make for a memorable and horrifying thriller.
If this sounds good, there’s a System Shock remake coming out later in 2023 and it’s really good. In a dream world, SHODAN would again be voiced by Terri Brosius.
Yes, there was a terrible Michael Fassbender effort but Assassin’s Creed, with its secret societies, historical settings and the weird sci-fi twist of the Animus, offers plenty of actual depth for people to plum.
A good Assassin’s Creed adaptation should take the form of an anthology show with each season dropping the main character into a different ancestor in the timeline. For the first season, we could see the series diving into Renaissance Italy or even Ancient Egypt. There’s a lot of freedom for storytelling, while a core group of people outside of the Animus play out an overarching storyline.
Get a quality choreographer, have a few phenomenal battles and then throw in a couple of hidden blade assassinations to make essential appointment TV.
Silent Hill 2
There have been Silent Hill movies before but none based on Silent Hill 2, which tells the story of a widower who journeys to the town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his dead wife informing him that she is waiting there for him. It’s the best one by far.
You see, something is very wrong with the town of Silent Hill. It’s in Maine, which is a shortcut for spooky all by itself, but add in the thick suffocating fog, the monsters and the giant man with a pyramid for a head that strolls around with a giant cleaver, and it’s a genuinely terrifying place to explore.
A story focusing on James Sutherland trying to find his once-dead wife and discovering just how he got this letter, in addition to exploring the alternate hell dimension that exists within the town, is a great basis for a show that could scare just about anyone.
What Remains Of Edith Finch
What Remains Of Edith Finch is a game about the curse that has befallen the Finch family, causing all of them to die in mysterious and bizarre circumstances. This could involve depression, suicide, murder by passing horror movie fans or even kiting accidents.
As a TV show, this is fertile ground for an anthology series. Each episode ends with a Finch dying, but in true Final Destination style it’s not the deaths that matter, it’s the ridiculous manner in which they occurs that’s the real draw.
Getting to meet the different Finch family members, knowing you’ll see each of them snuffed out over the series, will offer some tragic comedy to proceedings.
The adventures of scientist Gordon Freeman and the cataclysmic events that lead to the destruction of the Black Mesa secret science facility are now part of video game legend, but they would also be a fantastic basis for a TV show set in this science lab.
What if we followed characters through the entire science project before we faced the issues opened by the portal that deposited scores of hostile aliens all over the facility? How would that fight for survival look as a season finale of Half-Life?
Of course, if there’s demand for a second season, the resistance at the heart of Half-Life 2 is rich narrative fodder. The only issue is Gordon Freeman’s strict reluctance to say even a single word in the games that made him one of gaming’s finest FPS protagonists.
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