5 games that would make for watchable TV dramas like The Last of Us
Video game characters have had a very difficult time making the leap to other mediums. It all started when someone tried to reverse Nintendo’s flagship game Super Mario Bros. into a film in 1993. The first Super Mario Bros. the movie failed so spectacularly to capture the spirit of the game in a workable script that Nintendo has been afraid to make another movie ever since. You know someone is really bad when they can scare a company that owns part of your childhood.
Now we live in a world where games are often better at creating stories and characters than most regular movies and series. Sony’s The last of us, a dark, dramatic, post-apocalyptic tale of a grieving father tasked with protecting a girl whose immunity may lead to the cure for a zombie-like viral outbreak, may be the first successful attempt to bring a video game into a dramatic film or series . HBO will premiere the new series based on the game on Sunday, January 15.
The central figures are broken characters who must depend on each other because they have no one else, and the emotions of this bizarre relationship play out in believable, real and even touching ways. honest to god, The last of us is the first game that made us cry and care about characters who are more than just pixelated cannon fodder.
If HBO’s attempt to adapt a game into a series is as successful as the internet hopes it will be, it could lead to more heavy dramas based on game franchises. We humbly suggest the following as candidates.
1. Alan Wake
Remedy’s popular psychological horror game is a brilliant concept that tackled a genre no one in the gaming industry was willing to try.
The game’s title character is a popular horror writer who travels to a small town in the Northwest to escape his struggles with the world’s worst case of writer’s block. A supernatural force kidnaps his wife, and the stories he writes seem to infect the world around him as a force he calls “The Darkness” tries to end him and wipe out the light.
Dark themes are nothing new to video games, however Alan Wake was the first to take the concept of a psychological thriller and turn it into a third-person shooter. The townspeople known as The Taken are engulfed by a possessive force, and Alan must clear the darkness from them with flashlights and torches and blast his way through. It’s tense, exciting and challenging, and the right writer and director can do something amazing with a narrative form inspired by the game.
If someone suggests it Alan Wake should get the TV drama treatment, it’s only fair that Remedy’s other insane sci-fi/horror adventure gets the same chance.
Control is very difficult to describe, and that fact alone makes it an exciting narrative concept. The main character, Jesse Faden, lost her brother to a mysterious force that drives her to become the head of an American agency called the Federal Bureau of Control. The FBC is responsible for investigating and preventing the fragile fabric of time and existence from breaking. The entire game takes place (or does it?) in the agency’s minimalist headquarters known as “The Oldest House”, as a force called The Hiss starts a war on our plane of existence. Check the story weaves in so many inventive and surprising ways that no description can do it justice. You just have to jump in and let its ethereal surrealism take you somewhere you’ve never been.
Control would make an addictive, dissectable series. It could explore Nietzsche-ian themes of human frailty and consciousness with an adventurous, action-packed narrative. Imagine David Lynch’s Twin Peaks if Agent Cooper wasn’t afraid to rely on gunfire to solve problems and cases.
3. Max Payne
We know you’ll want to scroll down to the comments section or jump on Facebook to the post sharing the link to this feature so you can announce, “Hollywood already made a Max Payne movie, stupid!” First of all, enough with the name. It’s cheap, easy and won’t help you win any arguments…stupid.
Second, we know that Hollywood tried and failed to turn Rockstar Games and 3D Realms’ gritty, mob revenge tale into a viable movie in 2008 with Mark Wahlberg. The big screen the movie didn’t come close to recreating the big, dark, thick story from the game of the same name featuring a depressed, chain-smoking cop whose tragic personal losses fuel his ruthless drive to bring down a drug-financed New York mob family. . Precisely for this reason it deserves a trip on the small screen.
Payne’s story may sound like a bleak time in front of a TV than one Black mirror marathon, but the success of dramatic tragedies such as Breaking Bad and You should call Saul shows that it can inspire a great noir crime in the style of a John Woo action movie, if it’s in the right hands. Do we even need to point out the perfect coincidence that Vince Gilligan just ended another great run with Better call Saul perfect last season and need another project to take on TV? We couldn’t give a bigger hint if we tied it to a safe and dropped it on your head.
This underwater first-person shooter had a lot to say about monarchies, unchecked aggression, and the madness that ensues when all a person cares about is how much power they can amass for themselves.
This 2K Games title takes place in an underwater utopia known as Rapture run by a megalomaniac business magnate named Andrew Ryan. He discovers a substance known as ADAM that transforms human DNA into a powerful weapon, using plasmids to give people the ability to throw fire, summon swarms of stinging insects, and even hack electronic systems. Ryan refuses to play nice with the rest of society and builds his own underwater city where protagonist Jack finds himself following a shipwreck. As the city decays and its citizens brutalize each other for whatever ADAM they can steal from possessed girls known as the Little Sisters (who are guarded by giant diving monsters called Big Daddies), Jack is tasked with rescuing the girls while giving players opportunities to just be selfish even at the risk of human sacrifice.
A TV version of BioShock could have a lot of fun playing out a cautionary tale about unchecked power and the dangers of human aggression in an episodic format. Imagine a story written by Ayn Rand with more self-awareness and less Drake-esque levels of “Fuck you, I got my own” in the characters, and you’ve got the makings of a great show.
5. Maniac mansion
Lucasarts Games released one of the first popular point-and-click adventure stories in the 1980s on the Commodore 64 and Apple II with this comic horror story about a group of stereotypical teenagers rescuing a friend kidnapped by a mad scientist and his strange family.
Maniac mansion got a TV adaptation in the ’90s with SCTV alum Joe Flaherty in the title role, but it played more like a family-friendly sitcom that only shared a name with the game’s wacky family. Therefore, it should be given another shot as a tongue-in-cheek drama.
The original Maniac mansion is a puzzle game at its core, but it’s also full of danger and has a wicked sense of humor. A more dramatic version that retains the game’s signature elements and sense of fun could also turn an epic rescue tale into an episodic adventure in the vein of Netflix Wednesday did with The Addams Family.