The divide between video games and cinema has been narrowing since game developers started using cinematic storytelling to convey a riveting tale. With the dawn of the most recent console generation (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) and the perpetual advancement of PC hardware (powerful processors, graphics cards, etc.), that gap has shifted even closer.
Unfortunately, the history of video games translated into feature films has been a bleak one at best, as most film adaptations of video game worlds, characters, and overall stories tend to stray too far from their original concepts and iterations fans love. However, there are some gems in the heap, glistening in the darkness—such as Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft—and while those gems are not without their flaws, they do keep hope alive for the potential of other video game film adaptations.
Thus, the following list suggests five video games that should be made into feature films.
5) Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is a single-player adventure game developed by Infinite Fall and published by Finji. The game places a compelling emphasis on storytelling, exploration, and world building, allowing players to learn more about the world through interaction with non-essential NPCs. However, the title’s handling of psychological themes is what permits it to stand out.
According to fellow Goomba Stomp author, Katharine Booth, Night in the Woods “does a great job setting up an intriguing premise without revealing [or] explaining everything at once—thus driving the player’s curiosity to progress through the game. This [also holds true] for the player-controlled [character] (Mae)—why did she suddenly drop out of college and return home? There are hints that ‘something happened,’ and hints about possible mental illness on Mae’s part, but [gamers] play through the game and bit-by-bit the story unfolds. This… gets interesting with Mae’s surreal nightmare scenes.”
With the popularity of thrillers akin to American Psycho, The Machinist, Black Swan, Memento, and more, a cinematic adaptation of Night in the Woods could blend the world building elements of the game with the critical implications of psychological concepts. Thus, a film adaptation could take beloved, albeit niche, video games and convey the conflicts of collegiate young adults as they struggle to make sense of the world around them.
The Metroid franchise of video games debuted in 1986 and features fast-paced combat with futuristic technology in a science fiction environment. Samus Aran, the franchise’s main protagonist, wears the famed Power Suit and uses a wide range of weapons to combat her enemies, often complemented by her agility and acrobatic stunts to keep her foes guessing while she gains the upper hand.
Science fiction rivets vast audiences, gripping them with intellectual concepts and expanding upon them to the point of requiring the suspension of disbelief. However, putting that disbelief on hold allows viewers (gamers) to immerse themselves in the action-packed frenzies offered by sci-fi films and video games.
The Metroid universe is ripe for exploration, with endless opportunities to provide captivating narratives through intriguing characters and intense action scenes. Seeing such an iconic franchise adapted to the big screen would see its loyal following flock to theaters (or their couch due to streaming services) to witness the glory of devastation unleashed by Samus. As she puts her famous Power Suit through its paces while protecting the universe from the sinister evil-doers who would seek to provoke chaos, Metroid’s fearless protagonist would be a welcome cure for boredom.
3) Metal Gear
Metal Gear is a franchise that has held stealth and action fans in its riveting but merciless grip since its debut in 1987. The franchise is most well-known for introducing gamers to Snake (Solid Snake, Naked Snake, etc.)—later known by his code name, Big Boss—a stoic operative who has mastered the arts of subterfuge, sabotage, and lethality.
As a series, the Metal Gear video games are famous for combining stealth gameplay with action-packed sequences, encouraging players to remain undetected while also knowing how to fight their way out of tight spots, often requiring both skills in equal measure. From lung-depleting moments of clandestine practices to jaw-dropping explosions, Metal Gear is a ripe opportunity for the film industry to portray Snake on the big screen.
A Metal Gear fan film titled Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy was produced in 2009 by a team of Italian students and filmmakers. The film was well-received by fans and Hideo Kojima, who is quoted thusly: “It’s awesome. I felt like crying for their love towards Metal Gear. It’s also a well-made movie. I can’t wait to see the next part.” Despite the relative success of the non-profit film, a more traditional cinematic experience in the Metal Gear universe would be an exciting gift to franchise loyalists.
With Hideo Kojima having expressed interest in wanting to make movies coupled with the opening of Kojima Productions to make the interactive, cinematic experience that is Death Stranding, and Metal Gear enthusiasts may yet receive the film adaptation they desire. Fortunately, Sony Interactive Entertainment—alongside Hideo Kojima and Arad Productions—has been working on a Metal Gear film since 2012, with Jay Basu writing the screenplay and Jordan Vogt-Roberts taking on the role of director. As of December 2019, the screenplay’s draft has been completed, but no cast members have been announced.
2) Gears of War
With unending gore accompanied by thrilling chases, gut-wrenching explosions, a near-constant hail of bullets, limb-severing chainsaw guns known as Lancers, and emotional roller coasters, Gears of War forced its way into Xbox players’ hearts in 2006. Following the combative exploits of Marcus Fenix and other COG soldiers, Gears of War takes players on a captivating warpath as they battle their way through hordes of mutant bugs during their quest to save humanity from extinction.
The video games’ savagery has a place in the hearts of fans who can’t get enough of the action genre. Gears of War is a prime series to capture the brutality of war as it splashes it on the big screen with enough suspension of disbelief to solidify its position in the realm of fiction.
During the journey, viewers will have to join their protagonists on emotional journeys as they learn to cope with the loss of beloved characters, and persevere towards their goals lest the human race fall victim to a ruthless adversary that wants nothing more than to see its prey’s annihilation.
Also, chainsaw guns.
1) God of War
One of a few titles that take Greek Mythology and blow it up in a video game world with sufficient authenticity and heart-pounding violence, God of War has been lauded with praise since its inception on the PlayStation 2 in 2005. With gods and goddesses, their armed servants, and mythical creatures sprinkled throughout, the franchise does a splendid job of giving life to the fantastical elements of Greek lore that has captivated historians for centuries.
The series follows Kratos, a Spartan warrior and servant of the God of War, Ares. After being tricked by Ares into killing his own family, Kratos embarks on a vengeful quest to annihilate him and the rest of the Olympian gods, culminating in Kratos assuming the God of War mantle before being cast out by Zeus, only to hunt down the father of Olympus himself.
As a series, God of War has everything: love, hate, blood, gore, vengeance, despair, hope, and redemption. The cast of characters and world showcase the complexities and beauties of Greek Mythology in a respectable fashion, despite taking some creative liberties along the way.
Seeing the franchise adapted into a film would be a boon for Sony, provided the company does the world they’ve created justice and stays true to the games’ and characters’ core. While a film adaptation was technically announced in 2005 and has received a finished screenplay with a budget of USD $150 million, as of December 2019, the film has no director, cast, or release date.