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Video Games HBO Should Adapt Like The Last of Us

Making sure The Last of Us isn’t the last of them.



HBO video game adaptations

5 Other Games HBO Should Adapt

If you’ve been living under a rock, HBO’s The Last of Us has spent most of 2023 re-writing what a game-to-screen adaption can look like. Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have created a work that effortlessly captures the look, tone, and heart of the game while still taking creative risks to expand on the established material in meaningful ways. In short, most fans and critics would agree that The Last of Us tv series has worked. And now, many fans and critics are wondering what’s coming next.

If the critical and commercial success of The Last of Us is anything to go by, then there’s a good chance HBO is going to want to pluck something else from the gaming basket down the line. To help them decide – because, surely, the top executives at HBO could use our advice – here are five other gaming series that would make a good fit for them to adapt into a tv show. These choices aren’t necessarily the most popular, and some of them already have screen adaptations in the works that may or may not come to fruition, but they could all benefit from being put through the HBO machine and could potentially be the next big thing once The Last of Us has reached its end.

Jin from Ghost of Tsushima - HBO video game adaptations
Image: Sucker Punch Productions

1. Ghost of Tsushima

If we’re looking at other PlayStation IPs that HBO could turn into a show, then Ghost of Tsushima makes a strong case for itself. Sucker Punch already did such a brilliant job creating the world and atmosphere of a semi-fictional medieval Japan that you can’t help but wonder what the best minds at HBO could do when given the same assignment.

And then there’s what they could do with the action. HBO has always had some of the best action choreographers in the business, and to see them translate the sword-clashing samurai duels from Ghost of Tsushima onto the small screen would be a spectacle to behold. The game also has a strong cast of characters and a powerful storyline about resistance and fighting for a common purpose that, if given to the appropriate writers, could make for some gripping television.

Lighthouse from Bioshock - HBO video game adaptations
Image: 2K Games

2. Bioshock

Would you kindly make that Bioshock screen adaption everyone’s wanted for the past 15 years? Netflix may be the latest company to try and adapt this cerebral first-person shooter from Ken Levine, but until that work finally drops, we’re going to keep our options open and hypothesize what HBO could do with the property.

With the right director, writers, cinematographers, and (perhaps most importantly) set designers, the world of Rapture in a tv show could suck us all in once again with its wonderfully surreal premise, topical political commentary, and horrifying darker themes. Granted, it would be difficult to pull off that twist in a show, given how much it relies on subverting what it means to have agency as someone playing a video game. But… we’re not here to solve every problem for HBO. We’re just giving them top-class ideas and letting them figure out the rest.

We do recommend that the same person who designed the Bloater suit in The Last of Us creates the Big Daddy outfit in Bioshock. But that’s enough free advice!

Scene from Undertale
Image: Toby Fox

3. Undertale

Undertales strange mix of humour, heart and constant subversion would make it a tricky prospect for an HBO showrunner. After all, Undertale constantly breaks the rules about what we expect a video game to be while never losing sight of its central message on self-discovery in a morally ambiguous world. Seamlessly bringing all those ideas and tones into a tv show without it completely falling off the rails is no easy feat. But it would be pretty cool if they pulled it off.

An Undertale show would need to pick away at the fabrics of the television medium in the same clever and mind-bending ways that the game does for its form. HBO would need to be smart with their fourth wall breaks and somehow make the viewer feel responsible for the events in the show – whether those events are peaceful, destructive, or somewhere in between. Again, not easy in the slightest, but if they stick the landing, it would be clever. Verrrryyy clever.

Opening of Suikoden II
Image: Konami

4. Suikoden

Suikoden is an old JRPG series about a politically-charged fantasy world filled with a large ensemble cast of characters constantly walking the moral line between what is necessary and what is right. Sound familiar?

If HBO were to bring together the Game of Thrones team to create a Suikoden series, then the results could be something quite special. Most fans would agree that the first two games are the strongest, with Suikoden II, in particular, being lauded for containing one of the genre’s richest stories. And with the upcoming remakes hopefully coming out this year, HBO could capitalize on the series’ getting a new lease on life with a television adaptation that captures what we love about the games so much. Although it should probably cut down on the sizeable character list just a bit.

Dubai in Spec Ops: The Line - HBO video game adaptations
Image: 2K Games

5. Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is as gritty as they come. The game turned heads back in 2012 for its unapologetic depiction of war crimes, military invasions, and morally ambiguous characters. It’s not an easy play, and a HBO series would not be an easy watch. But just like the game, it could be a necessary one.

HBO are no strangers to making tv shows that tackle difficult topics that most other networks would rather leave alone, so if anyone were ever to have a go at a Spec Ops: The Line series, it would be them. While it would certainly be confronting to watch, it could also prove to be one of the most impactful game-to-screen adaptations.

Well, HBO, the ball’s now in your court. Whether you take any of these suggestions or not, if The Last of Us has taught us anything, we can take confidence in your ability to translate the essence of a game into a very worthy television show. If you want to do the same with any of these games, we won’t be complaining.

Harry's friends got sick of him talking about video games all the time, so he decided to write about them online. When Harry isn't cosied up with a good fantasy novel, chances are he'll be grinding his way through a JRPG or obsessively backtracking through a metroidvania.