Video games take inspiration from any number of sources. Anime, movies, television shows—they’ve all been used to create games. However, novels seem to be the one source lacking in games based on them. There are more out there than most gamers realize, but still not as many as, say, movies. If you are looking for some great games based on books, though, here are a few to start with. There are many others out there, but these five are worth checking out.
This game boasts the fact that the writer of the source material worked on the game itself. Harlan Ellison wrote the original story and helped with the game. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is set in the future after humans have created super computers. One such computer, called AM (voiced by Ellison in the game), becomes sentient and hates humans. AM destroys the world, keeping a few humans alive to torture them for its own amusement.
The game diverges from the original story pretty strongly, but keeps the spirit of it alive. It is a point-and-click adventure game where you have to play a different level with each of the characters, helping them to overcome their torment. Both the game and the story are very grim, dealing with a lot of heavy themes. In short: neither are for people who can’t handle more than a little darkness.
That being said, for point-and-click fans, sci-fi fans, and those who like compelling stories, this game might just be for you.
Most people are aware of Alice: Madness Returns, though fewer seem to be aware of the first game. American McGee’s Alice is set after both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Alice’s parents have died and she is severely depressed as a direct result. Due to Alice’s connection to Wonderland, it also shifts and changes with her own mental state. The plot is not directly based on either of the Alice stories, however, the world itself is shockingly true to the source material. It may be even more twisted, gory, and corrupt, but the original aspects still shine through.
I picked this game instead of the follow-up mostly because fewer people are aware of it. The controls can be slightly frustrating, but otherwise, it was a great game that has aged fairly well. The second is better in looks and control, but I feel this one is better in overall plot. It feels more connected to the Lewis Carroll stories.
Dark Corners of the Earth is kind of a mishmash of many different things from the H.P. Lovecraft mythos, though focusing most heavily on Call of Cthulhu. While on your journey in this game, you will run across creatures, characters, and locations from various Lovecraft stories. In addition to being filled with treats for Lovecraft fans, it’s a solid horror game. It’s aged a bit over the years, but not too terribly.
It was one of the first games to utilize an insanity meter, and it comes with a variety of puzzles and challenges while also managing to be both entertaining and suspenseful. If you aren’t already a Lovecraft fan, this might convince you to try him out. If you are, then you’ll see lots of things in this game worth being excited about.
“Game” might be a stretch for The Dark Eye. It’s more like a movie in which you can move around. Nonetheless, it is a video game and an interesting an experience. You move through three different Edgar Allan Poe stories. Some freedom is taken with the plot of the stories in order to help them flow, but otherwise, you will see and know what you are experiencing. Poe fans and horror fans will enjoy this game.
Parasite Eve is less “based on” a novel and more a sequel to one. It’s really the sequel to the novel of the same name. You don’t have to have read the novel to understand what happens in the game—in fact, many American fans are unaware of the novel’s existence. The game is sort of a stand-alone sequel, but takes inspiration and plot devices from the novel itself. It has since spun off into a franchise with many different sources (anime, manga, and more games). I decided to include it in the list, though, because at the time of its creation, only the novel and the game were available. The idea of making a sequel to a novel in game format is interesting to say the least. Sadly, I have not read the novel personally, but the game is great, and I’ve heard the novel itself does not disappoint.
So if you have some free time, crack open a book, then give yourself a game to experience after. Both the games and the stories they are based on should give you hours of entertainment.