?On the whole, books generally don’t get made into videogames. If the book spurs a movie, then you might see something like The DaVinci Code come to the Xbox, but a straight pick-up from a novel? Very, very rarely.
It must have something to do with books requiring imagination, and videogames hating imagination, or some such.
Thankfully, Electronic Arts was able to take one of history’s classic tales, Dante’s The Divine Comedy, and turn it into a brutal beat-em-up full of gore, fire, torture, and vaginas that ate you. It was damn fun, even if it didn’t follow the book word for word (or line for line, or page for page, or hardly at all). So what other works of literature could and should get the same treatment? And I’m not talking about a by-the-numbers adventure game or puzzle solver. I mean a bloody, God of War-style action game where the protagonist cuts a violent swath of mayhem and destruction while tearing through classic world novels! And specifically, I mean these…
10) The Island of Dr. Moreau
?“Are we not men? NONE ESCAPE!!!!” When it comes to experimental vivisection, the game writes itself for you. Dr. Moreau is the big bad, of course, but you have an entire island of animal-human hybrids just waiting for you to decimate with a machete. All your major person-eating animals can be included, some with wings, some in the water, and your game is up and running on two legs. NOT four legs. Four legs bad.
9) The Three Musketeers
?You have a sword. You have a musket. That’s all you need to turn Paris from a city of lights to a city of sewers choked with blood. All the ancient parkour of Assassin’s Creed can be employed as you take d’Artagnan from one end of Paris to the other, slashing through hundreds of Cardinal Richelieu’s men to achieve….uh, glory or something. Maybe you’re out for revenge, or just maddened by your impending doom. Or maybe the Man in the Iron Mask is behind it all and you must make your way through the Bastille’s hordes of madmen and thugs to end him forever!
8) The Masque of Red Death
?One of the strengths of Dante’s Inferno is that the book itself is laid out in definite levels that one must pass to get to the end. Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death is the same way, with a rich man dividing his house into seven rooms of different colors for a party. During the party, a man dressed as a corpse passes through the rooms to slay the host in the final room, which is draped in black with red lighting. In the game, you could take on the role of the Red Death himself, the corpse-faced terror, and fight your way through the near-endless rooms of colorful cannon fodder. A 19th century masked vigilante!
7) The Monk
?Matthew Lewis’s book The Monk is a classic of the horror genre, almost as old as the United States. And it includes EVERYTHING. Ghosts, demons, the Devil, black magic, bleeding nuns, rapists, evil monks… it’s like someone went back in time and wrote the script to a videogame before there were metal boats or telephones. The plot jumps all over the place, but all you need to know is that there is a corrupt monk who’s controlled by the Devil and he’s all about rape, incest, and murder. Hide your wife, hide your kids, hide your husbands, because there’s some non-pious ass that needs to be kicked.
6) The Hunchback of Notre Dame
?To have a good slasher videogame, you need a decently likable protagonist who’s been wronged in some way, an evil organization pulling the strings, and hundreds of colorful people that need to be eviscerated. Yup, Victor Hugo’s novel has all of them in spades. Quasimodo has extraordinary leaping abilities, plus years of abuse and neglect to take out on the citizens of Paris. The book has colorful gypsies in wild costumes, as well as the French military and that old standby, the evil church. Hack, slash, ring some bells.
5) Les Miserables
?Victor Hugo makes awesome video games. Yes, I know there’s a Japanese fighting game based on Les Miserables, but it’s PVP, not “charge through the sewers of Paris, destroying all the soldiers, street rats, and sewer monsters in your path.” (Spoilers: sewer monsters not in the book) The whole novel is basically one man’s struggle against various things (the military, the police, the prisons, evil innkeepers, God), so why not make every problem solvable through violence? Jean Valjean knows how to kick ass and take names, even if he did miss out on his big fight scene with Javert because Javert pussied out and jumped off a bridge (not in the game he won’t). And besides, playing through 28 hours of gameplay will actually take you less time than reading the book.
4) Peter Pan
?Leave the safety of your nursery, fly off to a land with mermaids, fairies, Indians, and pirates, and no laws. You can side with Peter Pan and make the world safe for kids…or side with the pirates and exterminate the Lost Boys. Your codename is Wendy. Your weapons are knives as big as your leg. Your destiny…is yet to be written. Clap if you believe in murder, kids.
3) A Tale of Two Cities
?Set any video game during a period of time known as “The Terror” and you know it’s going to end in decapitations and mayhem. If you haven’t read the book, it’s a simple little romance set against the background of France going completely insane and killing everybody for silly things like whistling off-key. France was insane, but as crusading lawyer Sydney Carton, you have the chance to bring some justice to the streets. And much like Dante’s Inferno had the option of forgiving your enemies, you can choose to hack your enemies apart with a guillotine blade, or release them through the power of the law! Sadly, at the end you die, but it’s a far, far better thing you do…
2) The Solomon Kane Stories
?There’s a Kane movie coming out soon (already? eventually?) but as of yet, no word on a videogame adaptation. That’s fine, since Robert Howard’s stories (and the Marvel Comics based on them) are better than any film version could hope to be. An uber-religious hero is very similar to Dante’s Inferno‘s main character, and the melee/ranged weapon combo is too. But set it through the wilds of Africa and the small haunted towns of Europe, and it becomes a tad more realistic than a trip through hell. Kane can slay all the demons he wants as he travels the globe, but with a religious purity that mirrors Dante’s. Plus big Puritan hat with a buckle!
1) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
?Just fucking re-release American McGee’s Alice before the sequel makes it to shelves. Seriously, no one had a Mac when the first one came out.