Books and video games have a surprising amount of overlap — many beloved franchises, like Assassin’s Creed and Halo, have novelizations and expanded universe books to accompany their stories. This works the other way around, with titles like The Witcher drawing from the world and storylines of existing novel franchises.
However, there is a wealth of untapped potential for video games in novels, both current and past. Many acclaimed books could make for top-tier video games. This could be due to their evocative settings, detailed worldbuilding with many background storylines, or action-heavy storytelling that would translate well.
10 The Locked Tomb Mixes Necromancy And Hard-Hitting Storytelling
The Locked Tomb series, starting with Tamsyn Muir’s debut novel Gideon the Ninth, takes place in an unconventional science-fantasy setting. It combines futuristic technology like faster-than-light travel and space stations with necromancy magic at the heart of its worldbuilding. Most of The Locked Tomb‘s principal characters are necromancers or the sword-wielding warriors who accompany them.
The Locked Tomb‘s overarching storyline of a galactic war powered by necromancy could encompass dozens of video game stories that barely touch on the main books. Alternatively, titles like Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth could make for compelling games that emphasize storytelling and character dynamics over frequent combat.
9 The Dark Tower’s Questing And Fighting Spans Many Worlds
The Dark Tower is one of veteran author Stephen King’s most iconic stories. It’s a modern-day fantasy epic that depicts the gunslinger Roland Deschain hunting for the titular tower at the center of the universe. Its blend of classic fantasy and more contemporary storytelling makes for one of the most distinctive settings of recent novels, ideal for a video game.
In particular, The Dark Tower could make for a perfect open-world RPG that lets the player traverse many different settings. From Mid-World to Keystone Earth, a game could have plenty of variety for players to talk, explore, and fight through. It could even touch on the series’ controversial ending to ease its punch for diehard fans.
8 The Martian Already Feels Like A Survival Game
Most video games are violent, conflict-heavy stories that outstrip most novels in their body count. However, the recent explosion in gaming diversity has shown that fans enjoy plenty of games without a single fight in them. The Martian‘s science-heavy survival narrative is a far cry from most video games, but it’s far from unheard of.
Survival games have always been popular with gamers. The Martian goes out of its way to show Mars’ lethality for one stranded astronaut. Furthermore, games like Kerbal Space Program demonstrate a market for more realistic and science-heavy games for some audiences. Combining the two genres on an explorable Mars sounds like a dream open-ended survival simulator.
7 Mistborn Taps Into Many Beloved Gaming Niches
Brandon Sanderson has become one of modern-day’s most high-profile and successful fantasy authors thanks to his many novels and series set in the Cosmere universe. His Mistborn series is one of the most well-known and highly-rated. Its fantasy premise is also ideal for a video game story.
Mistborn takes place in a dystopian fantasy setting, centuries after a great hero installed himself as Lord Ruler and oppressed much of the world under his reign. It follows attempts by Mistborn sorcerers to oust the Lord Ruler. Aside from this classic video game premise, Sanderson’s famously detailed magic systems translate very well into video game mechanics.
6 Discworld Is Fantasy Novel Royalty
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is one of the most famous fantasy series ever for its delightful prose, rampant humor, and light-hearted pastiches of modern times. It’s an instantly recognized household name with legions of fans. Its many books, with their loose worldbuilding and frequent additions, make ripe fodder for video game inspiration.
There have been Discworld games in the past. The 1990s saw three adventure titles and the Discworld MUD text-based RPG that continues to this day. With how far gaming has progressed in recent years, it might finally be possible for a more modern Discworld game to capture the beauty, imagination, and humor of the setting.
5 The Edge Chronicles Could Easily Make A Game For Younger Audiences
Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
The Edge Chronicles novels are a series of sagas set in an unconventional world known as The Edge. They take place along a near-bottomless cliff face that many different species make their home in. This gives The Edge Chronicles the chance to revel in flight, sky pirates, and many other beloved fantasy tropes.
Most The Edge Chronicles novels are written for young adults rather than a more conventional fantasy audience. Nonetheless, their unique fantasy setting and surprisingly dark subject matter could appeal to a range of audiences. A game could lean into the intended young adult audience, or take away the more child-friendly aspects to appeal to gamers as a whole.
4 Malazan Book Of The Fallen Has Its Roots In RPGs
Malazan Book of the Fallen is a novel series tied together primarily by its world. Many books in the franchise are self-contained, sharing the world of Malazan and many prominent characters, but telling their own story. This is perfect for a potential video game, which could take the same approach and avoid adapting any novels directly.
Furthermore, Malazan Book of the Fallen has closer ties to gaming than most novel franchises. Writers Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont jointly built the world for use in the tabletop roleplaying game GURPS. Even though this isn’t a direct tie to video gaming, it shows what sort of stories the setting is perfect for.
3 The Earthsea Cycle Explores Other Sides Of Fantasy
Ursula K. Le Guin
The Earthsea Cycle is one of fantasy’s most venerable series, spanning over four decades of books. It takes place in a high-magic archipelago where spellcasting is a straightforward fact of life. The Earthsea Cycle stands out for its ocean-bound setting and its lack of Western European influences.
The unique nature of The Earthsea Cycle‘s world helps it stand out from many other fantasy video game settings. In addition, its archipelago-based world and heavy use of sailing taps into another video game niche. Ship gameplay similar to Sea of Thieves or Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and an in-depth magic system could make for a unique combination.
2 The Dresden Files Appeal To Fans Of Crime And Urban Fantasy
Urban fantasy has become a very popular book genre in recent years. However, it remains relatively unexplored in video games. The Dresden Files combines particularly grim urban fantasy with noir influences and detective fiction. This unique combination could create something seldom seen in games.
A Dresden Files video game could take many different tacks. It could be a more conventional urban fantasy action RPG. Alternatively, it could take a more mystery-solving, unconventional approach like Disco Elysium. Either way, fans of the series would be glad to see it well-represented in a video game.
1 The Wheel Of Time Deserves A More Representative Video Game
Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
The Wheel of Time is one of the most beloved and successful fantasy epics since The Lord of the Rings. Its strong place in literary culture has earned it a swathe of adaptations, including one 1999 video game. However, The Wheel of Time video game, despite having cult classic appeal, is a third-person shooter with dubious canonical ties to the beloved series.
The Wheel of Time seems perfect for an RPG video game, perhaps with ties to the tabletop The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game. Many fans would delight at the chance to create their own character in its evocative setting and magic system and explore an original adventure that runs parallel to the main book franchise.