Today is World Book Day, and in between reading our favourite books for the hundredth time, we got to wondering how many video games were inspired by books. There are the obvious ones, like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, but what else is there?
So we did a bit of research, and we ended up with a list of 7 brilliant games that were inspired by books. How many of these have you played or read?
1. The Witcher
We’ve got Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski to thank for the existence of the monster-hunting Geralt of Rivia, because his Witcher series of short stories and novels ended up being the inspiration for the incredible game series.
Now considered something of a cult classic in Poland, the Witcher books have been translated into numerous languages, and as of March this year over 33 million copies have been sold. Geralt has made an appearance in three Witcher video games, as well as in a Soulcalibur VI DLC and a recent Monster Hunter collaboration.
2. James Bond
Everyone’s heard of the James Bond movies, and a lot of people have played at least one of the many games, but did you know that they too started out in book form?
Author Ian Fleming published his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952, and went on to write thirteen more Bond instalments as well as children’s classic Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
We’re big fans of the smooth-talking spy, and we’re still secretly holding out hope for a LEGO James Bond game…
With the first novel published in 2005, Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro series has been published in 35 languages, and formed the basis for the much-loved Metro game series.
Just like the games, the novels tell the tale of a young man called Artyom, who lives underground in the remnants of the Moscow Metro after the nuclear apocalypse ravaged the world overhead.
Glukhovsky apparently preferred his novels to be made into a video game series rather than a movie as he was able to get more of a creative input into the writing process, and given how great the games turned out to be, we’re very glad that he did.
4. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
As if Tom Clancy’s name in the title didn’t give it away, the Rainbow Six franchise started out as a project belonging to the hugely successful espionage and military fiction author.
Tom Clancy co-founded Red Storm Entertainment, which made the first Rainbow Six game at the exact same time that Clancy was writing the novel version. However, because the game was finished first, it came out two weeks ahead of the novel and so the plotlines of the two don’t entirely line up.
Bioshock takes its inspiration from a number of works by dystopian fiction writers such as Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, but there’s also a particularly philosophical nod to Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
Rand’s novel is all about putting selfishness ahead of altruism, a concept called Objectivism. This concept ended up being reflected in Bioshock’s Little Sisters, human children who have been implanted with a type of sea slug that results in them producing a special genetic material called ADAM. The game’s main character has the choice of either killing them in order to harvest their ADAM for himself, or taking the (correct) altruistic route by sparing them.
6. Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line was designed to make players think about the realities of the war experience, incorporating some difficult moral choices and themes.
Its premise was influenced by the 1899 novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which explores the ways in which a person can change over time in intensely difficult circumstances. The main character in the game, Captain Martin Walker, shows increasing signs of physical and mental distress throughout the story, with his moral choices having a major impact on his relationships with his squadmates.
7. Assassin’s Creed
The very first Assassin’s Creed game started out as a potential sequel to Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and as a result it took heavy inspiration from Alamut, a 1938 novel by Vladimir Bartol.
Set in the 11th century, the novel tells the story of Hassan-i Sabbah, the founder of the real-life Assassin order, and it includes the phrase “Nothing is an absolute reality; all is permitted.” And if you think that phrase sounds similar to the Assassin’s Creed mantra of “Nothing is true; everything is permitted”, then you’d be absolutely right.
It’s far from the only nod to the novel, though – even main game character Altaïr’s clothes are apparently based on the book’s descriptions of typical Assassin attire, though the eagle-themed hood is a modern addition.