Video games today are some sort of practical magic. They’re able to take us to unknown places and let us explore their mysterious world. But before this storytelling technology took over, there was another portal into the world of fantasies, and that is the book.
Books introduce us to diverse themes, cultures and varieties of characters through the power of our imagination. They are also a continuous inspiration for the games we love to play. You’d be surprised to find out how many of the world’s famous games are influenced or directly based on books.
Assassin’s Creed is based on the novel Alamut
The 1930s novel from Vladimir Bartol is centered on the Persian missionary Hassan-i Sabbah. This character converted a small community back in the 11th century and formed the Hashashin to further their order. The maxim of the novel is “Nothing is an absolute reality; all is permitted”.
If that last line sounded familiar, it’s because the Assassin’s Creed game has it as an opening line – “Nothing is true, everything is permitted”. The first game takes place during the Crusades and follows the adventures of Altar, a powerful warrior tasked to take down members of the opposing Knights Templar. All series feature historical fiction, science fiction and characters associated with real-world events and figures. Since its first release, developers have not been shy to explore different storylines and plots. The main games are set in an open world and presented from a third-person perspective. Here, protagonists take down targets using their stealth skills with the exploitation of the environment. Apart from single-player missions, some games also provide competitive, multiplayer gameplay.
The Witcher is based on Polish series of dark fantasy novels
Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher quickly became one of Poland’s most popular fiction series ever. The story about the mysterious Geralt won third place in a Polish short story contest back in the 80s. Years after, this novel enjoys worldwide fame and became an inspiration for game developers and scenarists. Last year Netflix released a TV series with this character and since then it rates among the top popular and most-watched series on this platform.
The collection of short stories and novels follows the adventures of Geralt of Rivia and princess Ciri who are linked by destiny to each other. The novels follow the main protagonists at different points of time, exploring formative events that shaped their characters before merging into a single timeline.
Using the amnesia theme and timeline, Geralt has lost much of his memory of his time adventuring, leaving the player to learn about the world and its people as the game progresses. The games are famous for escaping the books’ own moral ethics – only this time, your choices affect the world more than you simply turning the page. Players can choose one of three fighting styles to use in a different situation and against different rivals. Geralt’s steel blade is used to fight humans and animals, while the silver sword is more effective against supernatural monsters and beasts.
Alchemy is a major part of the gameplay, as players can create potions that improve health or encourage regeneration, night vision, and other useful traits. However, there is no book to look for a magic potion, and players here can experiment with ingredients.
Parallelly, we notice a lot of content similarities with the legend about the Book of Dead. The darkest secrets about the Egyptians, their longing for power, eternal life, and supernatural traits are summarized between the pages of this mystery book. This story itself represents an inspiration for many console games, including the famous slot games. When you open the Book of Dead you’ll be introduced to the symbols, their meaning, and concept behind the slot game, similar to what developers of The Witcher have done with the symbols hunt storyline.
Parasite Eve is a sequel to the Parasite Eve book
This biochemical novel by Hideaki Sena encouraged a trend in Japan, including manga, films and long-running video game series. The base story begins when a routine liver transplant goes wrong, as a unique cellular organism calling itself “Eve” begins to take control over the human hosts and utilize mitochondria to take over the world. This parasite controls the people she encounters, in order to create the perfect life form. This book won the first-ever Japan Horror Novel award in 1995 and it was officially translated in English in 2007.
The game about Parasite Eve was developed and published by Square and represents a sequel to the original novel. It follows the NYPD cop, Aya Brea, over a period of six days, as the city of New York collapses after Eve’s grand return. Precisely, the story’s plot takes place at an opera at Carnegie Hall. During the opera, everyone in the building spontaneously combusts, except for Aya and an actress on stage named Melissa Pearce. Melissa says that Aya’s mitochondria need more time to develop and flees backstage while Aya chases her. Behind the scenes, Melissa mutates into a beast and declares that her name is now Eve.
This is mainly an action role-playing video game with survival horror elements. Enemies in the game materialize and attack players on the same screen that they move Aya around on, with no battle mode or screen being used. In battle, the game uses a pausing real-time combat system with an active time bar (ATB) that sets the time that must be waited until the player can take the next action.
The game was sometimes compared to the Resident Evil series, though developers said that Parasite Eve had deeper gameplay with multiple weapon upgrades and hidden areas to discover. However, online reviews cited that even though this game broke many RPG gaming records, it suffered from being a relatively short game that had little replay value.