Writers from Film and Gaming team up to give you a selection of video games which would perhaps make for wonderful films
In all honesty, a film adaption of Among Us is just a feasible way to combine an Agatha Christie murder mystery with the Alien franchise. The elevator pitch is simple; a lonely, industrial space vessel is drifting aimlessly, devoid of engine power. As the ship slowly runs out of air, the spacesuit-clad crew members scramble to fix the seemingly accidental mishaps that have befallen the ship. But, as anyone who has played the smash 2018 sleeper hit Among Us knows, there is a murderous imposter skulking the ship, picking away at the crew, who all begin to turn on each other in a spiral of fear and paranoia. This has the perfect ingredients for a pulpy, violent B-movie, full of jumps and thrills, and maybe even an extraterrestrial or two.
Murder mysteries are a cinematic staple, but you know what improves anything? Space. The creaking, hissing hull of the ship, coupled with the eerie red glare of the emergency lights is a perfect setting for a space themed slasher, with all the tension and horror of the original Alien. As the crew begin to turn on each other, the Shakespearean drama and Machiavellian betrayal that any game of Among Us can contain would be the perfect showcase of acting. Anyone could fill the cast of colourful spacesuits, whether they’re all Oscar winners or the cast of Grown Ups. In fact, give me an Adam Sandler/Kevin James led Among Us film any day. It might be cathartic to watch them turn on each other after all they’ve made us sit through.
That’s right. Blaseball, the absurdist verisimilitude of a baseball league that plays in your browser and preys on your sanity, deserves a movie. I’m thinking of something along the lines of A League of Their Own, but with more bases, more gay and more crabs. All of the original cast could return, with Tom Hanks playing the role of a bedraggled zombie Jaylen Hotdogfingers, who returns from the dead to warn the rest of the league about the impending wrath of the ‘Shelled One,’ an entity of unknown origins and sinister intentions and is also a peanut. Together, along with a team made up of some of the splort’s greatest – Nagomi McDaniel (Geena Davis), Jessica Telephone (Madonna) and Pitching Machine (as themself) – would unite to reawaken the Hall Monitor, a giant squid who works for the boss, an ancient Roman coin.
The film would be scored, as before, by Hans Zimmer but not on purpose, the score will comprise of one long block of low discordant horns created by Zimmer when he accidentally left his coffee cup on the keys of his synthesizer. The denouement would be an Avengers Endgame style set piece with the team facing off against a team made up of some of the splort’s biggest wankers fronted, of course, by Tillman Henderson (Daniel Kaluuya because that man can do anything). If there’s any execs out there, all I need is a budget of no less than $500 Billion and I can make this happen.
Until Dawn may not be your first choice for a game that could be made into a film; the narrative is complex, the player choice element to the game leaves so many doors left tantalisingly unopened to its players and each character’s story is feasibly too long to be covered equally in a single narrative. It does, however, situate itself in a particular sweet spot of cinema: the slasher genre. Complete with a cabin in the woods and untold mysteries lurking beneath the surface of this seemingly perfect group of friends, Until Dawn has the potential to make an incredible horror movie premise.
Sam’s position as the final girl is all but guaranteed. She’s different from her peers, sarcastic whilst remaining humble and caring to her friends. Her sceptical nature feeds perfectly into the stereotype. With her absence from the narrative for a good portion of the game, the film would have ample opportunity to explore the psyche of the remaining characters: Mike the jock, Chris the stoner and Jessica the ‘dumb blonde’ to name a few. Emily and Matt’s exploration of the world outside the cabin would provide the audience with the opportunity to get lost with the characters. Not to mention, the looming burden of staying alive until the sun comes up.
While juggling the narrative would certainly be a difficult ask with Until Dawn, through the eyes of Sam, it is entirely possible for this premise to excel on the silver screen.
A film set in Rapture was in development for quite some time, but unfortunately it never came into existence. It is a shame because the world of Bioshock is an immensely intriguing place for a potentially phenomenal film. Put simply, Rapture is a wonderful location which achieves much in terms of atmosphere and innovation.
So, what is Bioshock most known for? Well, the characters, plot twists, story and setting are the key factors associated with the franchise. A film adaptation would require much of this to create the correct atmosphere. Characters such as Andrew Ryan and Atlas help to mould the story effectively, and aid in the building of tension and plot twists. Meanwhile, you never feel safe in Rapture, with Splicers and Big Daddy’s roaming the underwater city.
Imagine the following: alongside a protagonist (or a few), we step into Rapture and through their eyes, we uncover the dark secrets lying under the surface (literally). Along the way they must face deadly foes and gruelling anxieties. Perhaps this could be set in-between the first two games. Alternatively, what about setting the film just before Rapture’s fall? There are a few options of when it should be set.
In terms of other films, what could influence Bioshock? I am thinking of the gore and lighting of Snowpiercer; the thriller conventions of Alien; the claustrophobia of Panic Room. Creating an action/adventure/thriller combination would make the most sense, to make one of the best films, based on a video game.
Picture this: a small town, magnificent mountains, and luscious forests in the Pacific Northwest region of America. Stardew Valley would be ideal for a film adaptation; the story of a stranger arriving to begin a new life at their late grandfather’s old farm after growing tired of city life at a corporate job. An uplifting story about a farmer saving a small pocket of civilisation from the evil capitalist corporation ‘Joja Co.,’ whilst making friends with the interesting, occasionally mystical, and sometimes rather eccentric residents of Stardew Valley.The game’s soundtrack is already beautiful and would translate wonderfully into a film score. Moreover, the setting of Stardew Valley would make for a visually breathtaking backdrop (think Twilight-esque American countryside). The depth of every character in Stardew Valley means that the options for a writer are numerous: would they follow the story of rugged, mysterious fisherman Willy, or perhaps kind but misunderstood Linus? The dash of fantasy and magic woven into the ordinary would make for a charming film adaptation that could surely entice both die-hard fans and people unfamiliar with the game. Stardew Valley is a game that deserves a film adaptation, and would be entirely perfect for one.
There aren’t that many games more visually ground-breaking than 2008’s Mirror’s Edge. Its stylised cityscape world is one of blinding white concrete, spotless glass skyscrapers and stunning streaks of colour. With such a distinctive visual flair, it’s almost criminal that the title’s staggering scenery hasn’t already found its way to the big screen. I would love to see how the original design intentions paired with some more modern special effects and the locales of real-world cities would look.
The game was originally inspired by the chase scenes of films like Casino Royale and The Bourne Identity, which goes to show that the predominantly parkour-oriented gameplay would easily translate into an exhilarating action movie and its political-thriller plot would make a great frame for some exciting action sequences. Keeping the killer soundtrack, composed by electronica artist Solar Fields, wholly intact would be a must, not to mention a return to its fantastic theme song Still Alive.
There are a few things that would definitely need changing though. For one thing, the protagonist Faith is left pretty much as a blank slate throughout the game’s roughly 10-hour runtime – making her a prime candidate for more character development. It would also be nice to see a little bit more of the city itself, maybe with some scenes taking place in more exciting locations than deserted rooftops. Also, a perspective change from first to third person without saying just to ensure the audience won’t be spending the entire film motion sick and grasping paper bags!
The best part about The Sims is controlling every aspect of your characters’ lives. Film as a medium doesn’t exactly lend itself to this level of command, but sometimes it can – and why shouldn’t it? Imagine this: The Sims – Bandersnatch style. Instead of being limited to the Black Mirror episode’s dark story options, you get a blank slate, enabling the viewer to make the film’s actors do all the things which make The Sims so great. You can make them go for a swim and build walls around the pool, have a ghost baby or enter them into a relationship with Death itself! I would happily sacrifice narrative cohesion for the chance to make famous actors play around in a hellish sandbox of the viewer’s choosing. It has the potential to be as creepy as Black Mirror while retaining the insane anarchy which makes The Sims so endlessly playable. It would be a great meeting of mediums and an endlessly diverting solution to your lockdown boredom.
The issue with adapting Video Games to film is that they are two entirely separate art forms where the former is defined by player agency and interactivity. As such, the best video game films do as much as possible to make use of the setting and aesthetics of a video game rather than using characters and narratives that are written primarily to serve gameplay. As such, I think that the X-COM series with its well-defined setting and emphasis on emergent storytelling through random chance (losing your favourite character to a shot they had a 95% chance to dodge is a unique kind of tragedy) would provide filmmakers with the freedom necessary to create their own stories that fit into the world of X-COM.
Video games and movies have historically been a one-sided affair. We see adaptations from one medium into the other all the time, but arguably video game adaptations of films have been much more successful than film adaptations of video games. Enjoy watching James Bond? Well now you can be him, crawling through vents and shooting as many soldiers in the head as your heart desires. The transition from video game to film is much more rocky. Making a plumber jump up and down on mushrooms is much more enjoyable than watching Bob Hoskins do the same, and you know a genre has a bad track-record when the Super Mario Bros. Movie is a highlight.
There’s one series however that seems near-perfect for the big screen, and that is Banjo-Kazooie. Just watch the intro for the 1998 game and you will be bawled over by the joyful, cheesy fun on offer. The first game follows Banjo (a bear) and Kazooie (a red bird who lives in his backpack) and you play as the two characters as they go to save Banjo’s sister from the evil witch Gruntilda. Since every character plays an instrument (and in some cases are named after one) it seems ripe for an animated musical adaptation. It’s a Nickelodeon-ready setup, and the games are overflowing with unique characters, from the to the tragic rusted shark Clanker who is nightmare-fuel for children, to Bottles the mole who turns up to give you advice, very much the series’ Q if there was one. It’s an impossible adaptation to ruin, although I’m sure Hollywood will try their best to prove me wrong.
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