Before there were video games, there were novels, short stories, and adventure books where you had to choose what you were going to do and turn to a certain page to discover the outcome. There were also tabletop roleplaying games where someone would create a whole story based on the contents of rulebooks, and you'd create your characters and let a series of dice rolls decide their fates throughout the adventure.
Of course, all of these formats are still incredibly popular today -- and some game developers have seen them as inspiration to create a whole new game on the screen. So in this slideshow, we're going to round up some of the best (and most well-known) games that actually began their lives on paper.
Metro 2033 began as a novel written by a young Russian author named Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was first published in Russia in 2005, and it wasn't until five years later that it was translated and published in the United States. The Metro series consists of three books -- Metro 2033, Metro 2034, and Metro 2035.
The book follows a young man called Artyom who, along with other survivors, is dealing with the fallout of a massive nuclear war which has wreaked havoc across most of the World. Even though many in the city of Moscow, Russia, made it into safety in the underground train stations of the city, they are still being hunted and killed by mysterious creatures called the Dark Ones. It is a story of survival in horrifying circumstances!
The video game version of Metro 2033 was picked up by a Ukrainian development studio called 4A Games in 2006 and, in collaboration with Glukhovsky, they produced a first-person shooter horror game that followed the events from the novel. It was released in 2010 for PC and Xbox 360, but never made it to PS3.
Subsequent titles in the Metro game series include Metro: Last Light and the upcoming sequel Metro: Exodus. There is currently no release date information regarding the new game, but it is speculated that it will arrive sometime in 2018.
This is the first tabletop roleplay game to be featured on this list, and it's a good'un! Originally released in 1991, the Vampire the Masquerade roleplaying game was the first of quite a number of games to be set in the World of Darkness, a universe created by White Wolf Games.
Players assume the role of Vampires who are trying to survive in a modern setting. Vampiric society has split into two distinctive sects -- the Camarilla (who are for integration and "masquerading" as normal humans) and the Sabbat (who just want to let it all out and prey on humans). Whether you are playing as the "goodies" or "baddies", there are always things more powerful and bloodthirsty than you to defeat.
Developed by Troika Games and published by Activision,Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines was released in 2004. A lot of the roleplay aspects of the game follow the ideas set out in the original tabletop adventure, and a lot of the story depends on which clan players assign their characters to. While this game has a definite storyline, you can still exercise your need for roleplaying by choosing a clan and making decisions to determine how this story is completed.
Even though it is out of print, the Vampire: The Masquerade is still available second-hand for various prices via Amazon or Ebay. For a game that was released a pretty long time ago, it is still going strong on Steam at $15 -- and has a dedicated modding community to boot.
An article about video games that began their lives in print wouldn't be complete without a mention of H.P. Lovecraft and his works on the Cthulhu mythos. There have been many games inspired by it, but I could only choose one.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, a survival horror FPS, was inspired by a 1931 novella by Lovecraft called The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It follows the story of a gentleman who arrives in the town of Innsmouth to find that there have been a series of unexplained and secret events which have transformed the area into a spooky and barely inhabited ghost town.
Just like the main protagonist in the story, the player must piece together what has happened before going completely insane. In both the story and the game, you are confronted by Old Gods -- whose followers are as grotesque on the outside as they are inside and hell-bent on silencing you any way they can.
Development of the game began in 1999 with British indie developer Headfirst Productions, and it was eventually published by Bethesda. The game was released in 2005 for Xbox and 2006 on PC. Even though it is known for having many in-game bugs and some really difficult puzzles, it's still held in rather high regard by fans, and continues to be downloaded and played via Steam.
Lovecraft, being continually popular, is still in print to this day -- and you can find copies of The Shadow Over Innsmouth on Amazon from as little as $5.90. If you are interested in reading more about Cthulhu and the rest of Lovecraft's works, then there are some fantastic compilations available as well.
This series began as a black-and-white comic strip in the 80s roleplaying magazine Dragon. It's the work of renowned fantasy artist Larry Elmore. The series featured in this magazine from 1985 until 1989, then spawned its own tabletop card game and full-color follow-ups from the artist himself. In 2016 it was picked up by indie studio, Cellbloc Studios, to be turned into an RPG game.
SnarfQuest follows the journey of a young Zeetvah as he goes on a mission to become the richest and most famous of all the Zeetvah's in Zeetville. The game is quite a unique blend of fantasy and sci-fi with aspects of modern life. Other than Snarf, other characters include a robot from outer space, a scantily clad warrior woman, and a balding evil wizard.
The video game is available as an Episode or in Early Access on Steam. It has been a long time since the comic was in print, but there are second-hand copies available on Amazon and there are some very nice collector's edition volumes you can buy directly from Larry Elmore's website.
Even some of the biggest games around these days had to start somewhere. Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher franchise began life in the pages of the short stories and novels of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
First printed in 1986, The Witcher originally appeared in the Polish sci-fi and fantasy magazine Fantastyka. The first short story was the author's entry into a writing competition the magazine was running -- and it came in third place. Since then, more short stories featuring the adventures of Geralt were published and eventually collected into one volume in 1993.
Polish developers CD Projekt RED released the first game in the series on PC in 2007 -- the beginning of which followed the first book, The Last Wish. But that is where the similarities in storyline end. Of course, the main premise of the books is still in the games, but each of the games develops its own story to expand upon Sapkowski's original vision.
The books are still available on Amazon, and it would be a good idea to start with The Last Wish -- as the short stories in this volume will introduce you to the written word of Geralt. There is a whole host of The Witcher games on Steam as well, including plenty of expansions and DLCs.
This is the only game featured on this list that's based on a historical piece of 14th-century literature called The Divine Comedy. This epic is superb, even by today's standards. And the 2010 game by Visceral Games is based on a part this epic poem.
The original poem tells the story of Dante has he journeys through the levels of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. In Inferno, Dante tells of the nine levels of Hell and how he deals with seeing everything before him while reflecting on things that have happened during his life. From the sexual desires produced by Lust to the brutality of the Violent, Dante faces the ugliest and most disturbing parts of humanity as he travels through the circles of Hell in which they dwell once they have passed.
In the game, Dante is on a similar journey as he undertakes a mission to the center of Hell to rescue his beloved Beatrice from the clutches of Satan himself. Once again Dante meets Virgil, who guides him through each level of Hell. The game follows the course of the poem relatively closely -- apart from the expected artistic license used (such as Dante being a Knight Templar). Dante's Inferno finishes at the foot of Mount Purgatory, but was canceled before a sequel could be released.
The game was released on PS3,Xbox 360, and PSP. It can be found in most second-hand stores or online. If you want to check out Inferno and read through the poem from Purgatory to Paradise, then you can buy the entire Divine Comedy on Amazon for $15.
This would be the second CD Projekt RED game on this list, and this one hasn't even arrived yet! So why have I included it? Well, for starters I've played the original tabletop RPG and it is one of my favorites. Secondly, there are thousands of people who are really looking forward to the arrival of Cyberpunk 2077.
The game is based on the R. Talsorian Games tabletop roleplay experience called Cyberpunk 2020. Imagine a game where you can kit your character out with cybernetic implants, cyborg technology, or just jack into the web via a port at the top of your neck and instantly search for the information you need. You can do all that and more in Cyberpunk 2020. It is you against the establishment -- or visa versa if you'd prefer,\ -- and everything is done in a stylish and flamboyant way typical of the 1980s!
Not much is known about what Cyberpunk 2077 will be like, as it is still in development and isn't expected to arrive until 2019 at the earliest. What we do know is that it is going to take place in Night City, and you will be able to customize your character with cybernetics like the original game. This RPG will include both single and multiplayer modes as well. When CD Projekt RED releases more information about the game, make sure you check back to GameSkinny to read about the latest developments.
The roleplaying game is sadly out of print these days, but you can always grab yourself a second-hand copy on Amazon.
Okay, okay, so this game (and its predecessor) are very loosely based on the works of Lewis Carroll. Unless you've been hiding under a stone for most of your life, you've heard of Alice in Wonderland. Whether you've read the book or seen one of the films, you know that the basic premise of the series focuses on a curious little girl who follows a white rabbit down a rabbit hole -- only to be faced with a whole menagerie of strange creatures in a world called Wonderland.
I'm not going to dwell on the well-known adventures of Alice, but instead skip forward a few years to where renown game designer American McGee starts off his first Alice game. The events in the game take place after the known stories of Alice, and go on to explore what happened to her next. Events in her life force her to go seek help at a local asylum, but she is forced back into a Wonderland that's been corrupted somehow -- and only Alice can undo the damage and save her friends.
Alice: The Madness Returns also sees Alice go back to Wonderland. But on this occasion, she finds out that someone is trying to take over Wonderland and she must do everything in her power to stop it!
These psychological horror games aren't actually that far removed from the original plot, given some of the scenarios Alice is put in -- but American McGee adds his own macabre twist on things to create a couple of games that are truly weird and disturbing.
Alice was originally released on PC only, but was later released on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2011 when Alice: The Madness Returns dropped for those consoles and PC as well. The latter is still available to download on Steam.
The Alice in Wonderland books and its sequels are still going strong today and can be purchased from pretty much all book retailers.
I hope you have enjoyed a look at some of the video game gems that started life as a book, a comic strip, or a good old roleplaying game. Of course there are many others that didn't make this list, as developers have been finding inspiration in books for many years. There are also some big names that are coming out in the next couple of years, so make sure you keep an eye out for them!
Is there are a particular game that you like which we didn't include? Comment below so we can get talking! And make sure you check back with GameSkinny for more news about upcoming adaptations.