Graphic novels are able to tell stories that stand the test of time across generations. A unique art style or gripping narrative can make a novel truly memorable, leaving us only wanting more to be explored. Herein lies the perfect place for a game adaptation. Graphic novel adaptations of games have been more desired than ever thanks in part to Telltale, but there are still so many more stories that need to be told. These stories span multiple genres and game styles, which further goes to show just how diverse graphic novels.
Seconds is the most recent graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley about a struggling restaurant owner that gains the ability to redo all of her mistakes by eating magic mushrooms. Katie, the main character, eventually abuses this power with results that change not just her life but the lives of everyone she has contact with.
Bryan Lee O'Malley is no stranger to video game adaptations of his graphic novels, with his hit series Scott Pilgrim being featured as a side-scrolling beat 'em up. O'Malley has an inherent understanding of what makes games a unique storytelling medium, with each of his works already possessing a certain playfulness to them.
What makes Seconds such a good potential video game is that the game can succeed regardless of scope or genre. The simplicity and humor particular to O'Malley's style ensures that his characters realistically can work anywhere, from mobile games to full scale console releases. However, Seconds would
work best in a way similar to the retro style of the Scott Pilgrim game. If Ubisoft were to work on an O'Malley title again, a Seconds video game would be a surefire hit.
The presence of Watchmen on this list is practically standard given how incredibly influential the graphic novel is not just for its medium, but for storytelling as a whole.To this day, it serves as a landmark piece of American literature. Technically, a Watchmen game exists in the form of Watchmen: The End is Nigh, but that game serves as a prequel to the film adaptation of the graphic novel. The world truly needs a canonical Watchmen video game.
Watchmen is a gritty imagining of what it would be like if superheroes occupied our world, and how they would shape the course of all civilization. Masked vigilantes were involved in all of the key conflicts in American history, yet have been denounced by the federal government. A simple murder investigation of a former hero eventually transpires into a dramatic exploration of justice, humanity, and the evolving American discourse that occurred over several decades.
The challenge of converting this graphic novel to a game is that the game itself
would need to be absolutely enormous. This doesn't just describe the geographic scope, but also its depth. The world building in Watchmen is incredibly robust, and any game that seeks to do it justice must account for this. However, if done right, a true Watchmen adaptation would be nothing short of stellar. Rocksteady would perhaps be the best developer for this game due to their handling of Batman in Batman: Arkham Asylum. An action game with the level of mechanical depth and intense atmosphere present in the Arkham series would be perfect to replicate Watchmen.
Blankets is a graphic novel by Craig Thompson that chronicles the author's experiences of growing up while trying to understand himself, his dynamics with his family, and his own relationship with Christianity. Based on art style alone, Blankets deserves to be a video game thanks to its minimalistic yet powerful visual style. However, it is the powerful story that it is able to tell that best suits Blankets to an interactive medium.
Blankets would perhaps work best as a side-scrolling platformer, similar to a game like Inside. What the game would lack in complicated mechanics it would make up for with a deep, compelling narrative. Through the actions of the main character, players would be able to explore the complexities of Craig's coming-of-age. What Blankets does best is deliver a truly raw emotional experience, and being able to play through that experience would create something unforgettable.
Black Hole is a graphic novel set in an alternative 1970s America where a mysterious epidemic has been let loose that physically mutates those affected by it. The disease is solely sexually transmitted, creating a wealth of division between those affected and those that aren't. It's important to note that Black Hole is not focused on trying to eradicate the epidemic, but rather is focused on navigating the difficult social intricacies of teenage life.
Black Hole, despite its setting, is a timeless work that highlights the gross cruelty of high school life with a supernatural abstraction. By looking through the lens of physical mutation, Charles Burns is able to deliver a story that successfully tackles American teenage life and its many paradoxes.
Black Hole could see a video game adaptation most akin to a Telltale adventure game. After all, the emphasis of Black Hole's narrative is on its character and the dynamics between them. Focusing on the interactions between the characters opens up a wealth of opportunities to challenge the player.
Graphic novels tell truly unique stories that are simultaneously timeless and emblematic of the period they were written in. They capture the essences of humanity through colorful characterization, offering windows into who we are through a cartoonish lens. This list only scratches the surface of graphic novels that deserve the video game treatment.
What graphic novels do you hope to play in the future? Let us know in the comments section below!