5 Video Games That Are Based on World Literature


Video games. Love’em or hate ’em, one thing’s for sure, there’s no escaping them. There’s nothing quite like plowing your way through a great story with amazing graphics and lots of bad guys to gun down in one 15-20 hour go, and today we take a moment to celebrate some successful games that were based on world literature. Is playing through each of these the next best thing to picking up a book? Probably not, but they’re still a pretty damn fun form of entertainment.

1.  Metro 2033 / Based on the novel Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky / Translated from the Russian by Natasha Randall

Metro_2033This horror survival first person shooter for the Playstation 4, Linux, Windows, OS X, Xbox 360, and Xbox One is actually based on a novel by Russian author Dmitry Gluknovsky. Both the game (Dying Light) and the novel (Metro 2034) were successful enough to spawn sequels, however the stories that they tell are not related to one another. You can currently pick up Metro Redux (a super charged retooling of the series with bonus content) for both next generation consoles.

2. Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel / Based on the novel The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn by Arkady Strugatsky & Boris Strugatsky / Translated from the Russian by Josh Billings

Dead_Mountaineers_HotelBefore this year The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn was woefully unavailable to read in English translation, however the video game adaptation of the Russian novel titled Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel has been available on Steam since the tail end of 2009. The Strugatsky brothers were known as masters of science fiction and while the game adaptation has garnered some negative feedback, it does provide you with the opportunity to play through their wildly inventive whodunit in a non-linear way and promises over 15 hours of gameplay. Interestingly enough, this isn’t the only work by the brothers to be adapted into a video game. Their novel Roadside Picnic was transformed into S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl back in 2007.

3. The Witcher / Based on The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski / Translated from the Polish by Danusia Stok

WitcherBased on a series of short stories and novels penned by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher series of games for Windows and OS X has been critically acclaimed. The game offers up a unique set of moral choices that the player must make along the way, each with its own set of interesting, time delayed effects that impact the story in various ways. The original game and its sequel Assassin of Kings are currently available to play, with a third games titled Wild Hunt scheduled for a May release.

4. Assassin’s Creed / Inspired by Alamut by Vladimir Bartol / Translated from the Slovenian by Michael Biggins

Assassins_CreedThe Assassin’s Creed franchise has spawned dozens of games at this point, but it’s the original entry in the series that was inspired by Vladimir Bartol’s 1939 novel. Taking place in the 11th century, Alamut introduces readers to the hashashins, the world’s first guild of assassins. Not surprising to those who have played Creed, the plot of book revolves around the guild’s leader and how his actions manipulate and control the political and social landscapes of the day.

5. Parasite Eve / Inspired by Parasite Eve by Hideaki Sena / Translated from the Japanese by Tyran Grillo

Parasite_EveParasite Eve for the original Playstation is NOT based on Japanese author Hideaki Sena’s novel of the same name. No. That would be too easy. Instead it serves as a sequel to the book! The game then went on to spawn two sequels of it’s own. This action adventure RPG from Square (their first ever to win a Mature rating from the ESRB) takes places in New York City over six days during the holiday season of 1997 and deals with mitochondria, mutation, and the spontaneous combustion of human beings.

There you have it! What are some of your favorite video games that were inspired by literature? What books do you think should be transformed into video games? Personally I’m itching to play me some Wind-up Bird Chronicle or Children in Reindeer Woods.

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.