Earlier this year we wrote about videogames that would make for great movies. It’s far more common for games to be based on movies, though, and sadly most videogame adaptations of films sit pretty comfortably between yearly Madden updates and whoever keeps making Postal games in terms of artistic achievement. It’s a sad state of affairs, but as new filmmakers who have a healthy love and respect for the medium come along, the chance of seeing them cross the line and take a hand’s on approach with games based on their movies becomes greater. (Think of all those games Guillermo del Toro supposedly works on, all of which have invariably been cancelled.) With that in mind, if the videogame and movie businesses really want to team up and put that cliché of the lazy movie tie-in game to rest , here are a few projects they could work on to do that.
It’s tempting to want Chris Nolan to work on an Inception game just to keep him away from DC movies. (Although does anybody think he did anything with Man of Steel other than a pitch meeting and cashing a check?) But Nolan casually dropped he’d want to do an Inception game back when the film dropped. Five years down the road, it’s still out there, still relevant, and still a great idea. The technology in that film could bring players into anyone’s brain, to any variety of locales. Imagine a Max Payne game where Max’s grimy city has loose definitions of physics, with numerous options for screwing with a mark’s sense of self. The possibilities are endless, if done right.
Who Should Make It?: Dontnod (Remember Me, Life Is Strange). For one thing, these are folks that deserve to play with a giant budget. But these are also folks who seem to innately know how to translate the way people think into something interactive.
The first sci-fi movie ever made, and still, surprisingly, one of the best. We’ve seen its best ideas recycled several times over, but not nearly as many attempts to make the aesthetics work. If we can have a game that looks like Studio MDHR’s upcoming Cuphead, we can have a game that reproduces Fritz Lang’s particular twisted brand of art deco. More importantly, however, technology could afford an ability to recreate parts of the film that have been missing for years, and make them work in context, which would raise every cinephile’s eyes, for good or ill.
Who Should Make It?: Pretty much anybody who worked on a Bioshock title has a studio now. Draw a name out of a hat.
Really this is here as the best representative of something gaming could absolutely use, which is more period pieces, and a well written, well-planned, low key adventure game taking place in the 1950’s would fit that bill nicely. It would also bring something to the table that Hitchcock mastered, and gaming is often too drunk with power to utilize, which is restraint. This would be a game that would have to stick with real world limits, and, ideally, stick close to the rules of the film. It’s the kind of creative experiment the game world needs.
Who Should Make It?: Obsidian Entertainment. Alpha Protocol had its problems, but it got so much right about several generations of spy drama. Obsidian deserves another shot at the genre.
Romance and positivity are also generally missing from videogames. This is a movie about a woman who dedicates herself, out of the blue, solely to helping other people find the missing pieces of their lives, from writing new letters to a widow to let her know her husband loved her, to taking a blind man on a narrated whirlwind tour of the city he’s never seen, to sending her lonely housebound father’s lawn gnome with a stewardess so he can travel the world. This is an idea that would translate like gangbusters to an open world adventure game, and would only get better as more options became available to let the player come up with their own solutions. And it’d be set in a fantastical version of Paris, a city we also don’t see portrayed in games enough, or at least in as much detail as such a game would need. In the right hands, it’d be delightful.
Who Should Make It?: Ubisoft Montreal or Montpelier. The UbiArt engine might be a wonderful fit for a light-hearted reimagining of Paris, and there’s enough imagination between those two studios to make 20 of these and never run out of ideas.
The book Cloud Atlas is a vast, sprawling epic spanning a millennium, showing the connections we all have as simply being human and living on Earth. The movie Cloud Atlas does the same thing, showing those connections being formed by storytelling. Whether a game based on the idea copies the movie directly and allows players to change the course of each story with the smallest of creative decisions in their work, or if it goes for broke and creates six entirely new tales to weave together, the potential here for six vastly different games, with a higher standard of writing, and the kind of awe-inspiring creativity that would have to be employed to make it work, could make this game push the medium a baby step forward all by itself.
Who Should Make It?: Well, we know how the Wachowskis’ last outings with games have gone, so “not Atari” is pretty much the only hard and fast rule. But a wildly ambitious tale demands a wildly ambitious storyteller. Which pretty much demands David Cage. But only if the Wachowskis can keep Cage’s worst tendencies on a leash.
Justin Clark is a freelance games writer living and freezing in Rochester, New York. Formerly at CHUD.com, his work can currently be found at Slant Magazine, Gamespot, and Joystiq. He can be found on Twitter at @justinofclark.