If you look hard and for long enough there’s gold to be found in just about every sort of game available. Even if one particular segment of video games seems to be full of nothing but flops.
The movie tie-in genre has been one of the most hit-or-miss in all of gaming, rarely do games manage to nail the landing on delivering an interactive adventure akin to the cinematic experience. It would be overly generous to say for every Goldeneye 007 there are only five Fight Club The Video Game-esque counterparts tipping the scales that weigh up my previous claim. There are, of course, some interesting titles to be found, but the real gems are oftentimes the games that don’t simply attempt to recreate their movie counterparts but build upon them and create something original.
The following is a list of 8 games (in no particular order) that have recreated the spirit of the movie franchises they’re derived from and deliver an experience that better yet doesn’t detract from the source material.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
Ghostbusters is one of the greatest films of all time, and if you disagree, you’re wrong. Naturally, a game based on such a beloved blockbuster is going to have to meet some pretty high expectations, and thankfully the game managed to deliver on pretty much all fronts. From the utter chaos and destruction derived from firing your proton pack to the fantastic back-and-forth between your co-starring characters (voiced by the original cast no less), this game throws you into the Ghostbusters universe and makes you feel like the fabled third installment has arrived.
While the game launched on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC through Steam, you can now pick or a remastered version of the game on current-gen consoles and the Epic Games store.
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
This point-and-click gem is one of the most Indy-faithful games available. Often overlooked amid Lucas Arts’ fantastic lineup of classic adventure games, and undeservedly so. The game takes the classic Indy formula and manages to inject the trademark Lucas Arts humour and game design in a way that will have players happy to include this in their Indiana Jones Headcannon.
This game also managed to do something pretty interesting beyond script and story, for a genre bemoaned for its lack of replayability Fate of Atlantis had three unique paths the player could take that would change how they could approach the different chapters of the game, Indy was able to take on more puzzles in one path, more action in another, or to include Indy’s sidekick Sophia Hapgood more allowing her to help out throughout the game.
You can pick up Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis from both Steam and gog.com currently for as low as £5. An absolute steal.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
Escape from Butcher Bay is maybe one of the few games to really outshine, or out eyeshine wink-wink-nudge-nudge, it’s movie counterpart. It’s blending of stealth and first-person action is something to behold, it feels satisfying and challenging but most importantly fun. Even if you’re no fan of the movie franchise, this is a game worth playing, it’s a truly standalone slice of the life of Richard B. Riddick that fans of the character will not want to pass over.
Sadly unless you want to pick this game up on last-gen consoles as it’s included with the Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena game, Steam removed the game from its library in 2013 and gog.com follow suit in 2017, effectively making the game abandonware.
Computer Artworks’ The Thing sees you, Captain J. F. Blake sent to investigate Outpost 31, the setting for 1982’s classic sci-fi horror, that this game is set after. In most gameplay terms this is a standard fare third-person shooter for the time, although what makes the game stand out are the fantastically designed mechanics in place that keep players constantly on their toes.
Blake is joined by various task-orientated NPCs who, should you start acting a little hinky towards, will actually begin to suspect you of being the alien invader they are attempting to investigate. NPCs that begin to suspect you may refuse to take orders from you, or even go so far as to outright attack you themselves. At the same time, however, a mechanic within the game can mean that when fighting various Thing-like entities those very NPCs could well become infected themselves, you never really know who to trust, and nor do they.
It’s exactly what you want in a game when it was such a core component of the film. Top marks.
The Thing is currently (to my knowledge) not listed on any of the digital marketplaces, in future, gog.com may have a listing for it, but for now, it’s mostly classed as abandonware.
To say there aren’t good games based on the Alien franchise would be a lie, however, to say they often take the Aliens approach to gameplay wouldn’t. Previous to this entry in the franchise most games failed to instill an actual fear of the titular Xenomorph, instead tasking you with gunning down anything that moves with only the occasional moment of fear as something dark and slimy comes dashing at you from across a dimly lit corridor.
Alien: Isolation, however, makes it clear to you from the get-go, in this game you aren’t the hunter, you’re the hunted. The game’s visuals look stripped right out of the original film, even the colour grading looks to recreate that 80s dark science fiction aesthetic. The tone is perfect, the gameplay keeps you on the edge of your seat and the threat is constant. It’s the perfect complement to the original movie, handled with incredible attention to detail and extreme loyalty to the source material.
Alien: Isolation is available to buy on all major platforms, and if the rumours of a soon to be announced sequel are true, it should be on any franchise fan’s pre-order list.
This is the game that will most often appear on listicles like this one, the Westwood developed Blade Runner point-and-click adventure game is one of the best detective games there is. Added to that each scene looks ripped straight from the silver screen, everything about the game echos it’s movie counterpart exactly, every location looks drenched in neon and noir as you guide Blade Runner Ray McCoy through a plot that coincides with the original film. Often referred to as a ‘sidequel’ the game has you tracking down a unique collection of off-world replicants separate from the 1982 blockbuster, Voight-Kampff’ing your way through suspects and piecing clues together using a very early version of what we might now refer to as a dialogue wheel.
As stated in the entry for Indiana Jones, replayability in point-and-click games is often lacking, as once you know the solutions to the puzzles in place the game reduces in challenge greatly. However, Westwood developed the game so that for each playthrough the cast members who are replicants change, and how you deal with them, in turn, will also change the progression of the plot. Adding to this sense of the unknown, NPCs in the game will go about their own business without waiting for you, giving you the sense that time is of some importance, constantly applying pressure to your hunt.
You can currently grab a copy of the game over at gog.com, although developers Nightdive Studios have announced a remaster in Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition, featuring updated visuals and improved resolution coming sometime within the next year.
STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic
Probably one of the most impressive uses of the Star Wars license to date is Knight of the Old Republic, instead of simply creating a tale around established characters in Luke, Leia and Han, BioWare decided to go all out and set the entire game 4,000 years before the events of the films even began.
Set in a period of unrest between the Republic and the Sith, the player is tasked with assembling a rag-tag band of heroes (and rogues) to take on the might of Darth Malak.
BioWare managed to pull off something special in KotoR, not only was it one of the best stories in gaming history, but it allowed the player to journey from a simple member of the Republic to a powerful Jedi spearheading the final all-out assault on Malak himself.
It somehow manages to feel faithful and true to the films, while still being so far removed time-wise that a lot of what goes on is entirely disconnected. Sure there are familiar things to see here, lightsabres, Jedi, Sith, Wookies, Droids, Mandalorians, even proto-versions of things we are more familiar with, like some of the droids or areas you come across, but what BioWare managed to carve out was something otherwise unique and captivating.
KotoR 1 and 2 can be found on Steam and gog.com, on the original Xbox, and even the Xbox One via the backwards compatibility library. For anyone having not played this yet, I cannot recommend it enough. If you’re a fan of RPGs or Star Wars this is a must-play.
Set to be released in the same year as Fury Road, many of us expected little more than a tie-in game, what we instead got was the open-world turbocharged post-apocalypse on wheels that we never even knew we wanted.
Burning through the barren desert in your Magnum Opus leaving a plume of dust in your wake, racing toward a sandstorm wall, avoiding a hail of bullets from your rear as plumage coated Buzzard raiders inch closer to your bumper, orchestral chants and kettle drum booms ring in your ears, blasting into the orange shroud with full nitro boost and becoming blinded to everything outside your chassis, barging into the blaring wind swept depths of the storm to shake your tail, lost, directionless, 100mph, industrial scrapings and clangs through howling winds, low on fuel, you blast through the other side of the storm, you’re alone, your car slowly sputters to a halt. You’re safe. You step away from the computer and have a lay down in the fetal position for a while so you can recover.
What Mad Max lacks is Mel Gibson, everything else is pretty much dead to rights. While visually the game looks like it’s taken a few more cues from Fury Road, the feel of this open landscape draws inspiration from all of the Mad Max franchise. The world feels dead, and that for once is good, we are often told that the game we are playing exists in some post-apocalyptic setting and yet we cant step forwards more than ten paces before somebody wanting to offer us a quest, sell us some old knackered tat or blow our faces off just to take our pocket full of bottle caps.
Mad Max isn’t perfect, it’s janky freeflow combat feels unrefined, it’s repetitive generic open-world activities aren’t anything groundbreaking, they’re barely innovative, but in terms of giving you to tools and wheels to make you feel like a true road warrior, the game comes out on top with fuel to spare.
Mad Max is available on all current-gen consoles, Steam and gog.com, don’t pass it up, even if you’re not familiar with the movie franchise you owe it to yourself to pack a playlist with some seriously loud rock music and blast around this games beautiful wasteland obliterating everyone or thing who dares try to get in your way, like some juggernaut of carnage.
So there we have just a handful of games I feel brilliantly capture the world and feel of the movies they’re based on, there’s more to be sure, by the time you finish any list there’s always another item you can help but kick yourself for not including, but should that be the case with my selection in your eyes, feel free to leave a comment below and make your case.