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Earlier this year, Brian Keene uploaded a walkthrough on his youtube channel of a prototype/alpha version of a video game adaptation of his breakthrough zombie novel, THE RISING (2003).

Although the project never came to fruition, it got me thinking.  While the novel to video game adaptation has led to some of the most well-known franchises of the AAA gaming era (THE WITCHER, BIOSHOCK, ASSASSINS CREED), considering the wide range of stories out there in horror fiction, very few have been adapted into video games.  

The list of horror authors that have had their work adapted into video games includes the following writer’s Clive Barker, Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft.

Unless I’m mistaken, that’s it.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the games from these authors: 

Clive Barker: 

Clive Barker is on this list because he produced/attached his name to two different first-person shooters: 2001’s UNDYING and 2007’s JERICHO.  While they are not direct adaptations of Barker’s novels, this is a close example of a writer in horror fiction getting a video game off of the ground.    

Stephen King: 

Most Stephen King adaptations came in the mid-’80s to early ’90s, and most of them were, by most accounts, awful. 

The most interesting adaptation, in my opinion, is a text based game from 1985 based off of THE MIST.

The last true Stephen King video game was released over two decades ago.  F13 was a critically panned collection of casual, horror-inspired games. 

H.P. Lovecraft: 

Compared to Clive Barker and Stephen King, Lovecraft’s influence is ubiquitous in the video game world.  His work has been directly adapted into games like THE SUNKEN CITY and THE CALL OF CTHULHU and there are dozens of titles that wear his influences on their sleeves.  From QUAKE to BLOODBORNE, to DARKEST DUNGEON – Lovecraft is the undisputed horror-lit champion of horror fiction into the video game world.

Here are 5 horror books that would translate well into a video game format:

THE DARK TOWER, by Stephen King

While the majority of the King video game adaptations have fallen flat, I can’t imagine a better world for a game studio to play around with than what King established with THE DARK TOWER series.  The game wouldn’t even need to necessarily follow the main arc of the series.  Writers could craft a very cool open world with the lore and either cast Roland as the protagonist, or maybe do something similar to what SHADOW OF MORDOR did, and center the game around another gunslinger.  Either way, the potential for an amazing 3rd person action RPG is sitting right there.     

NECROSCOPE, by Brian Lumley

It was JUST announced that Brian Lumley’s NECROSCOPE series is getting new life.  I am a huge fan of the various adventures of Harry Keogh and can EASILY picture this series as a game.  Just like THE DARK TOWER, I think a third-person open world ARPG would be a perfect way to bring this world of vampires and multidimensional travelling agents that communicate with the dead to consoles everywhere.  

INTO THE MIST, by Lee Murray

The whole Taine McKenna series by Lee Murray revolves around combat marines taking down monsters. It’s been way too long since we had a good TUROK game, so an FPS with Taine as the protagonist and set it in the jungle would be the next best thing.  Hell, an asymmetrical multiplayer game like HUNT: SHOWDOWN would be really cool.  One squad plays as the soldiers, one player is the monster.      

THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE, by Eric LaRocca 

There has been a revival of text-centered, interactive story games in the last decade, and I would LOVE to see this mean little epistolary novella get adapted into an on-rails experience where you are mostly responding to IM’s and making dialogue choices for emails.  You would play Agnes.  No spoilers, but acting out the scenes from this book would make the player squirm.  It would be an unforgettable experience.

CLOWN IN A CORNFIELD, by Adam Cesare

Give me a corn maze VR game set in the world of Adam Cesare’s CLOWN IN A CORNFIELD.  That’s all that needs to be said, really.    

There are plenty of other works of horror fiction that would make excellent worlds for video games.  

What would you like to play?

Donnie Goodman

Donnie Goodman

Author

Donnie Goodman is a reader, writer, and collector of horror fiction. He runs the bookstagram page and YouTube show, "The Horror Hypothesis" and writes book reviews for SCREAM! Magazine. When he is not out in the wild, searching for Paperbacks From Hell in Central Virginia, he is likely reading, writing, or playing video games. His first collection, THE RAZORBLADES IN MY HEAD, is out now. 

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