It’s no secret that video game movies have a reputation for being pretty awful; despite that, the Internet is always rife with discussion about which game or series thereof might be the basis of Hollywood’s next attempt to break the stigma. This month, the Doublejump Discord community voted to turn that question onto the site’s Staff, and the result is eight carefully-considered suggestions that we truly believe might be able to become the first objectively good video game movie. Get your popcorn, get comfortable and enjoy the read!
Alex: Shadow of the Colossus
Team Ico’s Shadow of the Colossus dropped into the gaming scene back in 2005 as more than just a new adventure; it was an absolute work of art. It is an overwhelmingly emotional experience from start to finish, capturing every essence of sorrow and tranquility that a human being can possibly fathom. The story of a boy seeking the power to revive a lost female companion might appear to fall victim to the storytelling cliché of a hero saving his damsel in distress, but Shadow of the Colossus does such an excellent job of holding the player in the grip of so many conflicting emotions that it’s almost impossible to fault any narrative aspect.
A powerful story is undeniably important, but invoking a combination of beautiful scenery exploration and epic colossus battles places this concept above and beyond more than a fair share of action-adventure films that exist to date. Each colossus stands beautiful and mighty before the player, only to be brought down and ruined in a quest to do whatever it takes to achieve one’s goal. These scenes not only gripped gamers with their impressive action sequences, but also tugged at their heartstrings every step of the way; would the destruction of these great beasts truly be worth it in the end? Fans might still might be asking this question on their way out of the cinema, but the emotional rollercoaster that they’d endure before leaving would make any price absolutely worth it.
FromSoftware’s gothic dark fantasy game, Bloodborne, is nothing short of fiendishly beautiful. A world in total peril because of an other-worldly medical practice with only baneful hunters to purge the streets of the wicked and ill. Bloodborne has the most metal premise, delivered in the classic FromSoftware manner by drip-feeding hints and notions to the player. The only grievance I hold towards this game is its inability to deliver a story in the traditional way; a curse that would be perfectly remedied if the game were adapted into film.
With vast cathedrals and an abhorrently foul city as CGI set-pieces, a Bloodborne movie would be Van Helsing mixed with the most hideous night terrors and the worst unregistered medical practitioners. It would be a grotesque and thrilling trek through the mournful and dire streets of Yharnam — where the air is choked with the smell of gunpowder and burning lycanthropes — all the way to the darkened abyss of the Pthumerian Labryinth. What makes this idea even sweeter, though, is that Bloodborne is also a personal story. As the hunter ambles back and forth from the Hunter’s Dream to the turmoils of the land, they learn that everyone they meet is undone by the blood. What a movie that would be.
Dishonored is an incredible game on many fronts, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it would make an incredible movie. There’s so much going on throughout the game, and it’s impossible to see it all (especially when playing stealthily), so a movie would allow us to be fully invested in the story without having to worry about gameplay. Eliminating player agency — and the mistakes that brings — would allow for some incredible stunt sequences throughout the movie as well. Imagine watching Corvo use all of his powers together, without the possibility of it all going wrong from a botched blink. We already got a glimpse of this with Dishonored 2’s live-action trailers, which serve as an excellent proof of concept for a Dishonored movie.
The Dishonored universe is deep and complex, and there’s always something new to learn, which is why a Dishonored movie shouldn’t stick to the plot of a game. There are 15 years in between Dishonored and its sequel that we don’t know much about, so tell us what Corvo and Emily were doing in that time. It would also allow us to see exactly why Emily should be Empress, which wasn’t really touched on as much as it should have been in either game. Let Corvo deal with the action setpieces, have Emily do some political maneuvering and you’ve got a story that gives both of our main characters something interesting to do. A part-political thriller, part-fantasy action movie would be ideal, perhaps more modeled off Dishonored 2’s style than the original. Just downplay the morality system, bring us “Die Hard with superpowers”, and I’ll be a very happy man.
Boasting a trilogy of utterly spectacular games, the BioShock franchise has been a fan favourite for the better part of a decade. The pure creativity, complexity and genius that has gone into these games is almost incomprehensible. Since the original game’s release in late 2007, fans have clamoured for the series to be made into movies because they genuinely believe that the BioShock games could buck the trend of miserable game to silver-screen transitions. Admittedly, the games’ atmosphere and concepts could be difficult to translate to the big screen, but if managed correctly it would be a thing of beauty. The complexity of a BioShock movie’s plot would be riveting and intriguing and Rapture — in all of its dark, gloomy and mysterious glory — would be a world of fun to explore. If studios found the first two BioShock games too challenging to adapt, they could settle for the highly vibrant and colourful, yet mysterious and violent world of BioShock: Infinite, a world that would surely appeal to a wider audience due to that colour and vibrancy.
People would absolutely flock to the cinemas to see these movies; hype alone would generate monstrous crowds, while long-time series fans would be front and centre come release day (and scouring the internet for details beforehand). With such incredible stories, jaw-dropping visuals and immersive settings, it would be a disservice to such a venerable franchise if it didn’t grace the silver screen.
Emily: Horizon Zero Dawn
Having won E3 2016’s Game Critic Award for Best Original Game, Horizon Zero Dawn is a spectacle of colour and beauty that blew gamers away this year with its original storytelling and breathtaking imagery; aspects that would translate wonderfully to the big screen, especially combined with its unique atmosphere and incredible story. A Horizon Zero Dawn movie’s success would rest upon its novel usage of the post-apocalyptic genre: Instead of the done-to-death zombie apocalypse destroying humanity, Horizon Zero Dawn showcases how technology can send society back into the stone age. Not only that, but the game’s heroine, Aloy, fighting a bunch of robot dinosaurs would just be badass.
With an amazing story and a fantastic lead character, Horizon Zero Dawn was something new and different; something that gamers had never seen before. Translated onto the big screen, it would provide an explosion of colour and breathtaking action to go along with the chance to learn more about Aloy and relate to her struggle to survive — and learn about her own origins — in a primitive society that has rendered her an outcast… And don’t forget the robot dinosaurs.
Jake: The Last of Us
The Last of Us arguably stands tall not only as the magnum opus amongst Naughty Dog’s incredible body of work, but as one of the games of the seventh console generation, owing almost completely to its ability to tell a phenomenal story through what is essentially a glorified escort mission. The secret formula lay in Naughty Dog’s understanding of when it was time to turn the “survival horror” off and focus on telling an actual story; this resulted in some powerfully emotional moments and some endearingly funny ones, helping the player develop a relationship with the characters and the unique situation they were in. It was hard for a player not to genuinely care about Joel and Ellie and the characters they met on their journey, despite the whole “zombie apocalypse” deal going on around them.
Storytelling and character development aside, though, The Last of Us had a rather unique atmosphere that sets it well apart from the zombie sub-genre. The game brought a more subdued brand of horror to the table, one that was rarely — if ever — frightening, instead relying on its soundtrack to build constant tension and have the player expecting something scary to happen; it’s a brand of horror that would undoubtedly translate well onto the big screen, turning the property into a hybrid of horror and thriller and something that even this horror-hater would turn out to see on opening day.
Jared: Batman: Arkham franchise
If Warner Bros. is so hell-bent on turning DC Comics into a successful film franchise, it would be a great idea to start reworking the universe from the ground up, with one dedicated team of producers who all see eye-to-eye in regards to its end goal. In a perfect universe, this rework would begin with the company turning the Batman: Arkham titles into films. The series has all the hallmarks of a great superhero film: a small, enclosed environment, a cast of recognisable and relatable characters, and a ticking clock that constantly raises the stakes.
To date, Warner Bros. has given its comic-based films plots that are simply too scattered and confusing to engage the viewer, a problem that could be solved by bringing the story down to its bare bones and letting Batman and his colourful rogues’ gallery fill the rest. The movie wouldn’t need to follow the story of any single Arkham title; a good start would be using the first game’s setting and the second game’s villain to come up with a storyline where Doctor Hugo Strange takes over the Asylum, tortures the inmates relentlessly, and then loses control over it, forcing Batman and his friends to swoop in and help clean up the mess. A consistent visual tone is also key here, so bringing in some of the artists who worked on the three games (and made Gotham feel so familiar by the third one) would be a wise move. With the Arkham series as a base, Warner Bros. would be able to churn out films for all the key members of the Justice League and eventually release an Injustice movie.
On the other hand, Wonder Woman was amazing… So perhaps just let Patty Jenkins handle it all.
Rhys: The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Fantasy epics usually find considerable success at the box office (see a certain Lord of the Rings), and with the success of the Dark Fantasy epic, Game of Thrones, gaming fans as well as the average moviegoer are more than ready for The Witcher series to be adapted to the big screen. Born from the imagination of Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher books inspired arguably one of the greatest games ever made. With a story worthy of a fantasy blockbuster and characters who are just as memorable (despite their flaws), The Witcher III: Wild Hunt could very well bring an end to the long line of terrible video game adaptations.
Hell, the intriguing and expansive Witcher universe could even spawn a story that is disconnected from the universe within the games/books. A story focusing on Geralt’s childhood and upbringing as a cold-hearted monster hunter would make a fascinating and heart-wrenching watch. Personally, I would love to see a retelling of how Geralt got his moniker, ‘The Butcher of Blaviken’ — one of my favourite stories in the compilation published as The Last Wish — and considering that The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is already a cinematic fantasy epic (just in game form), studios might find it easier to translate its story to the big screen. Either way, I would be there, waiting in line at the midnight screening, Witcher medallion in hand (or pocket, depending on whether I want popcorn).
As always, we’ve got finite space to make our suggestions and so we’re sure to have gleaned over a game or two that you think would make a good movie. Be sure to get involved in the discussion via the comments section or the links below and let us know what your pick would have been!