Developer Telltale Games has just wrapped up its five-episode "season" of games based on the mega-popular series of graphic novels, The Walking Dead. The smart money says the team will keep the momentum going and get started on Season 2, but if it wants to keep us all in suspense for a little longer, I can think of a few other properties that could benefit from the sort of faithful and nuanced treatment we got for the zombie-apocalypse drama. I don't expect to see these titles actually come out, but this is the Internet, damn it, and it's made of dreams.
1.) The Thing
In 1982, John Carpenter released his classic film The Thing, a brutal, bleak movie about a shapeshifting alien intent on assimilating and imitating every creature on Earth. It came out against Steven Spielberg's E.T., a cuddly, optimistic film about a sad, friendly alien gardener just trying to get home. Guess which one made more money?
Still, I would argue that Carpenter's film is the better story, and it deftly handles complicated issues of trust, paranoia, and what it really means to be human in the presence of an insidious outside threat.
Telltale could easily apply the skills it honed making The Walking Dead and create an amazing, tense game in which players must make tough decisions to determine who among them is really who they claim to be before the tentacles, weird head-mouths, and spider legs start a-sprouting.
Developer Computer Artworks released a sort-of sequel to The Thing back in 2002, and while it was a perfectly decent third-person shooter, its attempts to capture the trust dynamics of the film fell flat. The Thing is not about guns, although it has plenty of those — perhaps even more than an isolated Antarctic science station would seem to need. It's about deciding whether the person standing next to you is still who he was this morning, and what you're prepared to do if he's not. It's about the breakdown of polite society and shit getting really real without warning and people you've grown attached to dying very badly, very suddenly.
Does that remind you of anything else?
You want this hat in a video game. You NEED this hat in a video game.
OK, look. I know this will never happen. But please hear me out.
Zombie Studios has released two games based on the torture-y horror film franchise: 2009's Saw: The Video Game and 2010's Saw II: Flesh & Blood. To this day, however, the best Saw game we've seen is still David Cage's quick-time event-laden Heavy Rain.
Hero Ethan Mars' journey to save his son closely mirrors the paths of Saw's various protagonists (and with similar results, depending on your aptitude for Pressing X to Not Die), and it was full of interesting moral decisions with far-reaching effects on the story's outcome.
The only problem was that it was a David Cage game, and therefore featured writing and acting even worse than the ones in those movies, which include such gems as "YOU LOOK AT ME WHEN YOU'RE KILLING ME!" I'm pretty sure that Telltale's writers could do better than either of them.
They'd have to try really hard to do worse, anyway.
"So, after I get out of this, I just have to play the rest of the game, and I can go home? I think I'd rather just let the clock run out, thanks."
My point is that the Saw franchise would lend itself very well to a Telltale-style adventure game (e.g. "Use scalpel on eye") with the sort of high-pressure, timed decisions we saw in The Walking Dead. And while that would never happen, like, ever, I'd still love to see how it would turn out. I'd probably be the only one, but again: The Internet is made of dreams.
3.) Star Trek
Of course, I complained about the Thing and Saw games years ago (so long ago, in fact, that none of the pictures in that article have survived. But some of them were funny, I promise). What else would be good? Maybe something non-horror, because Telltale made those awesome Back to the Future and Monkey Island games before they unleashed the zombie horde.
I don't know why I'm trying to build suspense here; the third franchise I'm thinking of is right up there in bold letters. Somebody needs to let Telltale make a Star Trek game.
Has any series in the history of everything seen as much neglect and disappointment in video game adaptation as Star Trek (and in such depressing numbers)? Off the top of my head, I can think of a handful of titles that I could grudgingly say were alright, but only because they didn't make me want to snap my controller in half and then eat it after playing them. And that's not really a standard for excellence.
OK, yes. The 25th Anniversary adventure game was awesome. But that was 20 years ago.
I'm not going to claim to know how Telltale could go about making a good Star Trek game, but I would point the developers to every attempt over the past four and a half decades and say, "Hey, don't do most of that."