The Witcher is coming to Netflix, so what next?
Geralt of Rivia is getting his own boxset for you to watch, so which titles are next to be greenlit?
With recent news that The Witcher will be turned into an animated TV series for Netflix, we take a look at six other franchises just begging for small or even silver screen adaptations.
Yes, these are the games whose stories we want told properly. No box puzzles, no obligatory gun-battling from behind chest-high walls ‒ just a dozen-or-so episodes showing us the people, the places and the stories that make up some of today’s greatest game worlds, told by flesh-and-blood actors who never, ever clip through walls or end up standing dull and unresponsive when their dialogue glitches out.
1. The Last Of Us
It's like: The Walking Dead, with fewer annoying children
Starring: Joel Edgerton as Joel, Maisie Williams as Ellie
A fan tweets: “#GiraffesVsZombies”
A no-brainer opener for any network ‒ something just similar enough to another channel’s mega-hit to get the suits onboard before pitching eight seasons of a gritty, medieval Spyro the Dragon. Even better, the writers at Naughty Dog have done most of the story and characters for you, meaning less work and more puffing on cigars rolled from sweet, sweet gamer dollars that you can ash out in Neil Druckman’s Writers Guild Award trophies.
Sure, you’d need to make a few minor tweaks to The Last of Us during the transition between HDMI inputs ‒ you’d probably want to put a cap on how many scruffy henchmen Ellie attacks in each episode (child labour laws), and cut the amount of time Joel spends pushing crates around Boston like a very, very lost dockworker ‒ but with all the game-y bits cut back, the story is free to burst out like parasitic fungus from the face of a shrieking maniac and infect the brains of the viewing public.
It's like: Band of Brothers meets Robot Wars
Starring: David James as Blisk, Idris Elba as Graves
A fan tweets: “Isn’t that the guy from District 9? #TitanPrawn”
Racism. Political oppression. Robots. An unblinking, timeless examination of man’s inhumanity to man. With robots. If you read Titanfall’s loading screen messages and the captions on the game’s Burn Cards, you’ll know that – somewhere beneath the piles of squashed Grunts ‒ there’s actually quite a cool story smeared under TItanfall’s clomping metal feet.
EA and Respawn seem to have realised the same thing, with Titanfall 2 fixing the original’s weird omission of a proper singleplayer campaign, and the first teaser trailer has us intrigued. For one thing, Blisk, the IMC’s bloodthirsty commander in the field, is back. And he clearly doesn’t think much of you, warning you against being a hero as a dropship full of Grunts tumble feebly out in front of a massive Titan with a sword. The Grunts were always Titanfall’s best characters ‒ bigging up your every move on the battlefield and occasionally grumbling, “I could do that, if I had that guy’s gear,” as you wall-ran past them to glory. Before getting squashed.
So let’s finally hear that story: the tale of the little guy, rising through the ranks, watching his buddies from bootcamp explode in the burst of an Arc Cannon, rising purely through attrition to an officer’s rank in the planet-hopping imperialist military complex of the future. Before getting kicked off a building by a guy in a robot suit for a completely inconsequential number of points.
3. Grim Fandango
It's like: Tim Burton’s The Office
Starring: Benicio del Toro as Manny Calavera, Brian Blessed as Glotis
A fan tweets: “I don’t remember the game but I like Benicio Del Toro in a chef’s hat”
Exposing the lie that after death everyone comes back as a vengeful poltergeist or a powerful undead warrior lord, the dead in Grim Fandango’s underworld work in offices and squabble over stolen commissions. Manny, our hero, toils away his eternity in a company that offers luxury travel packages to the newly-dead ‒ such as a high-speed, luxury train journey to paradise. In other words, Manny’s a schlub ‒ an everyman glumly trotting through life without even the possibility of an untimely death to keep his spirits up. Oh! It’s funny, though. Make sure marketing knows it’s funny.
Who wouldn’t like to watch Del Toro pivoting robotically on the spot looking for clues, his head somewhere between a Mexican Day of the Dead mask and a flat-topped chef’s hat? Particularly in the later chapters, as he travels on a ship and the salt air starts eating away at the glue that holds his tubular skull together.
4. Deus Ex
It's like: House of Cards meets Ghost in the Shell
Starring: Hugh Dancy as Adam Jensen
A fan tweets: “Not sure yet about Hugh Dancy as Adam Jensen #ManKindOfUndecided”
How different House of Cards would be if Underwood occasionally did in a political opponent with his telescopic arm spikes? How many more Emmies might The West Wing have won if Bartlett had covertly disposed of Republicans in the vents of the White House? Deus Ex has everything that a more mature audience would love: political scheming, conspiracy, smart writing, bloody murder. And what it lacks in gratuitous nudity, it makes up for in globe-hopping locations and fashion stylings so cutting-edge Jensen could murder a woefully outclassed street gang with them.
Not that Jensen would necessarily have to be the star, of course. Relative to the series’ history, he’s still the new kid. Any Deus Ex series might well be set in the original’s timeline of 2052. Or somewhere between Mankind Divided’s 2029 and 2052. Or why not base the show around 2003’s Invisible War, delete all traces of yourself from the web and public record and spend the rest of your life on the run from an entire internet of people swarming after you like hornets waving pitchforks? There’s no such thing as bad publicity.
5. The Sims
It's like: The Stepford Wives meets The Truman Show
Starring: Seth Rogen as Your Sim, Eva Longoria as Bella Goth
A fan tweets: “This was a lot darker than I thought it was going to be”
When loveable wastrel Seth Rogen inherits an empty plot of land in a new neighbourhood, it seems like it’s finally time to grow up. But the white picket fences of Neighbourhood 1 hide a sinister secret. Slowly, Rogen comes to realise that there’s something… off, about his new neighbours. Maybe it’s the way their conversations jerk randomly from travel, to weather, to politics, to sports. Or the way they pee on the floor if they can’t find the bathroom. Or the fact that the only purpose in their lives seems to be to work to buy a bigger TV that will only keep them awake because they forgot to turn it off before a busy day working as an astronaut.
Driven insane in his consumerist capitalist prison, a desperate Rogen does the only thing he can: organise a pool party. As his guests splash in the water or chatter inanely in the lounge, we see a dead-eyed Rogen lift out the pool ladder and sell it. Numbly he walks through the gaggle of oblivious house guests, his swim shorts creating bright blue puddles on his expensive carpet. In the kitchen, he piles everything round the stove until a fire breaks out. Then Rogen walks to his bedroom, lies down and closes his eyes.
6. Rocket League
It's like: The Hunger Games meets Top Gear
Starring: A constantly replenished roster of expendable pseudo-celebrities
A fan tweets: “Worse than #TheSims. Horrible. Switching off. #StopItLeague”
The ultimate reality show. Each week, a fresh batch of ageing one-time celebrities are hustled into the Rocket League studio. Nervously, they laugh their way through plugs for their new book or latest appearance on some other, lesser vehicle for the poor-and-fameless. The host nods impatiently. The audience hop anxiously from foot to foot.
Contractual fluff period complete, the contestants are herded to their cars. Technicians strap them in and snap the locks closed. Screaming, they are launched into the arena as an audience of millions bays for blood. The one from Jersey Shore doesn’t even see the giant ball as his transmission locks up and he flips end over end into the woman from the shopping channel. Project Runway collides head-on with America’s Next Top Model, erupting in a fireball of taffeta and hairspray. The Bachelor races towards the open goal, only to be T-boned by Donald Trump’s last Apprentice.
When the clock finally ticks down to zero, the husks of the contestants’ vehicles are scattered silent and unmoving. No points have been scored. The ball lies burst and deflated, as do the dreams of those involved, who climb out of the wreckage, confused as to the life choices they made that led them to this point. They wander off, deliberately avoiding the cameras for the first time in years. When the smoke clears and the cheering dies, it is we, the audience, who are the winners.