Books In Video Games: New Takes On Classic Stories

One of the best things about video games are their rich and amazing plots. With all the games like “Bioshock” and “Mass Effect” that have new and original plots, it’s easy to overlook the games that decided to take classic stories and characters and put their own spin on them. Here are some of our top picks for video games that are adapted from books.

Nancy Drew series by HerInteractive

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My personal favorite series or game from this list is HerInteractive’s stunning, ongoing Nancy Drew series. Since 1998 they’ve been adapting Nancy Drew books into interactive mystery-adventure games “for girls who aren’t afraid of a mouse.” Then again, I might be a bit biased seeing as I’ve been practically a lifelong fan—my grandmother got me two of the games for Christmas when I was younger and I’ve been hooked ever since.

These games are plot-heavy but still look great, and have a variety of interesting characters with backstories to snoop into, and puzzles that are fun and challenging but not too difficult that they make you “rip your hair out in frustration.” One of the best features about the games is that they have a different “detective level” that you can choose which alters the puzzle difficulty without changing the plot or game mechanics. There’s also a hint system where you can call Nancy’s friends—Ned, Bess, George or even the Hardy Boys—when you get stuck, which is super useful.

While some of the newer games are a little shaky in terms of plot and execution, they’re still worth playing through for the gorgeous visuals, fun characters and puzzles. Not to mention, I always enjoy a game. With a variety of settings and spookiness, there’s plenty to satisfy any mystery fan. Personal picks: Treasure in the Royal Tower, Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake and Alibi in Ashes. The games are all available for PC with the newer games also released on Mac and a select few ported to DVD, Nintendo Wii, iPad, iPhone and Android.

Sherlock Holmes series by Frogwares

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Polish game development company, Frogwares, has designed a great game series based on the Sherlock Holmes stories. The games are available on several platforms including PC and Nintendo DS and 3DS. Unlike the Nancy Drew series, Frogwares produces both casual, hidden-object oriented games and more adventure-themed games, but if you’re a fan of puzzles you’ll enjoy them all.

One of the best features of the series is the inclusion of crossover installments where Sherlock and Watson square off against Jack the Ripper and famous thief Arsene Lupin, as well as a crossover with the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft. While Sherlock provides enough of a draw on his own and all of the games are satisfying, the crosssovers are a fun way to break up the series and introduce a new element and storytelling opportunities. Most of the games do feature original plots, which is also nice for fans of the Arthur Conan Doyle series as the games don’t feel like you’re just playing through one of the books, knowing what’s going to happen next. It’s fresh and offers a new perspective on the classic Sherlock Holmes world to explore.

The latest installment “The Testament of Sherlock Holmes” has a fantastic plot and graphics and received both critical acclaim and fan praise, with its sequel “Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments” due out this month on PC, PS3/4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth by Bethesda Softworks and Headfirst Productions

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Bethesda Softworks, the game studio acclaimed for its Elder Scrolls series (Skyrim for those of you less video-game savvy folks) teamed up with Headfirst Productions for this take on H.P. Lovecraft’s spooky canon. Released for both PC and Xbox.* Unlike the other games on this list, it’s of the survival horror genre where the goal of the game is to survive. This usually involving copious amounts of running, hiding, stealth and a fair amount of monster slaying, as opposed to the more common horror games in which your character usually just kills the things trying to kill you with less subtlety and tact.

This game is a cult classic. After having initially achieved critical success and commercial failure, the planned sequels were scrapped due to Headfirst’s inability to find another publisher after Bethesda withdrew involvement on the sequels. However, the game has endured as a great, fun example of the horror genre and is available on Steam for Windows.

This game is bone-chillingly creepy, with a dark atmosphere, a fantastic background score and an exceedingly complex plot. And that’s not a bad thing. I personally love a complicated plot, but hold on to your hats because oof. With all the Lovecraft staples there’s a pantheon of creepy gods, a sadistic cult, a shoot-out with the police to kick things off in the beginning and a confused, naive but well-meaning protagonist (i.e. you.) If you like horror or the Cthulhu mythos, give it a whirl—you won’t be disappointed.

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