Games inspired by classic literature

Art always seems to inspire more art. Truth be told, a lot of video games are based on movies and use a lot of storytelling techniques that are also used in the movie industry. But did you know that the inspiration for some games dates back hundreds of years?

Related: The Best Games With Lore Based On Greek Mythology

Classical literature is classic for a reason: because their themes and stories remain relevant centuries after the death of their authors. It appears that the video game industry is more cultured than previously thought, as there are many titles that are directly inspired by literary works. Whether a quote inspired the creation of a storyline or an entire story is adapted to the game world, classic books still have a place in today’s media.

9 Assassin’s Creed – Influenced by Almut

Cover of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood with Ezio in the center

Alamut is a book written in 1938 by Vladimir Bartol. This novel served as inspiration for Assassin’s Creed. It takes place in 11th-century Iran, where a fortress proudly stands, named Alamut. The fortress is home to an elite band of fighters commanded by the fierce Hasan-i Sabbah.

In this fortress, Sabbah trains his men to become “living daggers” and they perform numerous stealth killings of his enemies for him. The inspirations are pretty obvious, from the gang of assassins to Fort Alamut, also present in the game.


8 Alan Wake – Influenced by the work of Stephen King

Screenshot of Alan Wake featuring the character with his pistol drawn

Remedy Entertainment, the editors of this hit title, didn’t say it outright, but Alan Wake takes many notes from the pages of Stephen King. The game literally opens with a quote from Stephen King: “Nightmares exist outside of logic and there is little fun in explanations.”

If that’s not enough to convince you, the game recreates The Shining’s ax scene almost turned one by one. Wake also has to navigate a maze of hedges reminiscent of The Shining, and he’s nearly run over by a driverless car several times – a likely reference to King’s novel Christine.

seven Tied to the earth

Earthbound Cover Art with Ness, Jeff Andonuts, Paula Polestar and Poo

Shigesato Itoi, creator of the series Mother, obviously needed some wacky inspiration for his dark RPG. He seems to have found them in two literary works entitled The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut, and The Body by Stephen King. Porky appears to be based on an alien from The Sirens of Titan called Winston Niles Rumfoord. Both appear to be immortal, both are wealthy aristocrats, and both are worshiped as a god when they rise to power in their respective circles.

You probably know The Body a little bit. It is a short story by Stephen King where four young boys go to play on the tracks and discover the corpse of a child there. Sounds a bit like the party system and innocence turned terror of the Mother series, eh? Food for thought.

6 Detroit becomes human – Influenced by me, robot

Detroit becomes the art of human title

Detroit Become Human seems to draw heavily on the novel I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. It hasn’t been confirmed by the developers, but the themes are all there. Robots are gaining intelligence, robots are disobeying human oppressors, robots and humans now have to figure out where the conciseness ends and where the machine begins.

What the developers said directly Ray Kurzweil’s is The Singularity Is Near was a great inspiration for the game. This book details how AI will become so advanced that it will be essentially indistinguishable from humans, not in a few centuries, but in decades to come. The scariest part of this book is that it’s not science fiction, it’s predictive text based on current and emerging technologies.

5 Last Of Us – Influenced By The Road

Screenshot of Last Of Us with Ellie and Joel Driving

Naughty Dog has been very open that this critically acclaimed title has been heavily influenced by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The novel features an anonymous man and boy who roam the bombed-out ruins of North America.

Related: Games Inspired By Celtic Mythology

The themes shared by The Last Of Us and The Road run parallel. Both are post-apocalyptic stories following a father-child duo who survived the waste of America. They also both feature long periods of almost peaceful silence that are abruptly interrupted by bursts of violence and shootings.

4 Horizon Zero Dawn – Influenced by Ancient Tales

Horizon Zero Dawn Title Art with Alloy

Horizon Zero Dawn is a bit of an outlier on this list. While most of our other titles are based on fairly recent novels (i.e. from the last century), this game draws inspiration from the very beds of humanity. Suitable given the history of the game and the themes of the reconstruction of civilization.

Horizon Zero Dawn draws inspiration from ancient epic tales such as The Epic of Gilgamesh and Ben-Hur to create their story and setting. This makes sense considering the Herculean tasks Alloy has to accomplish with such primitive weapons. Seeing a human take down a cybernetic Tyrannosaurus Rex with only a bow and arrows must look like a demigod performing a feat of unknowable force.

Either way, we can all thank Larry Niven for the Halo we know and love today.

3 Castlevania – Influenced by Dracula

Castlevania Advanced Collection Title Art featuring Simon Belmont and Count Dracula

Castlevania has a number of inspirations, the most glaring being Bram Stoker’s Dracula. However, we wouldn’t have made an entry if we couldn’t teach you something new.

Did you know that Castlevania also seems to take inspiration from almost every influential horror novel in history? Malachi is a creature that could have come straight out of Lovecraft’s mind. Carmilla is based on a short story of the same name which actually predates Dracula and likely was the inspiration for this work. Finally, Barbariccia is a demonic foe who was snatched straight from Dante’s Divine Comedy.

2 Fallout – Influenced by a hymn for Leibowitz

The Sole Survivor and Dogmeat in Fallout 4

Fall was inspired by a lesser-known book called Un cantique pour Leibowitz. This post-apocalyptic novel is set after the thermonuclear war engulfs the world. What little humanity was left underwent a violent backlash against all things tech and reverted to a simplistic life, as human factions preserve the knowledge from before, in the hope that humanity can rebuild itself. again.

The novel focuses on many of the same themes as Fallout. It is about the cyclical history and the depravity of man during and after the war. Interestingly, Walter M. Miller, Jr., the author of the novel, continues the story into the future after humanity has recovered and rediscovers nuclear technology. So, for a possible glimpse into the future of the Fallout franchise, read this book.

1 The Binding of Isaac – Influenced by the Bible

The binding of Isaac Afterbirth + Title Art

Any fan of Edmund McMillan’s hit indie hit will know immediately what book inspired this game. The Binding Of Isaac follows the journey of a little boy who tries to rationalize his abusive upbringing, while trying to untangle it from his religious trauma.

This top-down RPG features loads of iconography from the Bible, which also serves as the source for the title. Each unlockable character bears the name of a figure from the sacred text. Many objects are based on relics or artifacts mentioned in the Bible. Isaac can even take on Satan as one of the game’s last bosses.

Next: The Great Games You Didn’t Know Were Based On Books

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