Gamers are used to being disappointed by the live-action adaptations of their favorite games. Last year, Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed were supposed to change this, but both films received lukewarm receptions. They may have been an improvement on the likes of Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter, but they still didn’t live up to the expectations of most fans.
One day there will be a truly great video game movie (maybe the new Tomb Raider?) but until then, gamers should consider placing their hopes with Netflix. The streaming platform has already proven itself adept at great adapted shows (just look at Netflix’s Marvel output), and now it’s beginning to move into the realm of video games.
An animated Castlevania series debuts this summer, and a series based on The Witcher franchise has just been announced, which fans look forward to with anticipation, eager to see whether Netflix can pull them off. And, if so, which other games deserve adaptations.
Here are the 15 Video Games That Need A Netflix Series.
15. L.A. Noire
As a criminally underappreciated game, L.A. Noire explores the seedy underbelly of 1940s Los Angeles, taking inspiration from films like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. Developed by the now defunct Team Bondi, Noire casts the player as Cole Phelps, an LAPD detective and war veteran struggling to unravel a murderous conspiracy involving the city’s most rich and powerful figures.
Noire uses groundbreaking motion capture technology, and features terrific performances from a number of notable actors, including Aaron Staton, Patrick Fischler, and John Noble.
As cinematic as it is, Noire is a perfect choice for a live-action adaptation. It would be great to see actors like Staton and Noble return to their roles for an adaptation of the game’s story, or a new story altogether. Like the game, each season of the show could revolve around one overarching investigation, with smaller cases sprinkled throughout.
Shenmue is the story of Ryo Hazuki’s quest to bring his father’s murderer to justice. The story began with the release of the first game in 1999, and continued with the sequel in 2001. After that, the series fell into development hell, and fans have been forced to wait… and wait for a resolution.
Series creator Yu Suzuki is finally working on the third game, thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign. Suzuki has long said he has grand plans for the Shenmue story, and that it’s meant to unfold across multiple games.
If Suzuki wanted to get really ambitious (and if money was no object), a Netflix series would be a great addition to the franchise. A direct adaptation would work, but an original story would be even better: maybe a prequel exploring the rivalry between Ryo’s father, Iwao, and his killer, Lan Di.
13. Silent Hill
Some of the games have already received live-action adaptations, and Silent Hill is the first of those. The popular survival horror franchise has spawned two films: the first was fairly well received in 2006, but its 2012 sequel was met with less enthusiasm. Instead of making yet another movie out of the property, why not try something different?
The Netflix format would be a perfect fit for Silent Hill. The series is an anthology, with each game featuring a new protagonist. Similarly, each season of the show could feature a new lead character on a journey through the eponymous town.
The town is home to malevolent forces that prey on your worst fears and regrets, meaning each season could go in a completely different direction, depending on who the protagonist is. This would leave a lot of room for creative scriptwriters.
12. Grand Theft Auto
The Grant Theft Auto franchise is such a perfect fit a live-action adaptation, and it’s surprising that there hasn’t been any yet. The games obviously take considerable inspiration from crime dramas, so it’s probably inevitable that they will eventually inspire a film or television series.
If Netflix wants to bring the violent world of GTA to their subscribers, they have no shortage of story options. They could adapt the stories of established protagonists like Tommy Vercetti, Carl Johnson, or Niko Bellic, or utilize GTA 5’s trio of leads: Michael, Trevor, and Franklin. Or, they could simply make use of a GTA setting like Liberty City and San Andreas, and populate it with new characters. Each season could feature a different lead, or the same lead and a different heist.
11. Murdered: Soul Suspect
One of the more unique games to hit consoles in recent years is Murdered: Soul Suspect, which places gamers in the ghostly shoes of Ronan O’Connor, a recently deceased police detective. Murdered by the serial killer he was trying to apprehend, Ronan’s spirit is unable to move on until he brings the killer to justice.
Stuck in his spectral form, Ronan must uncover the identity of the “Bell Killer,” while also helping other wandering spirits find peace. It’s a well-done supernatural mystery/thriller, and a direct adaptation would most likely be amazing.
The history of the Salem Witch Trials plays a key role in the plot, so several flashbacks to those times could be inserted to flesh out the story. The first season could follow the story of the game, while subsequent seasons could focus on other ghostly heroes and villains.
10. Mortal Kombat
The first Mortal Kombat movie may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but it still ranks as one of the best video game movies of all time. Unfortunately, the sequel, Annihilation, is atrocious. Twenty years later, we still haven’t seen a third film. However, we did get a short-lived television prequel (the fun, albeit low-budget Conquest) and, more notably, Kevin Tancharoen’s short film Rebirth, as well as two seasons of Legacy.
So we know that Mortal Kombat looks pretty good on screen when it’s done right. It doesn’t look like we’ll be getting another round of Legacy shorts, and the oft-rumored third movie/reboot is still in the ether somewhere, so why not bring the franchise to Netflix?
The Legacy project showed the viability of focusing each episode on one of the combatants, before bringing them all together for the tournament. A Netflix series could either build off of what Tancharoen established, or start fresh.
9. Metal Gear Solid
Few video game franchises inspire the kind of passion that Metal Gear does. Each new installment is greeted with fanfare, though the future of the series is uncertain now that creator Hideo Kojima has moved on. Still, fans love the saga of Solid Snake, and a Netflix series could spend years bringing all of Metal Gear’s twists and turns to life.
To say that the plot of the Metal Gear franchise is complicated would be an understatement. Since the release of the first game in 1986, the story has shifted backwards and forwards through time, pulling back layers of intrigue, while continuing to pile on new mysteries. Solid Snake, Liquid Snake, Big Boss, Raiden, Revolver Ocelet, and Quiet– there are way too many characters and stories to fit into a feature film, but a Netflix series could go on for years and never run out of material.
8. Deus Ex
It would probably be challenging to bring the futuristic Deus Ex series to life on a Netflix budget, but hey: special effects technology is improving at an incredible rate, so anything is possible.
The Deus Ex franchise posits a near future defined by incredible technological advances coupled with unending social strife. Gamers enter a world splintered by class war, rampant discrimination, and shadowy organizations bent on controlling society.
In the games, players take on the role of a highly skilled operative, which could be an interesting perspective for a series to focus on. However, it would arguably be even more captivating to experience this futuristic world from the vantage point of an ordinary citizen: what is life like when the rich and powerful have access to life-changing technology, and are disinclined to share it? A potential series could follow such a character, as they become more and more disillusioned with their place in society.
7. The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda franchise is long overdue for an adaptation of some kind. A Netflix series based on the games was actually rumored a few years ago, but nothing ever came of it. This is a shame, because there are a lot of reasons why the streaming service is the perfect platform for a Zelda story.
A movie would be great, no doubt, but the journey taken by Link is more conducive to the television format. In any given adventure, Link starts as an unassuming young man and gradually grows in experience and ability. He goes on small missions (helping townsfolk, tending chores) and bigger ones (traversing dungeons and defeating bosses), all while preparing for battle against the “big bad” (Ganon, usually).
Each game features a different Link who lives in a different time in Hyrule’s history, and emulating this format would allow the series to refresh itself every year or two by taking viewers to a new era.
6. Far Cry
Far Cry is another series that has received a film adaptation, albeit one that was loathed by critics and fans alike. Infamous game-to-film director Uwe Boll helmed the 2008 effort, an adaptation of the first game.
Ubisoft entered the film world last year with the Assassin’s Creed movie, and a new Far Cry adaptation is also on their production slate. Another film could work, but if they want to diversify their adaptations, they should consider a series.
The first order of business should be to adapt Far Cry 3, so that actor Michael Mando can reprise his electrifying performance as the maniacal Vaas Montenegro. He’s already done great work as the character in the game itself, as well as in the Far Cry Experience shorts alongside Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
5. The Last Of Us
A journey for survival across the ravaged landscape of a post-apocalyptic United States sounds like the perfect premise for a series.
There are any number of different directions a Last Of Us series could go in. Of course, a direct adaptation of the main plot is one of them, and it would certainly be compelling. However, there are more imaginative options that could be even better.
A prequel series could follow Joel’s life as a smuggler in the years before he met Ellie, or expand on the latter’s journey in the same way the Last of Us: Left Behind campaign did. Alternatively, a Netflix series could focus on a different group of survivors in a different part of the United States. If they could time the series to release alongside the upcoming sequel, so much the better.
4. Red Dead Redemption
Fans of Red Dead Redemption had to wait a long time for news of a sequel. That news finally arrived late last year, but gamers won’t be able to get their hands on Rockstar’s latest opus until sometime next year.
In a perfect world, there would be a Red Dead Netflix series rolling out this summer to help fans pass the time until they can make their own return journey to the old West. We still don’t know anything about the story of the upcoming sequel, but if it introduces new characters, a series would be a great way to introduce them to fans: ideally by telling a prequel story that ends right before the new game begins.
Some have speculated that the upcoming game could be a prequel about John Marston’s time as an outlaw. If this isn’t the case, that story should still be told, and a series would be the perfect venue.
A Fallout Netflix series could run for ten years or more and never run out of ideas. It could also be a great way for fans of the franchise to remain invested, while they wait for the next installment– we know Bethesda likes to take their time.
The series could follow one protagonist on the franchise’s typical journey: escaping a Vault shelter and then making his or her way across the ruined landscape of the United States. That concept alone could sustain a show for years.
However, an anthology show that switches focus every season would be even better. Imagine a show that visits a different Vault every season, introducing new characters facing their own unique struggles under the “protection” of Vault-Tec. One season could focus on the nefarious company, and dig into their motivations for performing their cruel experiments on Vault residents. There could be a season set in post-apocalyptic New York, followed by one in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Miami.
2. The Elder Scrolls
A Bethesda franchise that is ripe for adaptation is The Elder Scrolls. We know that fantasy can work well on both the big and small screens (The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones), as long as the right talent is in place. Just as with Fallout, an Elder Scrolls Netflix series could run for years and never run the risk of repeating itself.
The Elder Scrolls franchise spans centuries of history in the land of Tamriel, so the possibilities are literally endless. Adaptations of any of the games could run for a number of seasons, but there are other, more imaginative options.
A series starring the legendary Tiber Septim could chronicle his rise as a warrior and the subsequent founding of the Empire. They could also explore some of the backstory presented in Skyrim: the original rise and reign of the dragons, or the war between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion.
Bringing Bioshock to life on the streaming service may not be a realistic expectation, given the effects that would be needed to convincingly capture the underwater realm of Rapture (or the sky-city of Columbia). But imagine if Netflix found a way to make it work.
The Bioshock franchise is incredibly rich with storytelling potential. The games themselves are fantastic stories, but there is also so much more to be told. A prequel novel, Bioshock: Rapture, provided background on Andrew Ryan’s life and his efforts to build the city of Rapture, which is deserving of an adaptation. Alternately, the series could focus on any number of “average” citizens trying to get by in the underwater city, and follow them through the city’s prime, fall and, ultimate destruction.
The same kind of story could be told about Zachary Hale Comstock, the creation of the flying city of Columbia, and the lives led by its citizens.
What are other video games that should be made into Netflix series? Let us know which ones you would want to see in the comments.