Art always seems to inspire more art. In true fashion, many video games are based on movies and use many storytelling techniques also used in the film industry. But did you know that the inspiration for some games goes back hundreds of years?
Classic literature is classic for a reason: Because their themes and stories remain relevant centuries after their authors have passed on. It seems that the video game industry is more cultured than we ever thought, as many titles take direct inspiration from works of literature. Whether a quote inspired the creation of a storyline, or a whole story is adapted to the in-game universe, classic books still have a place in today's media.
9 Assassin's Creed – Influenced By Almut
Alamut was a book written in 1938 by Vladimir Bartol. This novel served as the inspiration for Assassin's Creed. It takes place in 11th century Iran, where a fortress, named Alamut proudly stands. 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 many stealth killings of his enemies for him. The inspirations are quite obvious, from the band of assassins to the fort Alamut, which is also featured in the game.
8 Alan Wake – Influenced By Stephen King's Works
Remedy Entertainment, publishers of this hit title, haven't outright said it, 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's little fun to be had in explanations."
If that isn't enough to convince you, the game recreates the axe scene from The Shining almost shot one to one. Wake also has to navigate a hedge maze that is reminiscent of The Shining, and he is nearly run over by a driverless car multiple times – a likely reference to King's novel Christine.
Shigesato Itoi, creator of the Mother series obviously needed some outlandish inspiration for his dark RPG. He seems to have found them in two works of literature called The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut, and The Body by Stephen King. Porky seems to be based on an alien from The Sirens of Titan called Winston Niles Rumfoord. Both seem to be immortal, both are wealthy aristocrats, and both are worshipped as a god when they come into power of their respective circles.
You most likely are somewhat familiar with The Body. It is a short story by Stephen King where four young boys go to play on some train tracks and discover the dead body of a child there. Sounds a bit like the party system and the innocence-turned-terror of the Mother series huh? Food for thought.
6 Detroit Become Human – Influenced By I, Robot
Detroit Become Human seems to take heavy inspiration from the novel I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. This has not been confirmed by the developers, but the themes are all there. Robots gain intelligence, robots disobey human oppressors, robots and humans must now figure out where conciseness ends and machine begins.
What the developers have said directly is The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil was a huge inspiration for the game. This book details how AI will become so advanced that they will be essentially indistinguishable from humans, not in a few centuries, but in the coming decades. The scariest part of this book is that it is not science fiction, it is a predictive text based on current and emerging technologies.
5 Last Of Us – Influenced By The Road
Naughty Dog has been very open about the fact that this critically acclaimed title was heavily influenced by Cormac McCarthy's The Road. The novel features an unnamed man and an unnamed boy who tour the bombed-out ruins of North America.
The themes shared by The Last Of Us and The Road run parallel. Both are post-apocalyptic stories following a father-child duo surviving the wastes of America. They both also feature long stretches of almost peaceful silence that are abruptly interrupted by bursts of violence and shootouts.
4 Horizon Zero Dawn – Influenced By Ancient Tales
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. the last century), this game takes inspiration from the very beds of humanity. Fitting considering the story of the game and the themes of rebuilding 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 overcome with such primitive weapons. To see a human take out a cybernetic Tyrannosaurus Rex with only a bow and arrow must look like a demi-god performing a feat of unknowable strength.
Regardless, we can all thank Larry Niven for the Halo we know and love today.
3 Castlevania – Influenced By Dracula
Castlevania has a number of inspirations, the most glaringly obvious being Bram Stoker's Dracula. However, we wouldn't have made this an entry if we couldn't teach you something new.
Did you know that Castlevania also appears to draw inspiration from almost every influential horror novel through history? Malachi is a creature that could have come straight from the mind of Lovecraft. Carmilla is based on a novella by the same name that actually predates Dracula, and was most likely the inspiration for that work. Finally, Barbariccia is a demon enemy that was ripped straight from Dante's Divine Comedy.
2 Fallout – Influenced By A Canticle For Leibowitz
Fallout took inspiration from a lesser-known book titled A Canticle For Leibowitz. This post-apocalyptic novel takes place after thermonuclear war engulfed the world. What little amount of humanity remained had a violent backlash toward all things technology and reverted back to simplistic living, while factions of humans preserve knowledge from the before times, in hopes that humanity can rebuild once again.
The novel focuses on many of the same themes as Fallout. These being cyclical history and the depravity of man during and after war. Interestingly, Walter M. Miller, Jr. the author of the novel, continues the narrative into the future after mankind has recovered and rediscovers nuclear technology. So for a possible sneak peek into the future of the Fallout franchise give this book a read.
1 The Binding Of Isaac – Influenced by The Bible
Any fans of Edmund McMillan's hit indie title will immediately know what book inspired this game. The Binding Of Isaac follows the journey of a little boy who tries to rationalize his abusive upbringing, while also trying to detangle it from his religious trauma.
This top-down RPG contains heaps of iconography from the Bible, which also serves as the source of the title. Every unlockable character is named for a figure from the holy text. Many items are based on relics or artifacts mentioned in the Bible. Isaac can even face-off with Satan as one of the final bosses in the game.
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