Stephen King is known to many as an unparalleled generational writer few can match in word wizardry. With so many novels being adapted to the big screen, I’ve compiled a list of five stories I believe would be excellent candidates to bring to video game platforms. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Kicking off our list is Stephen King’s 1999 gem Dreamcatcher. Set just outside of the fictional town of Derry, Maine – ever heard of it? – Dreamcatcher is an ultimate hero’s tale featuring four young friends that band together to save another teenage boy from sadistic bullies. The heroic act not only adds another tagalong pal to their crew but each of the boys also gains a supernatural power that ultimately changes their lives forever. Years later, now grown men, the group gets the band back together for a hunting excursion that goes awry when a strangely-ill man with uncontrollable flatulence is found in a harrowing blizzard and is invited into the cabin. From there, the fun begins.
Certainly an intriguing candidate, there’s no doubt in my mind that Dreamcatcher would be an absolute killer game for horror-genre fanatics. Loaded with extraterrestrials and an over-zealous military, the story is an epic, mind-bending battle against tyrannical alien forces that would make for a dynamite FPS survival game. If you aren’t familiar with the story, you can pick up the book or watch the movie adaptation. But, without sounding pretentious, the book is always better.
4. Salem’s Lot
Are we ever really tired of a terrorizing vampire adventure? More in the vein of Nosferatu than Twilight, Salem’s Lot was the second book he published, hitting bookstores in 1975. The story follows a successful writer, Ben Mears, who returns home after 25 years to the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot located smack dab in the state of – you guessed it – Maine. When Ben decides to write a book about an old mansion that haunted him as a child, he finds the property has since been purchased by the newly-arrived reclusive Austrian immigrant: Kurt Barlow. And maybe not so coincidentally, droves of vampires slowly begin roaming the town upon Barlow’s arrival. With the threat of these maleficent entities striking so close to home, Ben sets out to find their source with some old and new compatriots.
Don’t let my synopsis fool you: this isn’t your typical vampire story. With its intricate details, ominous setting and supreme storytelling, a move to video game systems would provide us all with a terrifying experience. Most certainly a nail-biting, keep-the-lights-on type of survival game, Salem’s Lot has all the ingredients to change how we view our not-so-friendly neighborhood vampire.
3. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
You want to talk about gut-wrenching survival? Look no further than the psychological thriller The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Trisha McFarland is a nine-year-old child still reeling from a devastating divorce. Now gripped with a growing sense of loneliness while feelings of invisibility around the only people she still shares kinship with, Trisha decides to venture off the trail while on a “family” hike, boasting an attitude of, “I’ll show them.” This would be the beginning of an eight-day trek through an unfamiliar country where she is forced to overcome a fever and active imagination. Trisha must lean on her unpolished survival skills and a manifested image heartthrob, Red Sox Pitcher Tom Gordon. Along the way, Trisha is forced to survive dehydration, confusion and an unknown creature lurking just out of sight.
Another potential survival-style journey, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon would provide gamers a dark, strenuous tale played through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl that questions her existence and faith. It would be a survival game like none other and one that would change the landscape of the horror genre. Many gamers surely share the same sentiment; troubled children in horror games just hit different.
2. The Stand
One of Stephen King’s most well-known stories, The Stand has been a premier subject amongst gaming circles for years. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as it’s a long, and I mean 500,000-total-words-long, post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy that’s set in a future ravaged by a deadly virus (how apropos) dubbed “Captain Trips.” With only 0.6% of the world’s population left, two factions in the United States struggle for survival from the virus…and each other. Each of the group’s leaders, the wicked Randall Flag and self-proclaimed Mother Abigail, look to overcome the societal breakdown, paranoia, outbreak and threat of violence emanating from Randall Flagg’s ragtag bunch of psychopaths.
In a stroke of irony, my summation of The Stand is shorter than the aforementioned King novel due to the story being chock-full of characters, locations, events and bone-chilling confrontations. The Stand would be an enormous game sure to take up mega gigabytes on your system but the gameplay and character development would be well worth it. Players could create their avatar, choose sides, and perform covert missions to stay alive in a world that is far from forgiving.
1. The Dark Tower Series
“The man in black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed.” Finally, we come to the big-kahuna. The story of stories. What’s considered Stephen King’s Magnum Opus, The Dark Tower Series is a tale of multi-dimensional travel, otherworldly beasts, evil painted in crimson and the fight for life across all universes. Several main characters make up the ka-tet, all led by a steadfast gunslinging leader, Roland of Gilead. Roland is on a lifelong pursuit of The Dark Tower, the stone beacon at the center of all worlds, and will do anything to reach the mysterious palace. Along the way, players would encounter mystical beasts, ravenous cannibals, lusting demons, doors that lead to other dimensions and a lovable billy-bumbler that can talk…a little.
The Dark Tower Series is a fantasy/adventure matched in its intricacy only by tales created by J.R Tolkien. Players would be faced with decisions that would change the outcome of the game, the ability to customize their character and skills, the freedom to choose weapons and spells, and the potential for a replayable online mode that would keep us satisfied for years. But because there are so many installments, I would guess developers would take the opportunity to carry out the series with multiple games. To me, these games would blow most RPGs out of the proverbial water.
As a parting sentiment, shoutout to Stephen King, because without him, this article wouldn’t exist. If you love it, know that Stephen King wrote It– literally.