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These Enthralling Video Game Stories Could Never Be Filmed

Updated October 19, 2020 439 votes 79 voters 3.7k views15 items

List RulesVote up the video game plots that should stay in the realm of gaming.

Movies based on video games are notoriously bad. Some doubt it's even possible to make a good video game movie, as Rampage currently holds the highest Rotten Tomatoes score for any such film at 52%. While those willing to make the leap between mediums certainly deserve praise, certain properties should never even be considered - some video games would make terrible movies. Video games disqualified from movie adaptations aren't just those with weak or shallow stories; plenty of games with deeply compelling plots should be avoided by movie studios at all costs due to the nature of their content.

The best games with the best stories are usually those in which the gameplay takes full advantage of the medium to create an experience unattainable through any other form of storytelling. The interactive nature of video games is what makes them truly unique; when game developers utilize the tactility and other sensory stimuli only their medium can offer, they have the opportunity to create an unrivaled event - and it's exactly these video games that should never be made into movies.

  • In Dark Souls, you play as the Chosen Undead, a character cursed to be resurrected after each of his demises until he can ultimately restore life to the entire world. Integral to that sense of despair and eventual victory is the actual experience of perishing frequently and repeatedly - in increasingly frustrating ways - in order to achieve that ultimate goal.

    In the context of a film, an immortal protagonist would likely remove all stakes for many viewers. Unless the movie is a dozen hours long, prolonged by the character's repeated demises, it's virtually impossible for the viewer to become invested - certainly not after the second resurrection. For example, when Doctor Strange faced the entity Dormammu in the Marvel hero's first solo film, many were unconcerned for the Sorcerer Supreme's wellbeing after his first demise and subsequent reversal of time.

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  • Shadow of the Colossus could make an excellent movie, save for a few elements: primarily, there are 16 colossi, and unless you're actively involved in seeking out those giants, watching the same events occur 16 times will quickly become boring.

    Additionally, there isn't much in the game's world to explore. You play as one man in a forbidden land traveling great stretches with nothing but horizon in sight. The setting is simply too sparse to turn into a film, although the sense of solitude is perfectly fitting for a video game. While movies like Cast Away or Gravity share similar austerity, there is much to absorb during those long stretches where Tom Hanks's or Sandra Bullock's characters are, respectively, alone.

    The protagonist's morality would also pose a challenge for a potential movie adaptation. Wander, the main character, acts immorally in his unceasing pursuit to bring his love back to life, a grayness that may turn off many moviegoers if not done properly.

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  • Portal begins as a normal puzzle game with clear-cut levels until one of these levels breaks and the player glimpses the sinister underpinnings of Aperture Laboratories. What is so enveloping and rewarding about Portal is the frequent sense of accomplishment with each puzzle solved. This sense of personal victory cannot be mimicked in film, as it requires interactivity which the film medium has yet to provide.

    Portal's experience is deepened existentially by the surprisingly complex story - as with many video games, the player's sense of urgency and danger is heightened thanks to their own participation.

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  • Photo: Nintendo

    Most - if not all - Zelda games would be impossible to adapt to the big screen, but Ocarina of Time poses a special challenge. Each of the nine dungeons appearing in the game serves a purpose, providing Link with key items required to move the story forward. However, following a character through a series of puzzle-riddled temples would likely make a monotonous film.

    In addition, the game's internal logic requires Link to travel back and forth in time. Time-travel isn't inherently problematic in a film context, but doing so repeatedly could become redundant, although the element makes perfect sense within the game's story.

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