Video games are such a unique form of media. Player agency and choice are a big part of what makes games different from other forms of storytelling but dynamic circumstances may be the most striking difference. 

Experiencing a series, film, or book for the second or tenth time can still be special. Sometimes we can even discover new interpretations or see different details that previously seemed unimportant.

Video games still have static sequences and specific points that are on a set path, but games can also be programmed to react to player actions. OrBoo follow a new path because of different criteria you’ve met or because it’s the eighth playthrough. 

Everyone that watched Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow in theaters largely had the same experience. Some people might miss some parts if they get up. Dads don’t get anything after the Junior Mints run out so they’re only catching the first twenty minutes.

But the film plays out the same each and every time, regardless of how you feel or react. And that’s just one of the reasons horror stories work so well. Pulling the player into the madness and making them a part of the text changes everything, which is why we need more video game adaptations like I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream

Pages into Polygons — Horror Haunts That Should Be Games 

The Shining

Who wouldn’t want to visit the Overlook Hotel in a game? I’m actually surprised it hasn’t happened yet. I’m envisioning a first-person experience where players are put in control of Jack, Wendy, and Danny at different points of the story. 

The first-person perspective will allow players to see exactly what the Torrance family is able to see. Exploration could be a primary focus and it should work well since each of the different family members will have different objectives. 

There could be different levels of corruption and madness in different rooms. The game could be programmed to do hundreds of different actions and enemy appearances based on different variables, including time of day, hotel room, and what character players are using. 

A video game adaption of The Shining could work so well, especially if combat was left out of the game. I mean, some combat and struggle could work. But The Shining’s setting, story, characters, and structure baked onto a Clock Tower framework could work so well. 

Some Resident Evil-style puzzles and Metroidvania elements for exploration and this could be an instant classic. 

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The spooky campfire anthology series from Nickelodeon is a classic. Some of the stories were terrifying but I think they’re best left to the show. The delivery, aesthetic, and atmosphere of the show are simply perfect. 

Now it’s time for Nickelodeon to cash in on the nostalgia of millennials that are currently seeking heavy doses of both nostalgia and escape. A VR game where people can all sit around the classic campfire, hang out, and tell stories, complete with the classic sounds and animations from the series. 

And actually with how scary everything is, we could all just sit around the fire and share news stories before throwing sand on the fire and saying goodbye with a campfire singalong of Bo Burnham’s All Eyes on Me. There’s nothing left for us to fear anyway and it’ll help us stay on top of current events. 

The Stand 

Stephen King’s The Stand was made to be a game. Imagine State of Decay 2 mixed with a Rockstar-style sandbox game in terms of storytelling and presentation. Don’t worry, we’ll put another studio in charge of controls. 

Original side quests along with some based on smaller details in the text could be set against the main story for a full and rich experience. Imagine taking a customized character through The Stand solo or with a friend.

The game’s engine and assets could probably even be used to adapt shorter King stories that could be referred to as Myths or something in the world. Lost stories that are now only quiet whispers. I don’t know. Just don’t let Ubisoft make it. I want this to be a game I can finish. 

The Lottery 

The Lottery is a simple story but that doesn’t make its premise any less horrifying. Set in a fictional small town in the United States, the story follows an annual ritual known as “the lottery.”

A member of the community is selected by chance. Something shocking happens to the chosen person. And then life continues on as “normal.” 

I wouldn’t dare give anything details away from Shirley Jackson’s classic short story. But you could find out what happens when you read it. Or while playing it. And the game could be different every single time. 

Sometimes you’re chosen. Sometimes someone else is chosen. But either way, you’re a part of the community and its customs. Let’s not put this one in VR. 

Related: 5 Xbox Originals That Still Need to Come Series X|S