Have you ever finished a book and longed to be placed back in that world? Short of a sequel, it’s not often we get the opportunity to delve back into the stories crafted by authors and read-a-likes can only scratch that itch for so long.
If you’re anything like me, you may fill in your free time with video games when you’re not reading, and with summer starting, gaming can be a fun hobby you can enjoy away from the heat.
I enjoy single player narrative games because they can feel like books that you have an active role in. As a player, you unravel the story and can sometimes even influence it with certain actions or decisions. This interaction can feel more engaging, and trying out games can expose you to different stories you never would have found otherwise. However, if you’re looking for a little bit of familiarity, here are some games and books with similar themes and worlds.
Dredge - Somewhat Cozy Fishing Simulator
My first suggestion comes from one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, The Fisherman by John Langan, and if you’ve read it, you know that it’s a dread-inducing story about grief and primordial gods. The game I’ve paired it with is a fairly new indie title called “Dredge”, and it was the inspiration for this list. It’s an open world fishing game in which you play an amnesiac sailor who sails around catching fish, helping people, and unearthing eldritch creatures and artifacts. Despite its eerie atmosphere, the game can be very relaxing, and if you like collecting items, the game hosts a large collection of fish with different variations to keep you out at sea and a variety of different fishing mini-games that aren’t too complex. This game is available on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Playstation, and PC.
Dear, Esther - Atmospheric Island Mystery
Another recent book I’ve read, Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey, features a woman returning to her childhood home with her estranged mother and uncovering dark secrets about her father’s past that still lurk in the walls of the house he built. During this read, I couldn’t help but think of the 2012 mystery/exploration game, “Dear, Esther”, and if you like atmospheric slow burns, you might enjoy this game too. Controversial upon release, this game follows an unnamed protagonist as they explore an uninhabited Scottish island, finding letters and tapes left by a man that talks about his late wife, Esther. The whole point of the game is to collect these keepsakes and piece together their fates, of which more info is given upon new playthroughs. While many people found this game too boring for its lack of action, it acts as a beautiful visual novel that can be a great intro to gaming if you find other titles to be too complex or over-stimulating. This game is available on the Xbox, Playstation, and PC.
Red Dead Redemption - Grand Theft Equestrian
If you want more action and freedom in your games, and you enjoy western epics with compelling stories, I suggest trying out Red Dead Redemption 1 or 2. Similar in tone to other famous westerns like Tucker by Louis L’Amour and Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, RDR puts you in the shoes of a former criminal who is blackmailed by the government into hunting down his former crew and bringing them to justice. This plot, compounded by the open world of the game in which you can ride around the 20th century South taking bounties, racing horses, and playing cards amounts to hours of gameplay, and the sequel expands on everything that made the original great with cutting edge graphics that make a stunning world captivating. Red Dead Redemption is available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Red Dead Redemption 2 is available on current gen Xbox, Playstation, and PC.
Bloodborne - Werewolves and Aliens and Squids, Oh my!
Interested in some creepier, gothic world-building? In the same vein as books like Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey and Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe, Bloodborne is an open world third-person action RPG (role-playing game) in which you take on the role of a hunter of beasts in a run-down Victorian city overrun by creatures and madmen alike. Created by the same team behind Dark Souls, these games are notoriously difficult and vague in their storytelling, relying on players to discern many elements from character interactions, item descriptions, and the world around them. This level of difficulty can be a huge turn-off for new players, but it can be equally rewarding when you do make progress on a particularly hard section. Plus, persevering through the game’s obstacles will reward you with new weapons, areas, and allow you to delve deeper into this game’s dark and sinister world. This game is available exclusively on Playstation consoles.
L.A. Noire - Press "X" to Doubt
Enjoy mysteries that you can sink your teeth into? If you enjoy Michael Connelly’s mysteries or thrillers like James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia, then you should try L.A. Noire, a critically acclaimed detective game in which you take the reigns as a detective in 1940s L.A. to solve a host of different mysteries. While this game debuted in 2011, it was cutting edge for its time with its interview mechanics, open world, and nonlinear progression. You get to interview who you want, make accusations, and come to your own conclusions based on evidence and testimony. Once you're confident you've got your suspect, you can race through the streets of L.A., sirens blaring, to arrest your perp, but make your choice wisely or it could be game over for your career in policing. This game is available on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Playstation, and PC.
If you don't play video games, hopefully, this blog will inspire you to try them out and experience stories in a different medium, and if you're already an avid gamer, hopefully, it inspires you to check out our collections and find a new world to jump into! While you're here, take a look at our blog on Tears of the Kingdom, the newest installment to the Legend of Zelda franchise, and since June is right around the corner, listen to this episode of our HCPL podcast about PRIDE History and RPG gaming.