There was a period when every major cinema release would have a hastily-developed game to go alongside it. And even though that doesn’t happen as often these days, the predictably poor quality of these releases made the very idea of a game based on a movie repulsive to most people. But there are a few PC games out there that buck the trend. Only some of the titles featured below could genuinely be considered great, but they all have one thing in common: doing their source material justice.
Creative Assembly / 2014
Probably the most accurate, authentic recreation of a film seen in a videogame, despite featuring new locations, stories, and characters. Creative Assembly expertly channeled the look and feel of Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic to create the space station featured in its nerve-racking horror masterpiece, and it’s better than 90% of the films in the series as a result.
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
LucasArts / 1992
A rollicking adventure with a story that would have made for a great Indiana Jones film. This classic LucasArts point-and-click adventure sees our intrepid archaeologist searching for the lost city of Atlantis, the quest for which has him punching, whipping, and quipping his way around the world. Despite the limitations of the genre, it deftly captures the spirit of Indy.
Avalanche Studios / 2015
Released on the same day as Metal Gear Solid V, this underrated open world game didn’t get much love at the time. But it’s worth digging out, especially if you’re a fan of the film series. Drifting around its desolate, strangely beautiful wasteland, upgrading your car, scavenging for gas, and fighting crazed bandits really does make you feel like the mythical Road Warrior.
Westwood Studios / 1997
The story borrows a few too many beats from the film, but this spin-off adventure by Command & Conquer dev Westwood confidently replicates the melancholy ambience and dark, twisting storyline of Ridley Scott’s cyberpunk epic. Its cleverest trick is how, in each playthrough, different characters can be replicants—including main character McCoy.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
BioWare / 2003
This Star Wars history lesson takes you back to the days of the Old Republic and is one of BioWare’s finest RPGs. Memorable characters, vivid locations, and a great twist at the end make this one of the studio’s most beloved, memorable games. Proof that a Star Wars game doesn’t have to copy the films to be great. I’d force-choke a whole village of ewoks for a sequel.
Computer Artworks / 2002
This game is more fondly remembered than it probably deserves, but there’s no denying that it used its source material well. It sees you investigating the base that was destroyed in John Carpenter’s film, and features a unique system where allied soldiers can be infected by the titular ‘thing’, forcing you to expose them by administering a blood test.
The Chronicles of Riddick
Starbreeze Studios / 2004
Whether it’s Escape From Butcher Bay or sequel Assault on Dark Athena, these first-person stealth games boast richly atmospheric sci-fi environments, decent stories, and weighty melee combat. But it’s the former that’s perhaps the most memorable of the two thanks to its detailed maximum security prison setting and the freakish, tattooed inmates you share it with.
Enter the Matrix
Shiny Entertainment / 2003
The jury is out whether this is actually good—and I’d be amazed if anyone remembers—but the way its story slots into the Matrix movie trilogy is nicely done. It’s a rare example of a spin-off game complementing a film, rather than just existing as a half-baked playable analogue of it. Honestly, I’d forgotten this was even released on PC. Maybe a Reinstall is in order.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
Terminal Reality / 2009
As well as being a fun, well-designed action game, this unimaginatively titled spin-off reunites the original cast and features a script penned by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It really couldn’t be more authentic, and hearing those guys playing those characters again is a delight. But it’s also bittersweet knowing that it was Ramis’ last stint as Egon.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Monolith Productions / 2014
This casts Tolkien’s books aside and ramps up the action spectacle of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films to entertaining effect. Crunchy, brutal combat makes killing Sauron’s army endlessly entertaining. But it’s the neat nemesis system, which sees you forming bitter rivalries with enemies, that really stands out. You really grow to hate those orc bastards.