THE PCG Q&A
It's no secret The Witcher has done well on Netflix—not only have the reviews been mostly pretty good (and our own James says it kicks ass), it's drawn a record number of people into playing The Witcher 3.
While The Witcher show is based on The Witcher books, it's also obviously inspired by the games, too—just listen to Henry Cavill and you can tell he's doing his best Doug Cockle impression. The success of The Witcher show has us thinking about other games we'd like Netflix to turn into a TV series. No reason to let Geralt hog the small screen.
That's our question this week: What game or game series would make a kick-ass Netflix show? What do you love playing that you'd also love watching? Here are some of our answers, as well as a few submitted in our brand spankin' new PC Gamer Forums. Join up, or add your thoughts below in the comments!
The Banner Saga
Steven Messner, senior reporter: I'm convinced The Banner Saga would make an incredible Netflix animated series. If you haven't played it already (you absolutely should), The Banner Saga is a Norse-themed RPG about a caravan of villagers and warriors trying to outrun the end of the world. The whole thing is styled like '50s Disney animations like Sleeping Beauty, and is gorgeous to look at.
I think it'd make for a banging Netflix series, though, because The Banner Saga has all of the ingredients that make for good television drama. It's basically The Walking Dead except the zombies are a terrifying ancient race of monsters called The Dredge, there's a giant serpent that is slowly devouring the entire world, and the characters aren't wussy losers who spend all their time crying but instead are axe-wielding vikings. It takes a little bit of everything that's popular about modern TV but stirs it up into something that would feel brand new—especially if Netflix kept the same hand-drawn aesthetic, though I guess that might limit the appeal. Even if it was live action, The Banner Saga would make for an epic episodic adventure.
Tim Clark, brand director: Once again, I've planted a question purely so as to plead for something I want. In this case: a big budget Warhammer 40K TV show. I don't even really mind which part of Games Workshop's futuristic perma-war Netflix wants to focus on (so long as it isn't the Tau), but the obvious choice is probably the xenocidal adventures of a Space Marine chapter. Maybe their religious zealotry and problematic approach to making friends on new planets are too one-note to fill a full series—but as The Witcher proved, sometimes it pays to just give the fans what they actually want.
Evan Lahti has warned me—several times—that the Imperium is essentially unfilmable, given that to do it justice every other shot would need to be filled with flying cathedrals, scuttling Tyranids, huge stompy titan war machines, and nightmarish warp daemons in four different chaotic flavours. And yep, it's a lot. But the 40k fanbase has to be one of the biggest in the world that doesn't have a dedicated televisual tie-in of any sort. For a company that found $19 billion to spend on programming last year, surely Space Wolves: The Show is an instant Netflix green light. Skulls for the skull throne!
Stevie Ward, community manager: You need a good comedy vehicle in here! If you thought The Witcher adaptation had the right amount of tight leather, dark humour and witty one liners, imagine how great a follow up Monkey Island series would be! Insult Fencing, problem solving and thievery, but with good effects, amazing costumes and the same song writing team. Great through-line for Le Chuck, tons of old references, and you can cast a Netflix up-and-comer for Guybrush, or do what everyone would want and give it to Neil Patrick Harris. In fact, if you did that, you could re-contract the Netflix Lemony Snicket Team for easy production meetings.
Rachel Watts, staff writer: I would love to see what Netflix would do with a cyberpunk, psychological horror game like Bloober Team's Observer. I don't think it would be that difficult to adapt since Bloober likes to focus on storytelling and atmosphere over action.
In Observer you play as a neurological detective called Dan Lazarski who can hack into the fragmented minds of criminals and victims as he tries to solve a string of bloody murders. The mystery is great, but it's the world that Bloober has created that would make it a great show. Bloober has replaced shiny futuristic cities, flashy neon signs, and slick action with a dark, dirty and brooding world where a digital plague called the nanophage killed thousands, leaving people hopeless and fearful. It's set in an apartment complex in Poland and after a lockdown, you're locked in with the tenants of the building. It's a great mix of evil megacorporations, body augmentation, hologram addicts, with some surreal, mind-bending brain hacking sequences thrown in.
I'm also totally sold on Steven's animated Banner Saga.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Wes Fenlon, senior editor: I was really tempted to answer Earth Defense Force, just to pitch a six-hour alien invasion miniseries with the exact tone of Starship Troopers—but I couldn't imagine how it could actually be a better satire than Starship Troopers. So I'm playing it straight with Divinity: Original Sin 2, another sprawling fantasy epic that could work as a TV show if it focused in on strong characters. Think about it: the plot of Original Sin 2 is basically Game of Thrones, except whoever wins the throne becomes a god. I don't know if that plotline from the game would be the focus of a TV show, but there are so many deeply interesting characters in the game, from the demon-haunted Lohse to undead Fane to the lizard noble Red Prince, that there's tons to work with.
It would definitely be an ensemble show, and I can imagine small groups of these heroes (and anti-heroes) going on quests that eventually crisscross. I think that would sustain the show far longer than following a single party as the game does, and would let the deep history Larian has built for the world of Rivellon really shine. I just hope magically turning enemies into chickens during combat makes the cut.
Life is Strange
Jody Macgregor, weekend editor: Tough decision. Team Fortress 2 animated by the Tuca & Bertie team? Recycle all those Lost in Space props and costumes for a Mass Effect series? I think what I'd like most is an adaptation of the first Life is Strange, because then you could take all the good time-teen stuff from the middle episodes and give it a better ending. Yeah, give me Max and Chloe wrestling with the consequences of time travel while also trying to find a missing girl and not get picked on by the popular kids. Play up the Twin Peaks stuff, try not to make it two episodes longer than it needs to be like all the Marvel series were.
I would absolutely watch Tim's Warhammer 40,000 series though, and will watch Eisenhorn whenever that comes out.
James Davenport, staff writer: A new target every episode. Self-contained stories with the occasional detail that hints at a larger narrative. Slick action and slapstick humor. I'm imagining the energy of a heist movie except the goal is to kill some irredeemable asshole each week. Just do what the game does, except: Television.
Andy Chalk, news writer: In a world twisted and riven by demonic corruption, Lo Wang, a stylish, slightly dim-witted man with a stunning capacity for violence, and his wisecracking spirit partner Hoji navigate a host of human and demonic friends, foes, and conspiracies as they pursue the Nobitsura Kage, an ancient sword of unimaginable power. Rapid patter, slapstick, and copious graphic violence will feature prominently, but the real hook will be the story, which people will realize around the mid-season point is more layered and engaging than anyone could have reasonably expected. The tragic concluding episode will enrage audiences, but years from now retrospectives will pay tribute to the bold creative vision that gave life to this pathos-laden tale of love, loss, and family.
But honestly, I think James has the best idea here. A wacky weekly hit with no required commitment to overarching narrative? That's my kind of teevee.
Phil Savage, editor-in-chief: A lot of people will tell you that Destiny has a bad story, and they're not exactly wrong. What it has instead, though, is many, many fascinating sci-fi concepts that live in collectible lore books hidden throughout the game. I'd love to see a bunch of these books brought to life as part of an animated anthology series, each episode focusing on a different concept. The hive episode based on the Book of Sorrows, which tells the eons-long tale of three siblings who make a terrible choice; the Truth to Power episode that features a nested series of unreliable narrators leading an exploration of the power and malleability of storytelling itself; the Thorn/Last Word episode that follows the battles of this fiction's most infamous gunslingers.
You might correctly worry that such a series would have no real cohesion or thematic connection, rendering the whole thing unsatisfying to a general audience. But I'd enjoy it, and that's the main thing.
James, forum moderator: X-Com would honestly make a pretty competent series. It has a clear progression of story beats from "are there aliens attacking us?" to "We're in a secret war with the aliens" to "This country has surrendered to the aliens and is now our enemy" to "We're going to mars blow up those gawd dang aliens." The mystery and horror of the new alien types appearing every few episodes, learning new ways to combat them and turn their weapons against them, etc. It'd be a lot like the Stargate TV series.
Yourfacedotcom: I think XCOM and Deus Ex are both excellent choices. We have a severe lack of Cyberpunk and Alien genres of shows.
DelirusRex: Something like Saints Row, probably specifically Saints Row 1 or 2, before things kinda fell apart into the absurd. If I remember correctly, both games have a "default character" that they have in the loading screen for all the climactic scenes in the game... which there's a lot of. A Netflix series about a gang war that also includes a gang defending themselves from a corporation just feels like something that would take ground now. And the Allstate guy could play Julius.
Macleod: Mass Effect or Dead Space but I'd prefer to see a Mass Effect series. That game is just begging to be made into a movie or TV series.
PioneerRaptor: I'm a bit biased because I've been playing it religiously this past week, but I believe Dragon Age. First, fantasy seems to be a very popular genre right now thanks to Game of Thrones and now The Witcher. Furthermore, Dragon Age has such a huge amount of lore and story to pull from and it has everything people loved about Game of Thrones with the political game, dragons, and plenty of space for great heroes and amazing villains!
Johnny: A few of the top of my head. Rust: You might think it's shallow at first, but there's a lot of mystery and lore around if you pay attention. Shadowfrax on YouTube has some great videos and theories on the lore of Rust. Final Fantasy: A great and diverse world and there are so many entries to choose from. Personally, I like the aesthetic of FF IX and I think they nailed the little bit of romance there is, but if it needs a specific plot, I think FF X's plot would be a hit. Fun and interesting world? Check. Romance? Check. Time travel shenanigans? Check. Life is Strange: This game was lovely, but much to my dismay, the choices aspect wasn't as impactful as I would have liked. I think it'd kill it as a Netflix series. Frostpunk: This one's pretty generic, but I really enjoyed the setting of this game along with the moral choices you have to make. Some great stories could come out of this setting.
I Will Haunt You: For some reason I've always thought the traditional point n' click adventures would translate well to TV shows. The ones I'd most want to see would be Gabriel Knight: A good addition to the supernatural offerings already out there. Gray Matter: A bit of an under appreciated adventure from the Gabriel Knight creator but a unique enough premise to drive a series. The Longest Journey: One of the greatest adventure games ever made with a blend of fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, and leading ladies in their undies. Syberia: Its light fantasy and alternate history make a good combo. Tex Murphy: C'mon. We really, really need a futuristic comedy detective series.