Video games are such a massive medium today that their reach spans far beyond the confines of your games console. More and more movies based on games are getting made – and books and novels based on video games are now more popular than ever.
This top 10 details my personal favourite video game novels. Although a Top 10 list is usually ordered from worst to best as the list goes on, the vastness of genres and styles these novels covers means that its ordering is entirely subjective based on my personal preferences. So it would be wiser to make an exception for this list, and not view it as a “Top 10” list of video game novels, but view it as “10 Video Game Novels”, just ordered/rated by my personal tastes.
I’ve included many different kinds of stories here, that span across more than one major game franchise, so everyone should find something they enjoy here.
Ico: Castle In The Mist
Ico: Castle in the Mist is a very atmospheric book that covers the events of Ico with a lot more of the context surrounding it. Whilst it might be a tad slow-paced for some, and having to translate a light-puzzle platformer into novel form might seem like a strange task to accomplish, the book did a great job. For those wanting a fantasy adventure story that takes its time to build atmosphere and fleshes out texture, this is one for you.
Halo: Contact Harvest
Telling the story from both the perspective of the covenant and of Sgt. Johnson, Contact Harvest is the story of humanity’s first encounter/contact with the alien covenant forces. This sets up the whole foundation for the war between the two forces, and paves the way for what will become the Halo universe.
Halo: The Fall of Reach
Much like how Contact Harvest provides some much needed early context for the universe, The Fall of Reach looks at John 117’s origins, and tells a bit about him and his team and the challenges they faced together. Some involvement with Dr. Catherine Halsey, and a few chapters later, we then set the stage for what becomes the beginning of the first Halo game on the original Xbox.
This is best read before playing Halo: Reach so you can appreciate the events that took place in the book, down on the ground as Noble team. What makes this novel even more amazing is the fact it was written in less than two months.
Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth
Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth captures the essence of Nathan’s adventures, but has the luxury of concentrating more on dialogue and character interaction. This shows in the more mysterious parts of the story involving a murder, and as such the story takes a slower pace, but without losing the things that make Uncharted what it is.
A surprisingly good read, considering how action-orientated the game franchise is.
Lord of Souls (An Elder Scrolls Novel)
Whilst the first book titled The Infernal City is a good choice in itself, it’s the follow up where the story really begins to kick off. Lord of Souls tells the story of a mysterious floating city that threatens Tamriel in a more immediate fashion.
One might consider the first book required reading, but the second book is where you want to get to as quickly as possible.
Mass Effect: Revelation
The less said about Mass Effect: Revelation, the better; this is a story that should be discovered by yourself.
Revelation has a mysterious tone to it, with suspense and an investigation of an attacked space station leaving the reader always wanting to turn to the next page to find out what happens. If you like the Mass Effect universe, this is a good place to start for furthering your experience with it.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
I always thought the story of the Assassin’s Creed II was the best. Ezio is the most likeable character of any of the assassins in my eyes, and Brotherhood manages to capture the character incredibly well, and document the game in a different style that emulates the game’s success effectively.
Yet another novel that builds context and foundation, Bioshock: Rapture sets the stage for the first Bioshock game, and gives you a deep insight into what actually happened in Rapture. This shows you how it all came to be, and what went wrong.
Knee-Deep in the Dead (Doom)
I bought Knee Deep in the Dead as a teenager because the cover looked amazing. When I realised it was going to try and tell a story about Doom however, I contemplated the arcade, twitch shooter FPS with explosions and demons and thought “How on earth could you write about this?”.
Turns out there’s a very interesting direction you can take a pure shooter experience like Doom, and this novel is a great read for anyone who wants balls out action, accompanied with writing that has as much attitude as the game. Definitely one for the younger readers among you, who want a bit of teenage kicks from the action and tempo of this great novel.
City of the Dead (Resident Evil)
City of the Dead is based on the events of Resident Evil 2, which I see as being the most apt place for storytelling within the Resident Evil universe. There’s something raw and interesting about re-visiting the undead taking over Raccoon City, and seeing it from different perspectives. Resident Evil 2 and 3 proved this, and even later games such as Operation: Raccoon City still showed us that there’s a lot of material left unexplored.
City of the Dead doesn’t waste this potential, and uses what devices it can to tell an interesting story that will leave both fans and non-fans of the series wanting to dive deeper into the universe and its other book entries.