On the single shelf in my closet that houses all the novels, games, and movies that aren’t currently tucked away in storage boxes is a particularly thick, purple book. It’s H.G. Wells: Seven Novels, one of those big, colorful classics released by Barnes and Nobel a few years back that look good sitting sit a bookcase. I bought it during a period where I sorta fell out of love with games and wanted to get big back into reading. Looking at the company’s website as I write this I see about 10 more of these hued hardbacks I want to add to my collection.
I’d never read H.G. Wells before buying that book but I was familiar with his work. I’d seen Guy Pierce’s The Time Machine, single-handedly the worst film I’ve ever had the displeasure of viewing. I’d seen Marlon Brando mumble his way through The Island of Dr. Moreau. During a period where I binged classic films, I watched the still enjoyable The Invisible Man. And, like I’m sure most of you have, I sat through Tom Cruise running and Dakota Fanning screaming for two hours of The War of the Worlds. That’s not a bad movie, but after reading the Wells original, it’s also not a very good adaptation.
My main point of contention is the modern setting. Our current society has so many weapons available at our disposal that an alien invasion never seems as terrifying as it could be. They have lasers, we have nukes. They have a force field, we have Randy Quaid. But in 1899, when the original story is set, an alien invasion that pitted their heat-rays against our Maxim guns really could have meant the end of society. H.G. Wells’ original vision for extra-terrestrials invading our world is far more terrifying than any adaptation of his work so far, and it’s the perfect source material for an action-packed survival horror video game.
You play as the Narrator, who after a quick trip to the Ottershaw observatory, must run and hide to survive the Martian tripods, heat-rays, and black smoke as he travels across England searching for his wife. I’m imagining something along the lines of The Last Of Us without the gunfights and conveniently placed, waist-high crates to hide behind. Of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories but without the pre-scripted chase sequences. This shouldn’t be a game about fighting the aliens as developers have done with the source material in the past but about surviving their initial attack and their ultimate dominance over the human race long enough for the common cold to wipe them all out.
Gaming has a brief but excellent track record of turning great books into great games. The Witcher is one of the biggest gaming properties on the planet and I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream is an all-time classic. But The World of the Worlds has yet to see a faithful adaptation and there is no reason, with our modern technology, we can’t get one. That’s the book I’d most like to see on console or PC, but something tells me the Destructoid editors have their own stories in mind that are ripe for a video game.