In the past, video games based on movies have generally been bad. Superman 64 and Aliens: Colonial Marines are two prime examples, but there are countless others. Thankfully, developers have taken a different direction in recent years. Rather than simply releasing a game as a marketing tactic for an upcoming movie, developers are creating separate experiences set in the world of a film but with a unique story to tell. In this guide, we’ve rounded up the best video games based on movies.
Alien: Isolation is a bona fide survival horror game. Instead of throwing you into an arena with some guns and a whole lot of Xenomorphs, Isolation focuses on, well, isolation. You play as Ripley’s daughter 15 years after the events of the first Alien film. After discovering that a flight recorder documenting Ripley’s fate is hidden on a Seegson Corporation ship, you’re sent to find it.
Just like Alien, your goal isn’t to go in guns blazing. Encounters with a Xenomorph will be brief and filled with anxiety, as you attempt to outrun the beast. Most of the game is focused on sneaking around tight corridors and using various tools to deter the creature, not defeat it, perfectly capturing the spirit of the source material.
Read our Alien: Isolation review
Although Marvel’s Avengers is very loudly not based on Marvel’s multi-billion-dollar film franchise, it certainly borrows a lot. Plus Kamala Khan, you have access to the same roster of Avengers: Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Captain America. Although Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics got a lot of flak for the games-as-a-service elements, Marvel’s Avengers remains a thoroughly enjoyable action game with a firecracker single-player campaign.
The “live” part of the game isn’t bad, either. Like Destiny 2 and similar titles, Avengers is repetitive. After the 15 to 20 hours of the campaign, you’ll be spending your time assembling your own version of the Avengers, taking on baddies in a range of familiar locations. Piloting the heroes feels good, so Avengers keeps things interesting from moment to moment. However, its staying power comes from the leveling system. Each hero has their own tree of skills and unlocking all of them will keep you hooked for dozens of hours after the campaign.
Read our Marvel’s Avengers review
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
There are a handful of good Star Wars games, but a lot more bad ones. Thankfully, Fallen Order fits in the former category. The game takes place between Episode III and Episode IV, or more accurately, between Episode III and the events of Star Wars Rebels. You play as Cal Kestis, a Jedi Padawan under the oppressive threat of the Great Jedi Purge.
In a shift from most other Star Wars games, Fallen Order puts you in the shoes of an actual Jedi, fit with a customizable lightsaber and force powers. Throughout your adventure, you’ll travel to multiple planets, each fit with secrets, alternative paths, and optional boss battles.
Read our Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order review
Jurassic World Evolution
Jurassic World Evolution is about the furthest thing you’d expect out of a Jurassic Park-inspired game. It’s a simulation game created by Frontier Developments, the same studio behind Planet Coaster and the recently released Planet Zoo. In the game, you run a dinosaur park spread across five islands.
Thankfully, it’s not just a reskin of Planet Coaster. Evolution features voice acting from Jeff Goldblum, Bryce Dallas Howard, and B. D. Wong, and also focuses on three distinct skill trees: Science, Entertainment, and Security. Although dinosaur theme park simulation is an unlikely genre, it works well for Evolution due to the fact that the game was developed by a master of the simulation genre.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Like Star Wars, there are a lot of Lord of the Rings games, most of which aren’t very good. The two Middle-earth games, Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War, don’t fit into that category, though. In both games, you play as Talion, a ranger whose spirit is infused with the elf lord Celebrimbor. Unsurprisingly, your goal is simply to stop Sauron.
Shadow of War is a prequel to the movies, and although the lore is interesting for LOTR fans, we’re including Shadow of War based on its mechanics. In the game, you’ll need to confront Sauron’s orc army. As you take out ranking members, others will step in to take their place, becoming more powerful in the process. No two playthroughs are exactly the same, as the enemies you make throughout your playthrough will be determined by who’s highest on your hit list.
Read our Middle-earth: Shadow of War review
GoldenEye 007 is the one exception to the “no movie tie-in” rule. Released in 1997 for the Nintendo 64, GoldenEye set in motion an era of split-screen shooting, as players bounced bullets off each other in a deathmatch arena. Nowadays, GoldenEye doesn’t feel quite as good as it did back in 1997. Still, its impact on gaming is undeniable.
That doesn’t mean you should boot it back up, though. The Nintendo 64 isn’t the best platform for shooters, with its limited graphical fidelity and asinine controller design. Thankfully, a redesign of the game built on the Source engine is available to download on PC for free.
John Wick Hex
John Wick Hex is a much more methodical experience than its source material. It’s a timeline strategy game where time stops so you can plan your next action. You’ll choose where you want to move and what actions you want to take, and once you do, time will resume. It turns out that you can’t be as badass as John Wick in real time, even in a video game.
That aside, Hex still makes you feel like the Baba Yaga, with expertly crafted animations and neon-plastered scenery. Although a AAA studio could likely make a more visceral John Wick experience, Hex is still a solid, smaller title that offers a unique take on the six-year-old franchise. It’s available now on PC and PS4, but it’s coming to Switch and Xbox One later this year, too.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
At the time, pairing a multi-billion-dollar franchise like Star Wars with the developer of Neverwinter Nights and the Baldur’s Gate games seemed like it wouldn’t work. BioWare quickly proved that wasn’t the case, though. Knight of the Old Republic almost single-handedly proved that video games based on movies could offer depth and complexity.
Knights of the Old Republic takes place in, well, the Old Republic, 4,000 years before the Galactic Empire rose to power. You play as a Jedi on a multi-planet quest to overthrow Darth Malak. Like the BioWare titles that came before Knights of the Old Republic, combat takes place over a series of rounds, with combat actions using the d20 system to determine if the action was successful or not.
Mad Max isn’t based on any particular film from the series, though it released shortly after Fury Road hit theaters. It’s an open world action-adventure game in the vein of Assassin’s Creed and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You play as Max Rockatansky, a former highway patrol officer in search of fuel for his Interceptor.
Although Mad Max isn’t on the level as Arkham Asylum and the better Assassin’s Creed games, it’s still a decent experience. A core focus of the title is vehicular combat. As you make your way around the wasteland, you can find new items to outfit your vehicle, making it stronger, faster, and more deadly.
Friday the 13th: The Game
Friday the 13th: The Game is an asymmetrical multiplayer title with similar gameplay to Dead by Daylight. The eight-player online matches feature seven Camp Crystal Lake Counselors facing off against a menacing Jason Voorhees. Counselors win if they escape the map alive or survive until time runs out. Of course, the goal of the Jason player is to kill as many counselors as possible.
It’s a simple premise, one that could quickly become stale. Thankfully, the Camp Crystal Lake map is large and open, with multiple side quests for counselors to complete. Completing these quests will give the counselors a better chance of survival, either by aiding in an escape route or helping slow down Jason.
Blair Witch came out of nowhere, announced and released in 2019 on its own merit. You play as Ellis Lynch, a former police officer and veteran who joined up with a search party looking for a missing child deep in the Black Hills Forest of Burkittsville, Maryland. Along for the journey is your dog Bullet, which is critical in determining the end of the game.
For the most part, Blair Witch is a game about exploration, searching through the woods and solving puzzles along the way. Bullet is the most interesting aspect of the game, however. In addition to finding items and tracking scents, Bullet also determines your physiological state. You’ll need to keep Bullet close during your search or otherwise suffer from the horror around you.