The best films and series that have been made as video game adaptations

Although games-based movies have only become popular in recent years, we could have heard about this type of production much earlier. Unfortunately, not all adaptations have been successful, and game fans have been disgusted by most of them. They were low-budget productions, poorly made and often lacked an understanding of the source material.

Fortunately, this has started to change over time and we have gotten such great series as Arcane, inspired by League of Legends, or Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, set in the world of Cyberpunk 2077. And let’s not forget the very well received The Last of Us.

What are the best films and series that have been made into video games? We pick the ones you should know about!

The Last of Us (2023)

A hit of the past few months that you have probably heard about more than once is, of course, The Last of Us. The series is based on the classic survival horror game. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, where a fungal epidemic has turned mankind into zombies. The high-budget HBO production was developed under the watchful eye of showrunners Craig Mazin (creator of Chernobyl) and Neil Druckmann, co-president of studio Naughty Dog.

Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), the game’s protagonists, battle to survive in a dangerous world in this television series.

The series, like the game, has captivated the hearts of viewers all around the world thanks to the faithfulness of the adaptation to the source material, especially in terms of the compelling tale.

The Last of Us delivers an in-depth look into the lives of the characters, eye-catching game-inspired visuals and audio, and strong performances. The Last of Us may rank among the best video game adaptations ever created thanks to its post-apocalyptic setting and excellent production qualities.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners (2022)

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a series produced by CD Projekt RED in collaboration with Trigger Studio and distributed by Netflix. The story focuses on the fate of David Martinez, who accidentally becomes an Edgerunner – a mercenary who performs tasks for mysterious fixers in Night City. During his adventures, David joins a group of other edgerunners, and the series’ storyline focuses on various themes related to cyberpsychosis.

The atmosphere of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is reminiscent of the popular game Cyberpunk 2077, introducing viewers to an environment that will be familiar to fans of that production. Without going into the details of each episode, the series is full of familiar themes that will make game enthusiasts feel right at home.

Arcane (2021)

Arcane is a unique series adaptation based on the popular video game League of Legends, which has set a new benchmark for game-based productions. Working with Netflix, the creators have gained recognition from both gamers and new audiences and have received great reviews.

League of Legends is a fantastic team-based strategy game in which two teams of five powerful heroes battle to destroy their opponent’s base. The Arcane series is set in the sister cities of Piltover and Zaun, against the backdrop of the world of Runeterra, part of the vast esports universe of League of Legends. The production focuses on a complex storyline that touches on class divisions, which has attracted both fans of the game and those unfamiliar with it.

The creators have used an innovative mix of computer animation and illustrated backgrounds to make the series visually stunning, with high production values and an excellent soundtrack. Arcane has won four Emmy Awards and nine Annie Awards.

Resident Evil (2002-2016)

The Resident Evil film series are horror science fiction films inspired by the iconic video games of the same name. The live-action series by creators of films such as Mortal Kombat and Monster Hunter was released between 2002 and 2016.

The story revolves around the exploits of Milla Jovovich’s character Alice as she faces off against the Umbrella Corporation and its army of zombies and other bio-engineered monsters. The first Resident Evil movie, released in 2002, was met with mixed reviews from critics who applauded the action scenes and Milla Jovovich’s acting but faulted it for not being faithful to the original. Despite this, the film was a commercial success and became iconic among gaming fans, launching a series that audiences still remember fondly.

If you are a fan of Resident Evil, you have probably heard of the other films, such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: The Last Chapter. Although occasionally criticized for having a less developed plot than the games, these movies were praised for their exciting action sequences.

After the end of the series starring Milla Jovovich, further adaptations based on the games’ universe were made, such as Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021) and animated films.

Uncharted (2022)

Uncharted is a film adaptation of the popular series of action games, where we follow the story of the main character – an adventurer named Nathan Drake.

Starring Tom Holland as Nathan, Mark Wahlberg and Antonio Banderas, the film tells the exciting story of the search for the treasure lost by Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago. Uncharted is packed with action scenes, twists, comedy and advanced special effects.

Pokémon (1997, 2019)

This is the one of the most popular video game adaptations. Pokémon, really adorable creatures have become a pop culture phenomenon and an integral part of many generations’ childhoods. The anime based on the Nintendo games certainly played a part in this!

During over 1000 episodes we follow the story of a young trainer, Ash Ketchum, who travels the world with his friends looking for rare Pokémon. Ash’s goal is to train his creatures and compete in battles to win the title of Pokémon Master.

The anime debuted in Japan in 1997, just a year after the release of the first games. It quickly gained popularity worldwide. The series has appealed to children and adults alike, thanks to its vibrant and creative animation and intriguing storyline that expands on the legend of the Pokémon world and memorable characters.

Pokémon is unlikely to stop attracting audiences, as evidenced by subsequent animated films and the live-action Pokémon Detective Pikachu, directed by Rob Letterman and starring Ryan Reynolds as the voice of the series’ titular mascot. This film was a huge success.

Mortal Kombat (1995-2001, 2021)

Known for its advanced fighting mechanics, characters and brutality, the popular Mortal Kombat series has seen several adaptations. The games in the series remain popular with older and younger gamers alike. In 1995, the first film was made, which became a classic and defined the action of the 1990s. It told the story of martial arts masters summoned to a mysterious island to compete in the Mortal Kombat tournament and fight for the fate of the Earth.

In 2021, almost 30 years after it revolutionised the fighting genre, a new adaptation of the game was released, directed by Simon McQuoid. The film strikes a balance between fighting scenes and story development, while retaining a key element of the series – brutal combat. The new version of Mortal Kombat pays homage to the classic by taking the bloody fight sequences to a new level.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is an adventure film directed by Simon West and starring Angelina Jolie. The movie, which is based on the well-known Tomb Raider video game series, follows Lara Croft’s explorations as she looks for a potent ancient artifact.

As the movie received positive reviews, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, a sequel, was released in 2003. Lara Croft made a comeback to the big screen in 2018 in a new Tomb Raider instalment starring Alicia Vikander.

Halo (2022)

Halo, the first-person shooter universe created by Xbox Game Studios, has become an iconic part of the Xbox brand since 2001.

The Halo series is not a literal adaptation of the game but tells a standalone story inspired by the series. However, while respecting the canon and framework of the franchise, the creators made changes that were controversial for game fans, such as expanding the emotional layers of the characters, including Master Chief. By showing the man behind the metal armour, the series attempts to balance fan expectations with a fresh perspective.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

This title is an action-adventure film based on the video game series of the same name and stars big movie celebrities, such as Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan and Gemma Arterton as Princess Tamina. After being framed for his father’s murder, Dastan escapes with the shy princess and a dagger that can turn back time. However, the dagger is being hunted by several villains….

The film’s narrative draws on visual elements from the game but expands the story. Prince of Persia is two hours of adventure and fun with a well-made film – fans of the original story should not be disappointed.