Little-known fact: Some of the best stories being told today are in the form of video games. Video games feature everything from sweeping sci-fi epics, dreadful existential nightmares, glimpses of fantastic worlds and engaging post-apocalyptic social commentary to romantic romps, history-filled empire building and immense simulated landscapes where players can tell their own stories with other players. It’s no shock that when the credits roll, players often look for more about their favorite digital worlds. Some may be sated by the slew of fandom websites scattered across the internet, but even those will point to an often overlooked form of fiction: Books based on video games.
Some video game-based fiction retells the stories found behind the controller in greater detail, cutting out the gameplay in favor of telling the story directly. Others expand the mythos and legends, adding everything from new histories, new locations—even new heroes that sometimes make the jump from page to screen!
Dive into your favorite digital world with these video game-based books on the Libby app.
One of the greatest and most storied examples of a successful jump from screen to page (and back again!) is the Halo series. The exploits of the Master Chief, also known as John-117, are chronicled in the Halo video games by Bungie (and later by 343 Industries, as Bungie broke away from Microsoft to develop their Destiny franchise), but the universe is expanded by its dragon’s hoard of comics, books, movies and animated features. While not every story centers around the Master Chief, Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund does by not only revealing his heartbreaking origins and the rigorous, treacherous training he underwent to be humanity’s greatest soldier, but also detailing the events that lead directly into the opening sequence of the first Halo game. If you’re a fan of the series looking to learn more about its history, Halo: The Fall of Reach or its comic adaptation Halo: Fall of Reach are a great place to start.
Cyberpunk 2077: No Coincidence by Rafel Kosik
Stepping forward through time, Cyberpunk 2077 is a relatively recent game release that depicts a near-future dystopia where corporations run the world and players seek out a living as mercenaries on the rough and neon-washed streets of Night City. Originally based on a tabletop roleplaying game of the same name, Cyberpunk 2077: No Coincidence tells the story of a ragtag group of mercs pulling off a big heist against one of the world’s largest corps while dealing with their own secrets and traumas that threaten to bring the group down around them. Fair warning: This title expects you to know at least a little about the Cyberpunk 2077 world before you dive in, so look to spend some time in-game or watching the Cyberpunk: Edgerunners anime beforehand to get full enjoyment.
Horus Rising: The Horus Heresy, Book 1 by Dan Abnett
While Horus Heresy may not be based on a game per se, I’d be remiss to not mention it as one of the reigning monarchs of the Nerdiverse. Spanning hundreds of books, Horus Rising is as good a place to start as it’s the starting point of the Warhammer 40,000 franchise’s most dramatic and important moment: The rebellion against and the death of the God-Emperor of Mankind. That’s not a spoiler, by the way—the book’s second line is, “I was there, the day Horus slew the Emperor.” Does it happen in this book? Absolutely not—that happens many, many books later (in the Horus Heresy: Siege of Terra series, which is currently wrapping up its three-volume finale, The End and the Death). But Horus Rising introduces readers to many of the main players, the main antagonists and the main plots that kick off the greatest civil war the Imperium of Man has ever seen, threatening to tear humanity to pieces.
(n.b. for the WH40k faithful amongst our readers: Yes, the battle in the beginning of Horus Rising isn’t really Terra, and it isn’t the real Emperor, but the similarities to the Battle of Sixty-Three Nineteen and the Siege of Terra are obvious enough to draw the comparison and imply Loken’s opening of the book as prophecy.)
Minecraft: The Island by Max Brooks, read by Jack Black
Let’s move away from the grimdark future where there’s only war to something a little lighter. Minecraft has been around for a long while now, capturing the creativity and imagination of young and old. While it doesn’t have a proper storyline (at least not a linear one like most other games), that doesn’t mean there are no stories to tell. The Island is one of these stories, kicking off a series of early YA-oriented Minecraft novels that focus on overcoming obstacles in the face of adversity set in the familiar blocky landscape. With the audiobook version, you get a little extra bonus as the novel is narrated by cool person and consummate goofball Jack Black, who brings his passionately manic energy to an already stellar production filled with sound effects and music.
Arthas: Rise of the Lich King by Christie Golden
Even if you don’t play games, World of Warcraft is one of those that’s been so popular and been around for so long that you can’t help but know what it is. One of the many reasons this storied franchise is still going strong is because of its story— a deep, twisting narrative that began with the original Warcraft real-time strategy games before making the leap into the massive multiplayer behemoth we know today. One of its most stellar stories is that of Arthas Menethil, erstwhile prince of Lordaeron who, despite the best of intentions, becomes one of the series’ most nefarious and sinister villains. This story is chronicled in Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, a detailed account of his training and high expectations as heir to the throne and his ultimate fall from grace during the Culling of Stratholme and his ascension to the Frozen Throne as the Lich King. Even if you’re not into the games, Arthas’ story is excellent and highly recommended reading for anyone who enjoys high fantasy.
Scott Cawthon’s highly successful Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise has taken the world by storm with its stable of mainline games, spinoff games, books, comics and now a full-length feature film from the horror masters at Blumhouse. On the novels and graphic novels front, Cawthon has worked closely with both new and established authors and artists (including popular fan-artists whose work appear in the games!) to expand the FNaF universe. While these titles are definitely horror, they, like the games, keep well within the bounds of YA (though they don’t shy away from the general creepiness!).
If you love any of these video game worlds, dive even deeper with books based on or inspired by the games on Libby.