It's no secret that video game adaptations in other mediums don't have the best track record. Even with successful Hollywood stars like Duncan Jones or Michael Fassbender attached, video game movies like Warcraft and Assassin's Creed still can't seem to please the critics. Although it's nearly impossible to find a video game movie that is easy to recommend, the adaptation problem isn't nearly as bad in the world of comics and graphic novels.
There are still plenty of video game inspired comic books that should be avoided, but this guide should help both gaming and comic fans find the best collected volumes worth picking up...
The Valve anthology collection is full of stories inspired by all of the developer's most iconic franchises from Left 4 Dead to Portal. Because the book is an anthology it has a range of creators, but the biggest name is probably Michael Avon Oeming (co-creator of Powers). Some of the stories are a little short, but they all do a fantastic job of capturing the unique feel of the different Valve universes and manage to add new layers of depth to each character that PC players have come to know and love over the years.
Valve Presents: The Sacrifice and other Steam Powered Stories by Dark Horse Comics $20.76.
The Mass Effect comics may not have a superstar writer/artist team collaborating, but the ongoing series has been fantastic in each of its installments. The best place to start is the Redemption storyline, which jumps in after the events of the first Mass Effect game and uses Dr. Liara T'Soni as the main protagonist. Liara's secret mission leads into the events of Mass Effect 2 and the book does a great job of fleshing out one of the series' most interesting companion characters. Readers who enjoy Redemption have plenty of other Mass Effect comics to dig into, so BioWare fans should have no shortage of reading material to keep them busy until Andromeda releases.
Mass Effect: Redemption by Dark Horse Comics $10.89.
With a story as strong as The Last of Us, any franchise adaptations have a lot to live up to. The jury is still out on the inevitable movie, but the comic manages to deliver. Luckily, Naughty Dog loaned writer Neil Druckman to Dark Horse Comics to help bring a new chapter into The Last of Us universe. The video game writer teamed up with comics superstar Faith Erin Hicks to script the original story and Hicks handled the art, as well. The comic is a prequel that focuses on Ellie's early days, before meeting up with Joel. The book follows Ellie and her friend Riley as they handle day-to-day life inside the quarantine zone.
The Last of Us: American Dreams by Dark Horse Comics $16.08.
Marvel has done a fantastic job with the Halo comics from the get go. Each new installment in the series explores the giant sci-fi world and either adds new bits and pieces to Chief's backstory or explores side characters that never get a chance to shine in the games. The Halo series has an incredible stable of creators including Brian Michael Bendis (Jessica Jones, Civil War 2, Daredevil), Peter David (The Incredible Hulk), Alex Maleev (Daredevil), and many more of Marvel's most talented writers and artists. The Oversized Collection contains over 400 pages of Halo adventures and is a fantastic companion piece the game series.
Halo: Oversized Collection by Marvel $31.24.
Objection! No list of great video game comic books would be complete without mentioning Capcom's Phoenix Wright series. Although Capcom doesn't have the best track record with comic book adaptations, this manga stays true to the source material and brings the game's humor and ridiculousness to the page in a series of new adventures featuring Nick and his assistant Maya. The weird sense of humor in these comics isn't for everyone, but fans of the game should definitely connect with the courtroom antics.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 1 by Capcom $9.34.
The comic series inspired by The Witcher leans hard into the horror genre and embraces the dark side of the monster hunting franchise. If the cover gives readers a Hellboy vibe, that's because it is done by legendary Hellboy creator Mike Mignolia. The comic itself is written by Paul Tobin (Bandette) and drawn by Joe Querio. Much like the games, the comic is dark and mature and very serious. The series is a great read and House of Glass is the obvious jumping on point.
The Witcher Volume 1: House of Glass by Dark Horse Comics $14.35.