Video game fans rejoice! The first full trailer of The Last of Us, HBO’s adaptation of the award-winning video game series, just dropped. It’s looking dark, gritty, and intense, much like its source material. The best part? It looks like it’s going to be one of the best TV shows adapted from video games we’ve seen in a long time.
Fans may have been doubtful of the casting at first, as Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay do not resemble Joel and Ellie much, but the trailer proves all the criticism is ridiculous. It seems they have a good grasp of our hardened survivors and are going to kill in their roles. I have high hopes that the TV show adaptation of the beloved video game will only strengthen the powerful storytelling of The Last of Us.
The trailer showed several familiar cinematic scenes from the first video game — from the tragic day of the outbreak leading to the death of Sarah, Joel’s daughter, Ellie and Riley in an abandoned mall in Left Behind, the game’s DLC.
It also gave us a glimpse of Nick Offerman standing over a hole with a shotgun. He was cast to play Bill, a fine choice for the extremely paranoid (for good reason) scavenger in the post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us. And finally, a hair-raising scene featuring a Clicker made it to the trailer’s cut. The incredible detail of the infected creature makes it even more terrifying up close.
However, there are some mysteries we can’t uncover until the show’s release. Specifically, Melanie Lynskey’s role in the TV adaptation of the video game. As far as we know, the only key adult female characters in the first installment are: Tess, Joel’s partner; the Fireflies’ leader Marlene; and Maria, Joel’s sister-in-law. Melanie Lynskey, who recently starred in the survival drama Yellowjackets, doesn’t really fit any of those roles.
It was only recently revealed that the actress is slated to play Kathleen, a character created for the TV adaptation of The Last of Us. It’s been speculated that Kathleen is the leader of the Hunters, a brutal group of survivors that Joel and Ellie try to evade (or counterattack) for much of the game, while also battling it out with infected creatures.
The TV adaptation of The Last of Us is looking more and more impressive with each teaser, but it’s not going to come to our screens until next year. Exactly when, we can only echo what other gamers and TV show fans know and say, “Sometime in 2023.”
That leaves us a lot of waiting time to replay the games or watch a few video games masterfully adapted for the small screen.
The Best TV Shows Adapted from Video Games You Can Watch Right Now
4. The Witcher
Regardless of the mixed reviews from critics, The Witcher remains one of Netflix’s most successful TV show releases of all time. Season 1 reportedly gained 49.18 million hours of screen time in its debut week, while Season 2 recorded 142.43 million hours of viewing from audiences when it was released.
Still reeling from the disappointing ending of Game of Thrones, fans flocked to this medieval fantasy drama as a replacement. However, much of The Witcher’s success is owed to the video game franchise of the same name. The action role-playing game already had a considerable following, which Netflix was able to tap into successfully.
Unlike the award-winning video game though, the TV adaptation is told in several timelines. This could be confusing for fans who are already familiar with the lore, especially as we’re following characters that weren’t explored fully in the original game. But the beauty of the show is how it’s able to weave the three complex narratives of its main characters — Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer of Vengerberg, and Princess Ciri of Cintra — into one cohesive storyline.
Whether you’re a fan of the video games, fantasy tales, immersive dramas, or Henry Cavill, The Witcher doesn’t disappoint. You don’t need prior knowledge of the games or the book series they’re based on to dig into the series — although, you do need to pay attention to its intricate storytelling.
Here’s something for nostalgic video game fans. Netflix’s animated adaptation of Castlevania is a must-see. The show is based on the premise of the popular game series created for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Monster hunter Trevor Belmont invades Dracula’s castle to drive a stake through his chest. Or, if we’re basing it off the video game, wield the whip conveniently called the Vampire Killer at the fearsome creature.
The animation is, of course, well above the 8bit graphics of the show’s source material. The narrative works to complement the graphics, as both are layered, violent, and, at times, comedic. Overall, it’s a wildly entertaining watch that retells the well-established mythology of vampires and their killers.
Unlike The Witcher, the animated series is already concluded at four seasons and is perfect for binge-watching on a weekend. Fortunately for those who haven’t satisfied their bloodlust, Netflix recently announced Castlevania: Nocturne, a spin-off following the life of vampire hunter Richter Belmont.
2. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
Open world RPGs are the perfect fodder for TV adaptations since they provide an infinite number of storylines to explore outside of the games. This is what Cyberpunk 2077 is to Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, a newly-released anime on Netflix.
It’s rare for adaptations to be better than the games they’re based on, but the video game had average reviews at best. But it’s not because the bar is low that this anime became a resounding success — Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is just that good, even for anime standards. It even helped put the video game back on everyone’s gaming radar.
It’s set a year before the video game’s events and is the RPG’s prequel. The universe isn’t very different, however. It’s the same corrupt and dystopian environment that our young protagonist, David Martinez, has to navigate. Born into poverty and struck by personal tragedy, David becomes an edgerunner, a mercenary in this futuristic world, to survive.
The mini-series consists of ten short episodes filled with the frenetic energy and violence of the original video game. The anime is fast-paced and explosive, but has a better grasp of storytelling than the video game, making it one of the few TV shows adapted from video games that are, in some ways, better than the original. So if Cyberpunk 2077 left a lot to be desired, the prequel TV series is guaranteed to fill that void.
1. Arcane: League of Legends
Most people who play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video games like League of Legends (LoL) care more about their champion’s skill than their backgrounds. If you’ve played LoL, you might not even realize that the lore is rich and the champions are interconnected. And you might not have known that Jinx and Vi, two of the game’s most popular playable champions, are sisters.
Arcane is an exploration of the complex relationship between the two characters and the different worlds they live in. Vi is a guardian who protects the poverty-stricken city of Zaun from evil elements. Jinx is a major player in the crime family of Silco, the crime lord flooding the streets of Zaun with drugs.
Backed by their respective crew of champions you might recognize from LoL, the embittered siblings go head to head in a battle between saving the city and corrupting it further. For an animated series, it is heavy viewing as we see Jinx continue to be corrupted by evil, and Vi try to bring back the sister she lost and still loved.
Arcane’s powerful storytelling and impressive visuals made it a surprise standout of all the animated series released last year. This is especially true since the video game doesn’t really put its lore front and center. Regardless, the show is well-deserving of the Emmy Award it received for being the best of its genre, and a worthy addition to everyone’s watchlists.
Not all TV adaptations of popular video games turn out to be successful. Some examples of flops are Paramount +’s Halo: The Series and Netflix’s Resident evil — they add nothing to the video games and even end up hurting the legacies theybuilt.
When we do get incredible adaptations, we need to give them a nod. The Witcher, Castlevania, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, and Arcane: League of Legends are new titles that prove the old adage ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ wrong. All make for immersive viewing and perfect for the long lead-up to The Last of Us.
Which of these TV shows adapted from video games is your favorite?