TV shows and video games, they don't usually mix well. Just take a look back and the evidence is clear. 24: The Game achieved a mediocre score of 62 out of 100 on Metacritic, while Lost: Via Domus is gifted with an even more embarrassing score of 54. Both stellar TV shows, both with noticeably less than stellar video game adaptations.
So it's pretty safe to say that mixing TV shows and video games is similar to mixing drinking and kissing; it's messy, it's ugly, and 90 percent of the time it was never a good idea to mix the two things in the first place. But could a game based on Supernatural break the mold, and redefine what it means to be called a TV show video game?
Carry On My Wayward... Sons?
Supernatural follows the story of Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers who travel across the US, hunting monsters. In their own words, their job is:
"Saving people, hunting things — the family business."
The show is still going strong, with the 12th season of the hit TV series hitting TV screens on October 13. So the question burning my mind is: If a Supernatural video game were to be released, what would be the plot?
There are a couple of ways it could go. First of all, the plot could follow the story already told during Supernatural's 11 aired seasons. This would allow fans to really feel like they were in Sam and Dean's world as they take on familiar bad guys and we get to relive each situation from the boys' perspectives. However, this approach would most likely doom the game to the same fate as previous TV spinoff games, as repeating the known plot would lack additional story depth and character development.
For a Supernatural game to really work, it should have its own new story, branching out to a plot not yet explored in the TV series. This would not only enable the game to provide some added depth and content for fans of Supernatural, but would also help it to stand out as a TV series video game adaptation that's finally worth picking up.
Take The Walking Dead franchise as an example. The stellar TV series translated into the realm of gaming through Telltale's stunning Walking Dead episodic game series. However, this game had many different characters to the TV series, and a much different plot. On the other hand, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct featured two main characters from the show in a prequel of sorts, but ended up flopping due to its lackluster gameplay and story.
Learning From The Pros
In order for a Supernatural video game to work, the developers have to look at what already works in the gaming industry. They'd have to pluck ideas from those successes to give themselves a better chance of surviving in the unforgiving jungle of video game retail.
One particular title that a Supernatural game could glean inspiration from is Grand Theft Auto V. As one of the most successful games ever made, and the crowning jewel that adorns Rockstar's crown, GTA V could teach a lot to a potential Supernatural video game, with its focus on large-scale, open-world exploration.
So for a Supernatural game to truly capture the essence of the show, it would need to be open world, with Sam and Dean traveling across America in Baby, Dean's trusty '67 Chevrolet Impala. It's important that Baby is given enough freedom to roam, taking Sam and Dean wherever they need to go.
GTA V allows the player to explore the vast region of Los Santos, which is based heavily on Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. This landscape provides a good mixture of dense urban sprawl and boundless countryside, teeming with activities to take part in and chaos to cause. A landscape like this would undoubtedly be the perfect match for a game based on Supernatural, giving players the full freedom to explore the world and take on cases as Sam and Dean, while giving them the ability to explore the terrain with Baby.
As well as the open-world platform, a Supernatural game could take inspiration from GTA V's character-swapping mechanic, in which players dynamically jump between the game's three main characters, allowing them to experience different missions and use different abilities. This mechanic could apply to a Supernatural game, as the player could switch between Sam and Dean whenever they wished. Each brother may have different abilities or skills when they are active, allowing for a range of combat options, or simply allowing the player to explore the different strengths in a variety of situations.
Running The Family Business Requires A Professional
The second game that could provide a strong influence for a potential Supernatural game would be The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Currently boasting more than 200 awards, and with its place firmly cemented in the vast majority of Best RPG lists, The Witcher III really is a marvel in the world of gaming.
At a glance, The Witcher III tells the story of Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, or simply put, a monster hunter who gets paid to deal with big, scary creatures (just like the beefed-up Bambi you can see in the photo above). He travels the land, searching far and wide, each Pokém... Wait, wrong game...
Essentially, the idea of taking on monster-hunting contracts would translate very well to a game based on Supernatural, a show where the main characters literally take on monster-hunting jobs all across America. The contract system may be a good feature to take inspiration from, as Sam and Dean could tackle various jobs on their travels, and be rewarded for completing these campaigns with XP, weapons and bonuses.
Elementary, My Dear Winchester
Finally, two more inspirational games that spring to my mind when thinking of a Supernatural adaptation are 2011's L.A. Noire, and 2014's Murdered: Soul Suspect. In these games, players were tasked with investigating crime scenes and piecing together clues — two integral elements to Supernatural.
Players could search crime scenes, examine the bodies and gath information. From this, Sam and Dean could uncover which monster needed to be hunted, and possibly use their father's journal to find said monster's weaknesses and habits (in similar style to The Witcher III's Bestiary system).
As well as simple crime scene investigation, interrogations could also take precedence within each job. For this, a Supernatural game would most definitely want to take inspiration from L.A. Noire, in which the interrogations were particularly believable, thanks to advances in facial animations and dialogue.
Get In, We're Going Hunting!
After developers look to some of the highly successful games listed above and find a unique perspective on the story of the Winchester brothers, I firmly believe that a Supernatural game could turn out to be a success and leave its mark (no, not the mark of Cain, for all you Supernatural nerds out there) as one of the first truly successful video games based on a TV show.
But remember, if we ever actually get to go on this badass road trip, there's one rule:
Let us know how you think a Supernatural game could work in the comments section below.