Everyone loves a bit of fantasy game design. Whether you’re dreaming about a next gen reboot of a lost series or arguing why Call of Duty should have platforming, we all have game design ideas that will probably never see the light of day. However, this is one that absolutely should be made and I’m calling out for a brave development team to take it on. The Thing (1982) is a true horror classic with timeless physical special effects and the dream team of John Carpenter and Ennio Morricone providing the soundtrack. If you haven’t watched it then get that remedied now; I’ll wait.
Ok, we all on board now? There was a previous game based on The Thing, released way back in 2002, scarily almost as far in the past now as the movie was to it (God, we’re getting old). Available on PlayStation 2, original Xbox, and Windows it is a clunky but ambitious squad based survival shooter with some really cool innovations that were clearly ahead of its time. Returning to it recently I was struck by how many of its squad interactions and survival ideas have been incorporated into more modern titles. I’d certainly recommend checking it out if you can get hold of The Thing and have the ability to play it. I’m not arguing for a remastered release though, cool as that would be.
Recent years have seen a resurgence of classic 80s horror icons in games. Whether through Mortal Kombat’s Pokemon-esque quest to catch every screen monster in its bloody grasp, or through standalone games featuring the likes of the Terminator, Giger’s Alien, and the Predator, it’s clear that there is a desire for these iconic monsters from designers and fans alike. Whilst not all of these have been successful – for every Alien Isolation there’s a Predator Hunting Grounds – what I’ve got in mind is the perfect fusion of past and present, cinematic horror and gaming.
Imagine, if you will, the location, threat, and atmosphere of The Thing in beautifully realised modern graphics. Exposed surfaces glistening with ice, survivor’s breath misting in the freezing air, persistent and realistic footprints in the snow to track and realistic fire physics to illuminate your passage through unpowered areas. Visually The Thing is crying out for a modern gaming take but the inspiration for thinking about this now comes from a very different looking title – Among Us.
Survival horror multiplayer games already exist – Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th for example – but in these titles it is clear who is the monster and who is the terrified potential victim. The central idea of the immensely popular Among Us, though, is perfectly suited to The Thing. The most terrifying aspect of this alien is its ability to mimic, inhabit and corrupt the bodies of others. Multiplayer matches would take on a whole new dynamic as you would never know for sure whether one of you was infected.
Sure, you could act on your suspicions by banishing a teammate into the frozen tundra or torching them with a flamethrower, yet doing so could risk the life of an innocent crewmate and whatever skills and knowledge they might have possessed. When you think about it, the emergent stories found in Among Us – of scheming imposters and overriding paranoia – reflect The Thing’s plot down to a tee.
What do you think? Does the world need a new The Thing Game and how would you envisage it shaping up? Let us know in the comments and also suggest any other horror properties that could benefit from a shiny new video game adaptation.