Fables and fairy tales have been wisps of family entertainment for generations, with their morals and meanings forever being tweaked and repurposed for countless age groups and regions. As for today, we live with an abundance of stories, both enchanting and twisted, all of which contribute towards that great anthology in the clouds. Video game developers, however, like to spin them a little differently — occasionally putting them through a blender and essentially pouring out a new world altogether.
Evidently, some creators don’t agree with how certain fairy tales end, or simply prefer to replace their original meanings with one from their own bank of ideas. And that’s fine. After all, it’s not as if they’re locked to any particular domain, and so seeing them tampered with and reproduced isn’t really a big deal in this day and age. Just look at these five fable-based games for example.
5. Alice: Madness Returns
Alice in Wonderland certainly isn’t the most family-friendly franchise in the world — especially when you take into account the countless drug references, mental illnesses and hallucinations that make up for most of the media and lore. And movie directors have started to embrace that gloomy counterpart, with Tim Burton piloting a darker series that focuses a little more on the madness that Alice encounters. But before that, however, it was American McGee who dared to tackle the wondrous world of Wonderland and give it an entirely new meaning, coating it in jet-black textures and mindless brutality.
Alice: Madness Returns is a follow-up to American McGee’s Alice, which launched exclusively for PC back in 2000. With doom and dismay looming around the corner, Wonderland rests on the brink of destruction. Unfortunately for Alice, the only way the world can return to peace is through unlocking dark memories and understanding them. Oh, and brutally slaughtering half of Wonderland along the way, of course. Can’t forget that part.
4. The Wolf Among Us
When it comes to fables and fairy tales in video games, The Wolf Among Us definitely takes pride in exploiting every last one of them. But how the game manages to do it is what’s interesting. Even with the endless foul language and adult humour that it employs — it still manages to keep a strange hold on the source material and breathe life into its known characteristics. So what if the Big Bad Wolf is a whiskey drinking, emotionally bankrupt sheriff? It works. Or, at least it does in The Wolf Among Us.
The Wolf Among Us takes place in Fabletown, where whimsical and wacky creatures flood the streets and thrive to become human. Using an elixir known locally as “glamour”, the city’s population are able to obscure their real identities and uphold a common appearance. However, after the suburban world starts to dwindle into darkness and the politics begin to corrupt its streets, the Big Bad Wolf is soon led on an investigation like no other, where murder and mystery clash with folklore and fantasy.
3. Kingdom Hearts
Despite being one of the most confusing timelines in video game history, Kingdom Hearts is still a beautiful world in which children’s fantasies spring to life and become action-focused heroes. And now, with Disney and Pixar both being at the helm with an entire library of quality platforms to explore, the series itself will only continue to branch out and expand on its kingdom of characters.
Teaming up with guardians Donald and Goofy, key-wielding Sora is thrown into a chain of connected worlds, where a dark force known as the Heartless ravage every element of every landmark, as well as the hearts of every citizen. By using a magical key that holds the power to banish the darkness and return light, Sora and friends must travel the system and return peace to the scattered worlds. That’s probably the simplest way I can describe Kingdom Hearts, to be honest. We’d need another four-hundred pages for all the side stories and whatnot. Enter if you dare, that’s all I’m saying.
2. American McGee’s Grimm
Rooting back to American McGee’s long arm of transformed worlds — another entry worth taking note of is Grimm. Like the early editions published by The Brothers Grimm, the fairy tale and fable-based game focuses on the darker versions of the stories we all know and love today.
As far as gameplay goes, American McGee’s Grimm pretty much consists of squashing happy-go-lucky, fairy-like cityscapes into dark and dismal, monochrome worlds, basically altering our views on the updated stories entirely. Over 47 unique chapters, characters become corrupted and the enchanting environments around them spiral into an everlasting depression. So, it’s basically carrying on the Grimm legacy by destroying anything remotely kind-hearted and replacing it with catastrophe. Take that, Disney. And take that, Pixar.
If you’ve never taken the chance to immerse yourself in a living, breathing novel that turns your choices into chapters — then it’s time to open up Cinders and prepare for a slew of genres all mushed into one. Thanks to developer MoaCube, you too can paint yourself on the canvas and craft a story of your own design.
Cinders follows the red-haired protagonist Cinder, as well as the infamous stepmother and salty sister duo. However, unlike the classic tale, Cinder instead prefers to forge her own Happily Ever After — even if it means defying every moral the children’s version of the character has along the way. But of course, that’s entirely up to you. What will you sacrifice for a happy ending? The story is yours to tell.
So, what did we miss? Are there any fable-based games we should’ve included on this list? What are your thoughts on the above five? Let us know over on our socials here.
Tired of fables? All brushed up on your fairy tales? Still looking for more content? You could always take a look at one of these lists: