Movies that feel like video games

Every once in awhile I get this feeling watching certain movies that I‘m really just watching a commentary-less let’s play of a weird hyper narrative-focused game.

For example, the first time I watched Barking Dogs Never Bite directed by Bong Joon-ho (who went on to direct Parasite), this feeling was very intense for me. 80% of the movie is about two people with a complicated, bizarre connection between them, navigating around an apartment complex. The way the movie is shot, that very normal apartment complex ends up feeling like a fantastical other universe. It glimpses into some dark corners and makes all sorts of insinuations, then just ends, leaving you feeling kind of weird.

After the movie was over that first time watching it, I immediately wanted to play a game that is just walking around a weird apartment building, going through hallways, staircases, and basements, and talking to people.

A lot of movies that have a distinct sense of place end of feeling video gameish to me. One of the big joys of video games, for me, is the ability to walk around a world completely different from the one I live in and explore at my leisure. However, as far as things go, I don't think there are that many truly interesting video game worlds. Even with games I love, I feel like I have to actually try in order to try in order to fully imagine the world, like playing with dolls. Movies are never like that for me. If they're good, then, even with a restricted camera angle and scripted reveals of the world, there is usually no effort on my part to engage with this other universe being presented to me.

Often the movie places I see feel way more intriguing than any video game place I've explored. Part of this might be because in a movie you're only seeing the world through a camera angle carefully selected by the creators, rather than being able to poke into anything you desire, like in a video game. Creating a convincing world that will be seen from every angle is obviously a lot harder, especially when every object in that world has to be created from scratch by someone. Still, even with realistic, mundane environments, the best movies seem to be a lot more clever and creative with their world-building than the best video games.

Despite all that, whenever I see a good movie world, one of my first thoughts is usually "I wish this were a game."

Are there any movies that you have that feeling about? Of course it can be for other reasons than just the world-building. Maybe the movie immediately suggests an interesting mechanic, or it has a very video gameish story.

To be clear, I'm not talking about already existing movie adaptations of video games (or vice versa). These often just _look_ vaguely like what they're based on without actually _feeling_ like it.

The pier scene in Branded to Kill is the first thing that jumps to mind. Joe Shishido is crawling under a moving car and there's a first person perspective shot that looks uncannily like an FPS now.

Other first person perspective movies like Dark Passage also have a real video game feel for similar reasons.

Crank 1 and 2 do this somewhat intentionally and are fairly self aware about it. Hardcore Henry has a FPS view gimmick.

Foreign: Ashii and ssipak maybe, district b13 (parkour reminds me of platforming) both of The Raid movies.

We can get into a recursive loop by talking about stuff like Max Paine, since they themselves were so heavily influenced by film.

It's hard to watch most CGI movies (especially early ones) without having that "I feel like I'm watching a cutscene" feeling. Which became more prominent as cutscenes started to be more like films.

This often comes up when talking about Edge of Tomorrow, since it‘s about a dude who fights aliens and repeats the same day every time he dies, but I’m bringing it up because I saw it while trying to 100% Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, so the video game-ness of trying to perfect a run through a level really stuck with me. The best part for me was just the scene where Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are just trying to quietly infiltrate a government building, and Cruise keeps telling her how they need to navigate around the patrol routes of certain NPCs who know their faces. You only ever see the run where they succeed, but it‘s clear Cruise has memorized everything after dozens of prior attempts. It’s like watching someone trying to ghost through a Hitman level.

Actually, I missed a lot of the conversation around 1917 when it came out, but did people talk about how video-gamey that movie is? A whole movie following one character in a (simulated) single shot, and it's a war movie, a WWI war movie even. I mean, WWI's not been as exhaustively depicted in games as WWII, but a lot of the visual iconography is pretty dang similar. Plus, there's even been several AAA games in recent years like God of War play out in a single unbroken camera move for _immersion purposes_. We've had movies like Hardcore Henry mimic the look of video game cameras for schlock, but it's kind of weird to see a big prestige period film do it, probably unintentionally.

Man, there's a scene in that movie where the guy has to stealth kill an enemy while staying out of another soldier's line of sight. I could practically see the button prompt.

@GigaSlime#4891 I'm so glad you said 1917, it felt like a Half Life to me, the way it goes through a few setting changes through traversal with a few scripted sequences & set piece environments

@Moon#4892 There's a part where the screen goes completely black when they go through an abandoned tunnel, and I knew it was to hide a cut, but it also felt like it was masking the load time for the new map



Edge of Tomorrow

Yeah, it feels like a video-game for sure. The author of All You Need Is Kill (of which Edge of Tomorrow is a film adaptation) specifically mentioned video-games as being an inspiration.

i know Twin Peaks has already gotten a lot of love from games (especially Deadly Premonition) but i would love to play some sort of hang-out game in Lynch's surreal, disenchanted Hollywood/LA as seen in Inland Empire, Mulholland Drive, and Lost Highway. i just want to see the weird little vignettes of all the bit characters and explore a world that is okay with being strange without having the need to explain itself. it feels like most games try to over-explain a lot of things though unfortunately!

in another way, the movie Annihilation felt like a video game in the worst way possible to me. it felt like it was trying to have the very explicit pacing, tone, and direction of a AAA game which was extremely off-putting to me.

@cera#4914 Based on your post, it sounds to me like you might really enjoy Disco Elysium. Now there is a game that‘s not afraid to be weird or present its world without feeling the need to explain anything. It’s also populated by bit characters with their own agendas, and it‘s impossible tell whether any of them are telling the truth about anything, or whether there is a truth to be told about. (I haven’t finished it yet, so I don't know.)

Too bad about Annihilation, the movie, because Annihilation, the book made me feel like I was reading a cool take on a dungeon-dive RPG.

@whatsarobot#4915 you‘re right, because i’ve played all the way through Disco Elysium and loved it! it captures a bit of what i like about those movies for sure. and i‘ve heard great things about the Annihilation series, so maybe i’ll check them out someday.

@cera#4918 would only recommend the books if you love ambiguity. That's not a dis on the books.

@Moon#4919 That‘s for sure. If ever there was a trilogy of books that felt loosely connected, that’s the one.

@whatsarobot#4920 I actually felt like it made sense to me by the time I was done with it but I had to WORK for that because nothing was spelled out and there were just enough hinted at details to build a picture but not enough to know if that picture was right.

Here was[ my attempt to summarize the trilogy ]( SPOILERS FOR ALL THREE BOOKS):

@Moon#4922 Wow, Moon! Reading your summary, it sounds plausible enough, but it‘s also been years since I read those books, so I don’t feel like I'm in a position to comment coherently on them, other than in vague and broad strokes.

You're making me consider a re-read, though.

The second-to-last paragraph, about stepping into something so beyond our human experience, resonates for sure. VanderMeer seemed to be working through his take on Lovecraftian, unknowable horrors with that story.

@whatsarobot#4923 one of my favorite quotes from the author about the annihilation series is that one if his principle inspirations was the idea of “a deer in new york city” but humanity is the deer.

@Moon#4924 We better make a book thread, it sounds like.

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is basically a beatemup in structure. It rules.

@whatsarobot#4925 /r/printsf is my favorite subreddit. One of my only party tricks is recommending people SF works based on their interests. My sister has read every single nebula award winner. I have Opinions. I dont want to toot my own horn but I've read a lot of things in this area over the course of my life.

Well, it's more the other way around, really, but Bloodsport (1988) seems to have inspired the modern structure of fighting games that blew up in the 90s (whereas Golden Harvest movies where the inspiration for these earlier attempts like Yie Ar Kung-Fu and the first Street Fighter).

The tournament, the confined stage, the many fighters from many countries with their unique costume, fighting style and secret technique, the crazy last boss (who even cheats like an SNK boss) etc. All these remind me of Bloodsport. It's all the more interesting when you consider this scene.

Also, some of you probably know the mythology behind Bloodsport and its [ludicrous "true story" origins]( One of the main points of criticism asserting that the existence of the Kumite (as described by Frank Dux) is complete horseshit relies on the logistics of the tournament and how impossible it would be to pull off both for administrative, economic, legal and purely mathematical reasons. Notably, according to Dux's description of the tournament's format and number of rounds, there were more fighters in the Kumite than living humans on planet Earth. That's a tiny logistical problem. Well, this actually made me wonder how Street Fighter II's tournament and especially how KOF tournaments would be possible in the real world and the many logistical (and logical) issues are funny to think about. That Rugal dude was really commited to his idea!

One last note. I find it interesting that Bong Joon-ho inspired this thread because Snowpiercer (adapted from a european comics) is structured very similarly to a video game and would have been the more obvious connection to me between his work and games.

(little warning, this trailer has some gnarly head gunshot scenes)

I love this Filipino film. I really cool parallel narrative about a young federal agent & rookie assassin as they pursue/avoid each other. I got heavy Sleeping Dogs & Hitman vibes the whole time. I keep thinking about how cool it would be to play a game that switched off between those two perspectives. The training montage the assassin has to go to reminds me of starting "level"/tutorial that the previously mentioned games would have. The urban exploring throughout Manila has a lot of character and grit that reminds me again of Sleeping Dogs, or what I thought Shenmue II was like when I was a kid. There's also conspiracy unraveling more conspiracy which is also pretty AAA crime-gamey when they go that serious route.