No matter how many hours you devote to a video game, there’s always more to explore, especially when it comes to the story. Like any medium, video games are finite: they have a beginning, middle, and end. Luckily, media tie-ins exist to expand these worlds and give players and fans more worldbuilding, characters, and story with which to play.
Comic books are arguably the best video game tie-ins because they combine illustrations and prose, making the two mediums something like spiritual cousins. And the best video game comic books of all time appeal to gamers and readers alike.
Looking at just Western comics, there have been a variety of video game comic books released in the last 30 years, ranging in genre from fantasy roleplay to horror epic. Among them are the following 10 stand-outs, which encapsulate the worlds of their respective titles and expand them at the same time, without sacrificing quality along the way.
Titan Comics started publishing Assassin’s Creed titles in 2014, and each one serves to expand the world of the Ubisoft video games with extended storylines, additional history, and new locations, including Salem, Massachusetts during the Witch Trials, and the Inca Empire, among others. Dark Horse Comics took over the license in 2020, when it published a prequel series to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. Much like the games themselves, there’s enough variety in these comics to appeal to almost any reader.
Batman: The Arkham Saga
The Arkhamverse is still widely celebrated as one of the greatest superhero RPGs of all time, and the tie-in comics are equally good. Published by DC between 2009 and 2015, the Arkhamverse comics add necessary texture and character growth to the series. A collection was published in 2019, and although it may not scratch the itch for additional video games, it at least provides fans with additional content.
The original Bloodborne comics series, written by player and fan Aleš Kot, captures the particular atmosphere of the gothic horror game perfectly. Everyone’s Souls-like gaming experience is different, but this adaptation somehow feels spot-on. Titan Comics has published a variety of Bloodborne titles since this initial run began in 2018, but this first, magical series is what kicked it all off.
Cyberpunk 2077 generated a ton of controversy before its official launch, then received dozens of bad reviews because of how poorly CD Projekt Red handled its release. However, players were still interested in the open-world concept of the game and the overall story, which has since been explored through other mediums.
One of those is the Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team series from Dark Horse Comics, which follows the character Nadia as she works with Trauma Team International. She becomes the sole survivor after her team is massacred, and has to navigate that trauma as she’s assigned to a new team and has to re-enter the world. It’s dark, gritty, and painful, but an overall stunning read.
Dark Horse’s Dragon Age comics explore the massive fantasy world of one of BioWare’s premier titles. Fans are eagerly awaiting the fourth video game installment in the Dragon Age series, and have been since Inquisition was released in 2014. These comics create a decent stopgap, especially for fans who are interested in the history of the Mage-Templar conflict and how magic functions within Thedas.
In 2021, Dark Horse released Dragon Age: The First Five Graphic Novels, collecting The Silent Game, Those Who Speak, Until We Sleep, Magekiller, and Knight Errant. On August 23, 2022, the publisher will release a second volume, Dragon Age: Wraiths of Tevinter, collecting Deception, Blue Wraith, and Dark Fortress. These won’t necessarily scratch the itch for gamers who want to see the Dragon Age story move forward, but readers interested in high fantasy or players who just want to spend more time in Thedas will definitely fall in love.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Injustice: Gods Among Us is one of the darkest takes on the superheroes in the DC Universe, wherein Superman becomes a tyrant after Joker tricks him into killing Lois Lane and destroying Metropolis with a nuclear bomb. Batman attempts to stop him by compiling a team of heroes from another universe, and players of the video game fight it out, Mortal Kombat style, with heroes they know and love.
The comic adaptation of this award-winning fighting game is a little more existential. Readers are forced to reconcile their favorite heroes and villains with the decisions they make as their ideals are constantly tested. What is justice? And when does it apply?
Life Is Strange
Life Is Strange from Titan Comics started as a four-part limited series based on the video game of the same name, but it’s since expanded into a six-volume story with more than 20 issues total. The final volume was released in May, and the entire arc is a must-read for anyone who loves the game and has become invested in the characters and relationships.
Even readers who don’t know the game will find something to love in the comic series. The art is evocative and warm, the writing quick-witted; this truly feels like an expansive epic all its own.
Dark Horse’s Mass Effect comics fill in the blank spaces between games in the original trilogy and provide history and context for DLC missions, like Liara’s takedown of the Shadow Broker in Mass Effect 2. Through incredibly dynamic, colorful art and sharp writing that understands the impact of the original trilogy and its impeccable story, the Mass Effect comics will appeal to diehard players and curious readers alike.
In addition to a variety of guide books, children’s picture books, and even I Can Read! titles for kids, Minecraft has also been adapted into a series of graphic novels from Dark Horse and Mojang Studios. Since Minecraft is a sandbox where players can effectively do anything they want, the graphic novels feature a variety of characters, stories and settings, with visual cues that firmly anchor each one in the world of the game.
Silent Hill is perhaps one of the most viscerally terrifying horror games of all time, and the comics from IDW Publishing completely nail the tone. These volumes explore the lives of various characters in the Silent Hill universe, which not only expands the overall world-building, but gives readers individual, incredibly haunting tales with graphic narratives that rival the immersion of the video game.
Don’t miss the 30 best video game stories ever.