Prose & Pixels

Prose & Pixels #4: Beginner’s Guide to Video Games & Novelisations, Part 1


Prose & Pixels is a feature that combines two of my loves: books and video games. Here I’ll discuss all sorts of things to do with the two, whether it’s recommendations, influences or just a good old chat.

Today I want to introduce some video game series, and their novelisations.

This post is mostly aimed at people who are new to video games, or those who are interested in playing but don’t know where to start. I’m listing some well-known series, as well as their novelisations, in case you want to try the books out too!

The Assassin’s Creed series

Assassin's Creed

[icon name=”fa-question-circle”] What is it?

The series follows a man named Desmond Miles, who using a machine called the Animus, delves into the memories of his ancestors to learn more about the rivalry between the Assassins and the Knights Templar. The games cover several time periods: the Third Crusade (Assassin’s Creed), the Renaissance (Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed Revelations), the Colonial era (Assassin’s Creed III, Assassin’s Creed Liberation and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag), as well as the French Revolution (the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity). Playing as his ancestors (the most famous of which is probably Ezio Auditore), you must uncover the secrets to becoming a master assassin, as well as the Templars’ plans.

[icon name=”fa-thumbs-up”] Why should I play it?

Because you get to be an assassin? Also, meeting various historical figures like Leonardo Da Vinci, the Borgias and the Sforzas (Caterina Sforza even quotes her infamous line) and Niccolo Machiavelli is amazing. The digital versions of locations like 15th century Venice and 16th century Rome are also gorgeous. And did I mention you get to be a super stealthy assassin?

[icon name=”fa-book”] Novelisations

All of the following are by Oliver Bowden: Renaissance, Brotherhood, The Secret Crusade, Revelations, Forsaken and Black Flag.

The Bioshock series

Bioshock Infinite

[icon name=”fa-question-circle”] What is it?

A series of games that explores the idea of a dystopia/utopia. In Bioshock and Bioshock 2 (which I have previously discussed), the player ends up in an underwater utopia known as Rapture. Unfortunately, the city isn’t quite what it once was, and is now filled with drug-addled mutants, psychopaths and terrifying hulking creatures known as Big Daddies. In Bioshock Infinite, the third game in the series but the first chronologically, the player finds themselves in a seemingly utopian city floating in the sky. Booker, the player character, has been instructed to rescue a young girl who is imprisoned there in order to pay off his debts. However, how it always is with these sorts of places, things are not quite what they seem…

[icon name=”fa-thumbs-up”] Why should I play it?

In regards to the first two games: because they’re scary and so, so immersive, you may be terrified but you’ll keep ploughing on! As for Bioshock Infinite, it is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL game with a mesmerising (and heartbreaking) story.

[icon name=”fa-book”] Novelisations

Rapture by John Shirley and Ken Levine, and Bioshock Infinite: Mind in Revolt by Joe Fielder and Ken Levine.

The Mass Effect series

Mass Effect

[icon name=”fa-question-circle”] What is it?

A trilogy set in the future, where the human race have discovered faster than light travel – and many, many alien races. The player assumes the role of Commander Shepard, a completely customisable character who can be either male or female. During the first game, Shepard must stop a rogue by the name of Saren from taking over the galaxy with an army of sentient mechanised beings, called the Geth. However, Shepard soon discovers that there is a much bigger threat on the horizon – an alien race known as the Reapers, who purge all life in the galaxy every 50,000 years, and their deadline is fast approaching. Through his or her journey, Shepard builds up a loveable squad to join them aboard the SSV Normandy, not all of whom may survive the mission…

[icon name=”fa-thumbs-up”] Why should I play it?

Mass Effect is my favourite game series for so many reasons. But the main reason is that you are in control of every choice Shepard makes – and whatever you choose may have a permanent effect on the world, the galaxy, the universe – forever. Let that planet die and it’s gone, its people wiped out, no more resources, nothing. Betray that squad mate and that’s it – they’ve left you, never to return. Every choice you make has a consequence, whether it be bad or good. Not to mention that every single character is fantastically created, and you feel a genuine connection with each and every one. This video game makes me cry, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

[icon name=”fa-book”] Novelisations

There are both novelisations and graphic novels for Mass Effect: Revelation, Ascension and Retribution by Drew Karpyshyn, Deception by William C. Dietz, Redemption, Evolution, Invasion, Homeworlds and Foundation by Mac Walters (graphic novels).

I’ll be doing a couple of posts of this type, look out for Dragon Age, Deus Ex and Halo in the next post!

Are you new to video games, or have you played any of these? Have you read any of the novelisations?


20 thoughts on “Prose & Pixels #4: Beginner’s Guide to Video Games & Novelisations, Part 1”

  1. You know I have read tie-ins for movies (well, StarWars), and I have rad tie-ins for Tabletop games I have never once played (hello Warhammer). But Despite playing a whole lot of video games I have never read a tie in for one. Though I am pretty sure if the Warcraft ones had been out when I was in high school I would be singing a different song.

    1. I’ve read a couple of SW graphic novels, and when the Phantom Menace novelisation came out I read it until it fell apart 😛 I recently found out it was actually written by Terry Brooks!

  2. I’m currently playing Bioshock Infinite and it’s so goreous. I love the esthetic they created in that game. My boyfriend keeps recommending me the Assassin’s Creed series, but I keep thinking they might not really be for me; I’m more of a hack and smash faces in kind of girl. I have yet to try any book tir ins. Maybe after I actually completely finish a game 😀

    1. YES, Infinite is BEAUTIFUL ❤ So different compared to the first two games as well, in terms of appearance.

      I'm actually playing Assassin's Creed Brotherhood right now. I've only completed the second game, and it was both amazing and frustrating. It was addictive and really fun, but Ezio also liked occasionally just doing his own thing so I often ended up shouting at him 😛 You know, nothing to do with me… I'd say give it a try – I don't like the first one much, maybe start with 2 which most people agree is much better anyway.

  3. I’ve read the novels for Mass Effect (even the awful William Dietz one) but I haven’t done the Bioshock novels and I really should. I once checked out the first Assassin’s Creed novel though. To be honest, I thought it was a waste of time if you’ve played the games, since it was mostly a recap. I prefer novelizations that focus on other characters or events or times, they help expand the world 🙂

    1. I’ve read some of them, including the Dietz one. Ughhhh it was just… no. No.

      Oh, it’s a recap? I’m sort of tempted by them, but I thought they were new stories. A recap seems pretty lazy :/

  4. I’m a huge fan of The assassin’s creed series 🙂 I’ve only played two of the games, but I’ve seen my boyfriend played all of them and it’s beautiful to look at. I also love the story line (even when the whole Animus story is sometimes a bit weird to me)

    I’m currently playing Brotherhood and sometimes it’s so frustrating, haha. Ezzio seems to lead his own life every now and then, jumping off roofs when I don’t want him :p

    1. Yesss, it’s so incredible being able to explore historic locations (and climb all over them!)

      I’m playing Brotherhood too, and I COMPLETELY GET WHAT YOU MEAN. He died when I was playing last night because I tried to make him jump up, and instead he jumped OFF a tower and plummeted to his death… umm, oops :/

  5. Teehee, I’m so glad you are loving Assassin’s Creed right now. I knew you would 😀 I need to find the time to continue my playthrough. I definitely want to get my hands on Bioshock, and I *love* the idea of every choice you make having consequences in Mass Effect. I have played so many games where you can shoot or insult people and still have the same old storyline play out; I think this would be a nice change!

    1. Well I’ve basically given up on the first one, but I finished 2 the other week and now it’s time for Brotherhood! I’ve played a couple of hours, but how cool is it being able to witness all the family drama of 16th century Italy? 😛 Those Borgias and Sforzas!

      YES PLAY MASS EFFECT NOW PLEASE. The first one is quite cheap on Steam and it’s always in the sales. SO GOOOOOOD.


    Though truthfully I’M STILL STUCK on Bioshock 1, but I have bought both the second the Infinite! So those will definitely be FINISHED by next Christmas, hopefully! (It’s just that I walk really slowly in the games)

    And I still haven’t played Mass Effect 1 yet, because it wasn’t out on PS3 when I got 2 and 3. Yeah I know. I might be able to buy it on the PS network though.

    1. EEEEEK 😀

      Where are you stuck on Bioshock? I know there was one bit that bugged me for a little while, so the games aren’t too long – I think I finished all 3 in 12 hours each or so.

      DO ITTTTTT. You won’t regret it 🙂

  7. I haven’t played any of these yet, but Assassin’s Creed III and BioShock Infinite are sitting next to my Xbox. I need to start them! And I have heard really good things about Mass Effect too. Needless to say, I should be gaming this weekend.

    I haven’t read any novels based on games before, but I think I would enjoy it.

    1. Yes! 😀 I haven’t played AC3 yet, and I probably won’t be able to for a while now (unless my laptop is even more capable than I realised), but Bioshock Infinite is just gorgeous. It’s the shorter game of the two by far, but I guess it depends what sort of gaming experience you feel like 🙂

  8. I remember the AC books! I remember picking one up at random and having a read of the first few chapters. I’ve always wanted to play AC for many reasons: historical stuff, being a cool assassin, etc. The novelisations may just help me tide myself over until I get my hands on the actual game. 😛

    1. Did you enjoy what you read? 😀

      PLAY ITTTT. I’m playing AC: Brotherhood, but honestly, the best part is wandering around this digital version of 16th century Rome. My gosh… ❤

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