There are films, TV shows, or even musicals that would surprisingly make for an interesting video game. One such property that spans both literature and cinema is the dense world of Harry Potter. No stranger to video game adaptations, players have already experienced the tale of the boy who lived. Now the Harry Potter world is being explored more deeply in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
Originally a non-narrative book companion, Fantastic Beasts is now a cinematic franchise with five total films being planned. Building upon the wizarding universe already known by millions, Fantastic Beasts will certainly become a huge box office hit. This new development raises the question of what could a Fantastic Beasts video game be like?
STARTING A NEW TALE
Revolving around the young wizard Newt Scamander, the Fantastic Beasts movie tells an entirely new tale for fans of the books and films. Set in 1930s America, the wizarding school of Hogwarts is but a mention in a different magic world. It’s this new, yet familiar, setting that could be built upon in a Fantastic Beasts video game.
CASTING A SPELL
Starting out as adventure titles, the Harry Potter games released by EA slowly morphed through the years. Evolving past their roots, the Harry Potter titles became sprawling sandbox games and cover-based shooters. This genre shift was to account for the changing market landscape between console generations and the different tones explored in the films.
A Fantastic Beasts game would no doubt have to have a gameplay hook as it’s the market standard. The question is what should be the key element that tries to hook players in? Oddly enough, a Fantastic Beasts game could benefit from taking inspiration from none other than the Dark/Demon Souls series.
The Souls franchise may be odd to mention since people associate brutal gameplay and one-hit kills with those games. Besides that, one of the hallmarks of the Souls series is its atmosphere and focus on finely crafted combat design. The Souls games also thrive on immersing players into the brilliant worlds created by the development teams. Stepping into a Souls game offers the player with a sense of the lore merely by looking at the environment that surrounds them. It’s this same emphasis which could pay off exponentially within a Fantastic Beasts game.
GOTTA CATCH THEM ALL
The central plot of the Fantastic Beasts movie involves the unleashing of various creatures onto the unsuspecting streets of New York City. An interesting gameplay element to explore would be attempting to catch these creatures of various sizes and temperaments. However, a Fantastic Beasts game wouldn’t best be suited to become a faux Pokemon title which uses the same capture mechanics non-stop until players become bored.
A more interesting approach to take would be focusing on a few beast encounters and build them up. Scenarios would entail players having to use gameplay mechanics, along with everything else they’ve learned, to successfully capture the beasts.
Focusing on boss encounters, this design choice could also slightly mimic what the Souls series does – offer something memorable. With no two creatures being the same in Fantastic Beasts, the possibilities would be endless to offer gripping situations in which players would have to use all the magical skills they have to capture a beast or vanquish a dark wizard.
A Fantastic Beast game could also follow what was established by Shadow of the Colossus eleven years ago. While lighter on narrative, SOTC showed that a game could succeed if you give the player something engaging to do. It would help if a Fantastic Beasts game had secondary content like puzzles that could extend the experience and immersion. Building up encounters with awe-inspiring beasts like the Thunderbird or the Graphorn would lend a true sense of wonder to the gaming experience. More importantly, it would provide a level of skill and scale that not many games provide these days.
THE DUNGEONS OF NEW YORK
The old Harry Potter games excelled most when players could fully immerse themselves into the wizarding world. The game adaptations of Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince achieved this immersion the best. Both games allowed players to explore Hogwarts and complete various side missions such as going to potions class.
Recreating an open-world version of 1930s New York wouldn’t be entirely feasible from a development standpoint due to a high budget and production period. Though again, taking a note from the Souls series could have a benefit for a Fantastic Beasts game. In place of a sandbox environment could be dense hubs to explore. These connected areas would be adequate enough for immersion and to convey the personality of old New York.
The New York setting would be quite a character in itself since games in older periods are rarely done. The inner workings of New York with its sewers, underground trains, and surrounding parks would provide adequate dungeons to explore.
A Fantastic Beasts game would be best suited staying true to the world established by J.K. Rowling. So it would be odd to have tonal shifts or gameplay that doesn’t feel authentic to a magical atmosphere. With that said, the general template of the film and lore allows near endless possibilities to explore.
As always, Fantastic Beasts is a group effort as Newt receives help from wizards, witches, and even a Muggle. This scenario would easily allow co-op play, either locally or online, within the main story or side modes. A multiplayer component with gameplay inspired by the Souls series set in a unique environment would be a huge selling point. It would likely be fun delving into a dungeon with a friend while performing different magical abilities in an effort to successfully capture a beast.
Beyond the aspect of online components, there’s also the factor of expanding the core game. The freshness of the Fantastic Beasts lore means there’s potential to explore different narrative facets. This could range from DLC set in the past focused on the Elder Wand or the dark wizard Grindelwald. Additional content could explore Newt’s past at Hogwarts prior to expulsion, or new encounters in New York rescuing Muggles from Wizards with ill intent.
Not having the same boss like structure as the core game, these DLC extensions could pave the way for new titles. Future installments of the Fantastic Beasts franchise will no doubt explore new facets of the wizarding world with the next film set in France. With that said, these smaller DLC episodes could have a more adventure like emphasis indicative of the future games in the franchise.
DREAM OR REALITY?
Currently, a Google Daydream VR experience, mobile game, and Lego Dimensions add-on are the are the Fantastic Beasts “games” being offered. With a wide demographic fond of the franchise, a game that further explores the Harry Potter universe could see success similar to the gamble WB took with Shadow of Mordor. Players are given something familiar, but new, to explore, experience, and captivate them. Perhaps Warner Bros. will realize the true potential the Fantastic Beasts franchise has in gaming since millions of fans no doubt want to enter the world of magic themselves.