Once upon a time, there was an orphaned girl dreaming of escaping the clutches of her wicked stepmother or a prince trying to reverse the curse that turned him into a terrifying beast. Almost all children around the world are familiar with these fabled stories, which date back thousands of years. Indeed, folklorists have found that fairy tales go back to the Bronze Age.
These timeless tales have inspired countless cinematic retellings. The gaming industry has built upon such beloved folk stories, too. From psychological action drama to subversive visual novels, many developers have come up with unique, more adult takes on tales that have been covered time and time again. So, let’s discover some of the best video games that actively revisit the fairy tales of our childhood.
The Wolf Among Us
Everyone doesn’t live happily ever after in the world of The Wolf Among Us. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the fantastical characters of this graphic adventure are having it rough. The story takes place in Fabletown, a clandestine neighbourhood of fairy tale beings that fled their magical homelands to escape the rule of terror of the Adversary tyrant.
All is not well in the Big Apple, as a series of murders bereaves the community. It is up to Sheriff Bigby Wolf – formerly known as the Big Bad Wolf – to get to the bottom of these grim incidents, for the initial murder is just a brutal harbinger of dreadful things to come. Along his investigation, Bigby Wolf crosses paths with many familiar faces, from Snow White to Beauty and the Beast.
In this episodic murder mystery, every decision you make in each chapter affects how the story plays out. Neo-noir aesthetics add even more flair to this interactive whodunit story set in 80s New York. Besides, the game’s simple point-and-click mechanics make it an easy option for non-gamers. Avid readers might also pick up the Fables comic books penned by Bill Willingham after their playthrough, as The Wolf Among Us acts as a prequel to this dark fantasy story.
Cinderella ranks among the most popular fairy tales in history. While the standard version of this classic tale was composed by 17th-century French author Charles Perrault, who laid the very foundations of this literary genre, older variants have been recorded in China and Egypt. In 2012, Cinders came out as yet another modern retelling of this oh-so-well-known story.
In more ways than one, this visual novel takes Cinderella in a groundbreakingly nuanced direction. The plot kicks off in much the same way as the original tale, showing Cinders as a hardworking young woman living alongside her oppressive stepmother and stepsisters. Unlike most previous reimagining of the story, though, the game focuses as much on the fate of its central character as on the motivations of the other three protagonists.
Refraining from any judgment, Cinders delves into what made each protagonist who they are, exploring themes like independence and sisterhood maturely. Even the game’s spin on Cinderella shows her as a more layered individual, prone to making questionable decisions like stealing from her stepmother if the player chooses her to. This full control over the main protagonist also leads to several alternate endings, making Cinders highly replayable.
Alice Madness Returns
Alice in Wonderland is no stranger to interpretation. Generations of scholars, critics, and readers have deemed this classic tale a parable of British colonisation or spotted sexual innuendo in Lewis Caroll’s seemingly innocuous writings. It is no surprise, therefore, that a game such as Alice Madness Returns would drop all naïve pretences to venture into dark territories.
This complex action-adventure game follows young Alice Liddell, who gets discharged from a psychiatric clinic only to be placed in an orphanage for the mentally traumatised. Alice finds solace in the fantasy world of Wonderland, but an evil force is corrupting this whimsical refuge only she can save. A clever retelling with horrific undertones, Alice Madness Returns is proof enough that Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece can be revisited in countless different ways.
Incidentally, many more games have drawn inspiration from this Victorian tale, from puzzle platformers to even slot machines. For gamers looking to strike it lucky, top online casinos boast free pokies like Wizard Games’ Alice in Vegasland and iSoftBet’s Alice Adventure. Players may also discover fairy-tale themed online slots real money. Whether on mobile or desktop, both low-stakes and high-stakes slots await users no matter their budget. Besides, players can grab a range of rewards like no deposit slots bonuses and free spins to fund their bankroll. Handy tips and guidelines also help newcomers navigate online casinos safely.
Disney Dreamlight Valley
In the early 20th century, one American visionary saw the potential of fairy tales on the silver screen. Walt Disney capitalised on the enduring appeal of these magical stories to draw viewers of all ages and demographics to the movie theatres. Fast-forward to 2023, and Disney is now an entertainment empire of colossal proportions.
The American giant broke through gaming in the 1980s with the release of Mickey Mouse on Nintendo’s Wide-Screen Game & Watch. Disney then dropped countless movie tie-in games, some of which became cult classics among gaming circles, such as Castle of Illusion and DuckTales. More recently, Disney Dreamlight Valley also received universal acclaim. This life simulation meets adventure game takes you to an enchanting valley filled with Disney and Pixar heroes and villains.
A spell has befallen these magical beings, forcing them to find safety from the Night Thorns that corrupted their memory behind the locked doors of the Dream Castle. Your goal is to free them from the grip of the Forgetting. Before you lift the curse and bring the magic back to these once-peaceful lands, you shall unlock a series of unique realms teeming with exclusive puzzles, quests, and characters to befriend. Long story short, exploring the Dreamlight Valley is a wet dream for Disney fans.
Fairy tales have been around for millennia. These ageless stories have long made their way to the gaming medium. Apart from the titles listed above, recent entries like Lies of P have also turned classic tales on their heads. And if you’re in the mood for a fairytale movie night, just as many adult-oriented fairy tale adaptations await.