Many hit titles are actually secret sequels or spin-offs of less successful games.
Video games are in many ways similar to medieval kings: their well-being depends on those who support them, they usually have fabulous sums at their disposal, and they constantly produce illegitimate children. Some of these children were happily accepted into a large family, while others were labeled as “non-canon spin-off” and banished to hell. But there were also reverse situations when kings (that is, cult games) tried in every possible way to disown their peasant origin in the form of little-known games.
But gamers are able to restore any family tree. Especially when it comes to big titles that contain curious hints of prequels. Some of them managed to sink into oblivion, while others evolved into entire franchises. So it’s time to dive into the complex family ties of games to find out who our favorite games are sending Father’s Day greeting cards to.
Kings Field, Dark Souls
When you are asked if you played the original Dark Souls, they usually mean the Demon’s Souls series from the same FromSoftware. But if suddenly this question is accompanied by a gaze with a sly squint, then we are definitely talking about King’s Field. It’s hard not to notice the similarities between the dark dungeons from King’s Field and Dark Souls, but these games are united not only by the dark setting and the prohibitive complexity of the passage.
For example, in King’s Field 4, you can stumble upon such familiar names as Nagoya Sith, Nashandra and Seine Fortress. Even the legendary Sword of Moonlight first appeared not in the Soulsborne franchise, but in the early 2000s in the King’s Field series. And since FromSoftware likes to leave understatements in the backstory of worlds, it is possible that Verdit is the same doomed kingdom as Lothric and Dranglik.
Snatcher, Metal Gear Solid
You are probably familiar with the Metal Gear Solid franchise, but have you heard of the Snatcher? This game, authored by Kojima, tells the story of a dark future in which an unknown disease has destroyed billions of people, and dangerous robots roam the streets of cities. It even sounds like the beginning of the next part of Metal Gear, and “The Kidnappers”, after whom the game was named, are far from the only robots in Snatcher.
In Snatcher, you can’t walk a couple of steps, so as not to stumble upon references to the Metal Gear series, which at that time did not even exist yet. Your robo partner is proudly named Metal Gear Mk 2, and the game’s lore regularly mentions a threat codenamed Metal Gear that appeared around the 20th century, and this can be called an obvious reference to the events of Metal Gear Solid 2. Here, of course , there were no snakes or melee combat, but Snatcher is still a simultaneous sequel (according to the plot) and a prequel (according to the release year) of Metal Gear Solid. Now try to put this in your head.
Can you quickly recall the main catalyst for events in the Nier series? If suddenly you said that these are fantasy dragons from another dimension, but you were absolutely right. The fact is that in the ending E of the fantasy game Drakengard, the protagonist Kaim and his dragon are transported to Tokyo in 2003, where they are instantly killed by the military. And after their death, magic seeps into the modern world, which acts like a deadly virus.
This explains the post-apocalyptic setting of the first Nier, whose history continues millennia later in Nier: Automata. In the Nier series, you can find various NPCs, one way or another sending us Drakengard. And although the connection between these series is not obvious, in fact, these projects have a single lore.
Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed
Given how much they love to run up and down walls and brandish melee weapons, it’s easy to assume that Altair was influenced by the Prince. Moreover, Assassin’s Creed was originally supposed to be a spin-off of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. In the draft version, the game was called Prince of Persia: Assassins, and it was offered to control a guard who follows the Prince everywhere under the control of AI and protects him from dangers.
Of course, the project was not destined to see the light of day, and in the end it turned into the first part of a long-running series. However, the roots of the Prince of Persia can still be found in Assassin’s Creed. According to game designer Patrice Desile, who led the Assassin’s Creed franchise for a long time, he was always confident that both the Prince himself and Altair deserved the title “Prince of Persia”, despite the different settings and backstories of the heroes.
When passing Portal, it is impossible not to stumble upon the mention of the competition between two research complexes – Aperture Science and “Black Mesa”. But not everyone knows that the plot of Half-Life is directly related to the plot of Portal, and the ending of Half-Life smoothly flows into Chell’s misadventures. Apparently, Aperture went missing from all radars, not only because of the incident with the deadly neurotoxin.
When the AI named GLaDOS wakes up Chell, she makes it clear to the test subject from the very beginning that no one will come to her aid. This is due to the fact that just at that moment the forces of the Alliance invaded the Earth. Interestingly, GLaDOS mentions this invasion indirectly several times when talking about unknown surface conditions. And the most attentive players have probably found the ship dock in Portal 2, where the icebreaker Borey, mentioned in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, once stood.
Wolfenstein, Commander Keen, Doom
There are many famous families in games, and one of them is the family of BJ Blaskowitz, the protagonist of the Wolfenstein franchise. The legendary Nazi fighter is the ancestor of a whole dynasty, which includes heroes from the three most popular projects of the Id Software studio. So, one of BJ’s grandchildren eventually becomes a fearless space explorer – the very same Commander Keen, after whom Commander Keen is named. And already the son of Keane under the pseudonym Dumgai (or the Executioner of Doom) will begin to destroy the hellish evil in the Doom series.
Id Software has confirmed the canonicity of this pedigree in various interviews, adding that all games take place in the same universe. After all, it’s not for nothing that Commander Keane’s skull can be found in Doom (2016). Of course, these games are more spiritual sequels than direct sequels, but we are ready to accept this formality in order to imagine how a clumsy eight-year-old astronaut raised a harsh demon slayer.