If you’re unfamiliar with the graphic novel The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, let me give you a short summary. The series follows an event known as the recurrence, in which 12 gods are reincarnated every 90 years. Once they return to Earth, they live for 2 years before they die again. While that may sound simple on paper, The Wicked + The Divine ended up being probably the most intelligent story I’ve ever consumed. Sure, some games like Mass Effect nail characterization and their world, but The Wicked + The Divine is immaculately planned out. Minor details from the beginning become relevant at the end, highlighting just how far ahead the creators thought. Because keep in mind, the series started in 2014 and ended in 2019. This was a story thread that had to remain consistent for over 5 years, and remain consistent it did.
As The Wicked + The Divine stands strong along some of my absolute favorite video game stories like Persona 4 and the aforementioned Mass Effect series, as some of the strongest stories in any medium, I started to think about what the series may look like as a video game. To be clear, nothing even resembling so much as a rumor of a video game adaption of the series has come to light. This is simply a fun thought experiment to give the series a little more limelight.
Right up front, I do not think that a direct adaptation of the graphic novel series would not be feasible. Each character in the series has a very specific purpose and identity. In addition, despite the fact that the cast has super powers, there isn’t a significant amount of fighting. However, one of the main components of the lore is that the recurrence occurs every 90 years. This opens up the world for stories that have yet to be told. Very few of the recurrences before the one in the 2010s are discussed in any kind of detail. I think choosing one of these historical recurrences would be the best idea if there were to be a video game made around this lore. So we have the setting. But what would the actual gameplay look like?
Frankly, anything with superpowers screams “RPG” to me. You would be able to choose from one of several gods, each with their own unique powers. While this system could support a character creator system, it would probably make the most sense to have preset characters as all the characters you don’t choose need to still appear within the game. I would imagine that once you pick a character, there would be a system similar to Dragon Age Origins and Octopath Traveler in which each character has a unique origin story. Some characters may already start with their abilities, and some may get them later in the story.
Persona-style elements I think would also make a lot of sense as the series, as I mentioned, doesn’t have too much fighting, so social sim elements would definitely be a possibility. There were certainly be a lot of different romantic pairings in the series, so romances like in Bioware games would also make a lot of sense. A focus on relationships between characters should be a primary focus as the graphic novel was very character driven. If the game did decide to have a fair amount of combat, it could still do so by choosing a historical setting in which a war was occurring. I don’t think I can imagine the combat being anything else besides an action RPG, it just make the most sense. A turn based system I don’t think would really make sense. While characters were rarely shown gaining new abilities throughout the course of the story, an exception could obviously be made for a video game adaptation.
There’s also the possibility of going the route of something like Life is Strange or a TellTale-style game. The former might even make the most sense, as that series is extremely narrative focused, but still relies on slight supernatural elements. That’s a niche that The Wicked + The Divine also fits into, with its gods largely living a fairly normal existence during their rebirths, aside from their celebrity status during certain recurrences. I think regardless if it were to go the TellTale approach or the Bioware approach, it would be of the utmost importance that the game make the player character feel like they are a part of the story. As an interactive medium, I think it’s really important for games with a focus on their plot and characters, to make the player feel involved.
There are a lot of different directions that adaptations like this can go. The aforementioned TellTale has certainly demonstrated that you can take a graphic novel and create an entirely new story based around the established lore. And Bioware, through The Old Republic, has shown that you can take pre-existing lore and make a pretty expansive RPG around it. Either one of these approaches, I believe, would work well for The Wicked + The Divine. Whether any kind of adaptation of the series comes to pass, it remains an extremely intelligent story that deserves more recognition.