What Should I Play if If I Loved: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

We’ve all been there. You loved a show (or a movie, or a book), and then you run out of it. It’s over, on indefinite hiatus, between sequels, or there just aren’t any more seasons on Netflix. All you want is something new to fill it’s place in your heart. And that’s where Volcano Bakemeat can help.
Although most video game adaptations don’t live up to their source material, that won’t stop us. Instead, we’ll attempt to try to find games that capture the spirit of what made the original so special (minor spoilers follow).

The thing you love: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV 1997-2003)

What is it?

Teenage Buffy Summers finds out she’s got a lot more on her plate than cheerleading and classes when she finds out she’s the Slayer, the one woman out of her generation to fight the vampires and forces of evil. Metaphors, witty banter, and genuine feelings abound in her supernatural fight to save the world a lot.

What we loved about it

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Lady fights monsters

There’s something uniquely satisfying about watching a pretty blonde teenager take on the forces of darkness. Without her destiny, people might not expect anything more from Buffy than her good looks and upbeat attitude. Instead, we get to watch her be one of the most clever, strong, funny and emotionally complex characters on television, in the nineties or since.

What you should play

Eternal Darkness. Eternal Darkness’s heroine was obviously based on Buffy. With blonde hair pulled into a ponytail and a black tank top, Alex Roivas was about as close to Sarah Michelle Geller in the Gamecube era without getting sued. She also shares Buffy’s weighty destiny of monster fighting (in this case, it was a family trade) and her skill in straight up stabbifying the undead. Although you don’t spend the entire game as Alex (a lot of the game is spent playing as monster fighters from the past) but watching her grow over the course of the game is almost as satisfying as Buffy grow from a hip wannabe cheerleader to an esteemed hero and leader.

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Witty banter

Buffy the Vampire Slayer made Joss Whedon’s name as a master of the witty banter. Whether you loved it in Firefly, Cabin in the Woods, or the Marvel movies, you’ll recognize its DNA throughout this show. The show knew just the right moment to cut the tension of a terrifying monster with a laugh, and the quality of the jokes kept many viewers coming back.

What you should play

The Sam and Max series. It’s hard to find a perfect match for Buffy’s humor, but this early Telltale title might be the best fit. If you want smart, rapid fire jokes built off of a strong character dynamic, this bunny dog PI duo is probably your best bet.

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Xander

While most of the characters on the show either started or ended up as beings of great power (slayer, demon, witch, homunculus, prophet), Xander’s unique in that, through the whole series, he’s just a guy with a good sense of humor who’s willing to help. He might be a slacker with a bad home life and some commitment issues, but his ability to jump in when he reasonably should be in way over his head makes him one of the best characters in a strong cast.

What you should play

Viewtiful Joe. Did you say “helpful slacker with a heart of gold who isn’t the best boyfriend?” I’m pretty sure Joe and Xander would be best friends. Sure, Xander might be jealous that Joe got movie-related super powers after jumping through a film screen, but Joe might be just as fascinated hearing Xander talk about the time he accidentally wore the wrong Halloween costume and turned into a soldier for a few hours. Then both of them would spend the afternoon doing nothing.

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Horror

Buffy is straight up scary sometimes. For every wacky curse episode (Oh no! Everyone turned into their Halloween costumes! Oh no! The adults are acting like teenagers!) there’s something legitimately creepy. Whether it’s the town’s voices being stolen so no one can scream for help when the Gentlemen arrive in “Hush”, or one of Buffy’s closest confidants turning into a sadistic stalker in “Passion,” the show could get dark.

What you should play

Limbo. If you miss the creepy feeling on the back of your neck when all your hairs stand on end, the strange, sad, dark Limbo might be up your alley. In this 2D platformer, you play as a solitary boy, trying to find his sister in a world that threatens both his body and mind. Travelling through a silent, black and white world, the game never shies away from the horror of a world where bear traps and corpses must be used as tools to solve puzzles along with more traditional carts and boxes, but it amplifies that fear by treating its own darkness with a quiet acceptance instead of an in-your-face gorefest.

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Buffy and Angel

One of the most memorable aspects of the show (especially if you loved angst) was the romance between Buffy the slayer and Angel, a vampire with a soul. The soul was part of a curse, he would have to be wracked by the grief of the people he’d eaten, but if he ever experienced a moment of pure happiness, the soul be taken back and he’d be a monster again. Angel was weighed down, both by the knowledge of his former sins, but also by the fear of becoming that kind of beast again. At the same time, he was one of Buffy’s best assets in battle. He had all the supernatural might of her foes, but also the driving desire to try to make up for the red left in his ledger.

What you should play

The Wolf Among Us. Although TellTale’s Fables’ game focuses on Sheriff Bigby Wolf (a.k.a. the Big Bad Wolf), his relationship with Snow White (the assistant to the deputy mayor in job title and deputy mayor in responsibilities) is one of the most important parts of the game. Although it isn’t overplayed, it’s clear that he loves her but he can’t be the good man she deserves, both because of the beast he was, but also the beast he needs to be to keep her and Fabletown safe. There’s a lot of fantastic noir elements that have nothing to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but more important to this article is the way the game lets you explore Fable’s dark world through a good man who’s still a beast inside.

Honorable Mention

There were actually some Buffy the Vampire Slayer tie in games. Although I’ve never played them, a quick search of reviews suggests they ranged from decent to flat-out bad. But if you want an official tie-in, they exist.
Since I posted this, a lot of people have mentioned a fondness for Chaos Bleeds, so that’s probably a good one to try.
What do you play when you miss Buffy? Leave a comment.

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