I love television. I’ve written about this before when breaking down WandaVision’s expert use of sitcom tropes – I don’t watch that much these days, but I love television as an art form. While I might not be as up on all the hottest shows currently on TV, I’ve seen a lot of classic television and I know my TV history. If I was ever going to construct a nightmare world from my own imagination, much like Wanda, I’d probably riff on television. What I’m trying to say is that I have watched a lot of TV shows – but I don’t think many of them would make good video games. Killing Eve though would make a brilliant video game, so much so that I find it insulting that nobody has made one for me yet.
I could talk forever about BoJack Horseman, Mad Men, The X-Files, or The Jetsons, but I don’t think they’d make great video games. Visual novels or point-and-click games, sure, but nothing where it’s something you actually play. It’s not because I love Killing Eve that it should be a video game. It’s not because it’s inspired by them either, in the way Raya and the Last Dragon so clearly borrows from the likes of The Legend of Zelda. Killing Eve is a TV show written to be a TV show, but it approaches its set pieces in ways that games rarely do but would so obviously benefit from. The characters, the aesthetics, the action, and the tension are all so perfectly suited to video games – with the show set to end after its fourth season, I’d love if video games could pick it up and run with it.
In case you’re unaware of what Killing Eve is, it’s a show all about detective Eve Polastri tracking down expert assassin Villanelle. It begins as a straightforward case – catch the bad guy. However, over the course of the series, the two women become intimately entangled in a mutually obsessive love affair that costs Eve her marriage, causes Villanelle to try (and mostly fail) to go straight, and brings death and destruction to everyone around them. It’s intimately violent and violently intimate – it understands the connection between the hero and villain (and the grey area between them) better than any video game I’ve ever played. Eve is obviously the hero, and Villanelle is obviously the villain. Not only is that practically Villanelle’s name, the cop versus the hired killer seems like a very black and white solution.
But the more the story unfolds, the less clear that distinction becomes. We see more of Villanelle’s perspective, but the series is also very keen to avoid making her too sympathetic – to forget that Villanelle is a killer is to not know Villanelle at all. Meanwhile, it gets harder to root for Eve, and you’re never sure if she even wants to succeed – or what success truly means to her. With so many video games still beholden to “go from A to B while shooting baddies,” Killing Eve is a lesson in dramatic tension. The fact the two women often end up as allies working against something else only adds to the drama of it all.
There’s also the unabashed queerness at Killing Eve’s heart. Queerness in games, when it features at all, is often either positioned at the fringes or feels very clunky and unrealistic. Killing Eve’s queerness is searing. The show bounces rapidly from comedy to tragedy, often mixing the two together, and the relationship between Eve and Villanelle is sometimes light, flirtatious, and full of frivolity, and at other times it’s compulsive, twisted, and drenched in blood. This is obviously not a ‘realistic’ lesbian relationship, in that it revolves around the crimes of an assassin, but the characters are so well developed, their queerness so subtle and yet so flagrant that it just makes me feel like games are missing out by not looking to Killing Eve for inspiration, instead of repeatedly mimicking much safer depictions of queer relationships that cut out all of the drama for a cookie cutter snoozefest.
The aesthetics of a Killing Eve game would be off the charts too. The jet setting series flies all around the world, with the action taking place at luxurious mansions, opulent hotels, gritty alleyways, and muddy fields in the middle of nowhere – then there’s the outfits. I am a law abiding citizen, but if I ever got the chance to kidnap Jodie Comer’s stylist, I would take it. Villanelle is how I would dress if I was rich and skinny. Clothes in games are mostly naff, and Killing Eve would tip those scales in a big way.
Also, it would just be really fun. That’s less important to me because lots of games are fun, but it shouldn’t be disregarded. I said Killing Eve isn’t inspired by video games, but it may have taken a smidge from Hitman. Villanelle’s kills are so ridiculously over the top, yet so perfectly choreographed that recreating them for yourself offers endless potential. It’s the characterisation and the queerness for me, but even if that doesn’t interest you, fancy cutting open a pervert’s stomach while dressed as a pig stripper? Yeah, though so. See? We need this game.
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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey
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