There was a time back in the 1990s, and even in the early 2000s, when video games often used live action movies to make games. Or, as the industry referred to them, Full Motion Video games. You see, computer technology was not good enough yet to make convincing animated movies, but with the invention of the CD-ROM drive, storage space was more accessible than it had ever been. So, game developers being an inventive bunch, this gave rise to a period of games, often terrible games, that relied on actors and largely amateur movies to give players an interesting video game experience.
Some of the games were truly awful, with shockingly poor acting, disastrous directing, and dialogue so poor it made high school productions look Oscar-worthy. And, for the most part, these tend to be the FMV games that are remembered. But what seems to be forgotten is the FMV games that were actually pretty good. not as good as real money blackjack, but close, and certainly worth checking out.
Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within
Perhaps one of the best FMV games, and most fondly remembered, is Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within. Yes, in hindsight the quality of the movies are extremely poor, to such an extent that it could make the eyes of a modern HD viewer bleed. But, back in the day this was the height of video game technology, and a true marvel.
The Gabriel Knight series was, overall, well loved, staring the titular paranormal detective, Gabriel Knight. In the first game, Knight had been a pixelated character, as with all adventure games at that time. But The Beast Within had actors playing the parts, and Gabriel Knight became a real person. It absolutely blew minds back in 1995. The story is still great, and acting not bad, even many years later, making The Beat Within and FMV game that has, for the most part, stood the test of time. You will likely need a walk-through, however, as old adventure games were notoriously difficult to finish.
Released the same year as Gabriel Knight, and equally as well received at the time, Phantasmagoria was a much more adult FMV game. Featuring a dark, often disturbing theme, as well as being extremely raunchy for 1995, Phantasmagoria is still an interesting video game experience.
Phantasmagoria had a follow-up the following year, in 1996, which stepped up the horror elements. Both games are great, and although having typical FMV era bad acting, are certainly worth a playthrough.
Tex Murphy Series
The Tex Murphy series was predominantly FMV, and perhaps the most well known of all FMV games. Being comedic, often silly, and featuring a bumbling, wisecracking detective in a future setting, the games can perhaps be thought of as a goofy version of the Blade Runner film.
In hindsight the games are perhaps too goofy and odd for some modern gamers, but those interested will certainly find a few laughs. Even if at how absurdly silly the acting is in some parts of the games.