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The Thing's video game is the movie sequel that we never got

"I know I'm human..."

Last year was the 40th anniversary of John Carpenter's The Thing. Despite being released in 1982, this alien invasion movie of psychotic paranoia still holds up to this day, due to its unnerving story and near timeless practical effects.

Strangely, despite its success and cult-like status - and despite an intriguing prequel in 2011 - The Thing never received a proper sequel. Or did it? In 2002, Computer Artworks released a video game based on The Thing that continued the story where the film left off. It's not considered canon, but that doesn't stop it from being a fascinating artefact in its own right.

Computer Artworks' The Thing begins with the player at an abandoned Antarctic outpost, not long after MacReady shares that drink with Childs. In the game, you play as Captain Blake, who seems to be oddly unphased by the destruction of the Outpost, the missing crew and that gigantic flying saucer hidden beneath the snow.

The Thing: Movies don't get much better than this.Watch on YouTube

Blake soon makes way to another nearby outpost, only to discover things aren't much better here either. Crew members are missing, and the few that remain are especially paranoid and flame-thrower happy.

This sets up the classic vibe of The Thing wonderfully. You arrive at an abandoned outpost knowing very little with only a few paranoid crew members remaining, traumatised by a blood-thirsty, alien parasite invader and suspicious of one another.

What follows is a third-person action game, but one with some interesting wrinkles. To survive The Thing, maintaining the trust of the surviving crew is key. As Blake, you'll have to gain this trust by killing the aliens that roam the base as well as supplying the crew with weapons and ammo. In turn, you have to trust the crew in return and hope that they'll have your back as you have theirs.

The Thing
The thing - outside
The Thing - gunfire
The Thing - flamethrower
It remains a very atmospheric game.

Unfortunately, as this is The Thing, you could be handing weapons to the enemy - an alien enemy that can create convincing imitations of crew-members. You might not know which crew members are consumed by the alien until it's too late. But then, if your crew fear that you're the alien entity, they will kill you and your colleagues in a heartbeat.

The Thing implemented an in-game metre that would represent an NPC's level of paranoia. Your actions cause this metre to go up and down, turning the mechanic into its own mini-game of sorts. Micromanaging and second-guessing your crew in the hope that they won't turn on you and the other NPCs in your crew is a fraught business, even if the game is relatively simplistic in this regard.

But remember, this was 2002: this element of trust-management was something that many of us had never experienced in a video game before. It made your squad members more than just NPCs. Sure, some of the looped dialogue might infuriate you to the point an NPC might 'accidentally' be killed (something I would never do, obviously). However, for the most part, you did what you could to keep your crew alive. Even if that might come back to haunt you a little later on.

At its heart, The Thing is an action-horror game. But yet, it feels much more than that. It made you think about the little computer people you were trapped in its world alongside. And doesn't that sound like an opportunity for today? In an era of socially devious multiplayer games, no franchise is more suited to an update than The Thing. Playing with friends, consumed by paranoia, knowing that one of them or even you could be the Thing? It's a beautiful nightmare. Surely the time has come? After all, The Thing was a thing long before Among Us was a thing.

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