Skip to main content
Ages 13+
Under 13
shadowy street with trees and van that is from a video game

Stalker, the Unlikely Video Game That Converses with Andrei Tarkovsky


The imaginary sites where wishes come true can be dangerous and disturbingly entertaining.

Of all the fascinating and strange oeuvre of Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker (1979) seems an unlikely candidate to be turned into a video game (but then, if someone already dared to turn Joyce’s Ulysses into one, this falls in place). After all, the history focuses on a mysterious Zone where wishes come true and there is little action, bearing in mind that the philosophical dialogs and the musings on existence take up most of the scenes.

The mysterious lands where unconscious dreams become reality (Peter Pan and Wendy’s Neverland or Oz in The Wizard of Oz) are no strangers to cinema and literature; however, Tarkovsky’s vision is original given that (spoiler alert!) the guide that takes the main characters to the Zone, the Stalker, maintains an animated and intriguing philosophical conversation with them but without either of the clients (a writer and a scientist) eventually making a wish.

The making of the wish is what makes Tarkovsky’s version of Stalker, based on Arkady and Boris Strugatsky novella, Roadside Picnic, interesting. The videogame of Stalker takes its scenes and action from the dangers of the novella, more than from Tarkovsky’s philosophical meanderings, but without that lessening the importance of the Russian’s masterpiece.

There are not many zombies in Tarkovsky’s film, but the scenery (a kind of post-atomic Chernobyl) is present in the videogame. Like the two faces of a rusty coin, Tarkovsky’s Stalker and the videogame S.T.A.L.K.E.R. are two explorations of the universe of the Strugatsky novella; a place where fervent dreams can become reality, but where the danger of achieving them can cost one their sanity or their life.

Related Articles