The Thing: Remastered 1
Image: Nightdive Studios

2002's The Thing is widely regarded as one of the best horror games based on an existing media franchise. Many licensed horror games are sadly relegated to genres that require a specific setup, such as asymmetrical multiplayer or short VR experiences, but The Thing — a third-person squad-based shooter — dared to go one step further, telling its own unique story that serves as a proper sequel to John Carpenter's 1982 movie masterpiece.

It's not a game that frequents mainstream remaster wishlists, but Nightdive Studios is nevertheless delivering what few of us realised we wanted with The Thing: Remastered. Announced during IGN Live and scheduled to land on the Switch later this year, Computer Artworks' original is getting the full revamp treatment, with updated visuals, improved lighting, numerous quality-of-life tweaks, and more.

To find out a bit more about the project, we spoke with Larry Kuperman (Director of Business Development) and Stephen Kick (Studio Director) at Nightdive Studios. They discuss what led the decision to revisit The Thing, what Switch fans can expect from the game's performance, and which horror films the team thinks would translate well into games...

Nintendo Life: First of all, why The Thing? What made you want to revisit this title?

Larry Kuperman: To start with, we are all fans of the classic movie as well as the game itself. Remember that the game was originally released in 2002; we felt that the game was brilliant, but flawed in the sense that the original developers took it as far as the technology of the time would allow them to go. Now, with modern gaming systems, we have a chance to fulfil their vision.

Stephen Kick: I’ve always been a big horror fan and when the game was released I played it day one. It was the first licensed game that lived up to the legacy set forth by the film and the fact that it was a sequel and officially deemed as canon made it incredibly special. The Thing is a title I’ve wanted to remaster since the inception of Nightdive and I’m honored that we’re getting the opportunity to introduce a new generation of fans to this amazing game.

Nightdive has handled several huge IPs in the past, but The Thing is arguably one of the most revered horror franchises of all time. How did it feel taking the reins with this project?

Larry: I think that “reverence” was exactly the right word. It is both truly exciting and a bit terrifying at the same time.

Stephen: I’ve got Drew Struzan’s legendary Thing poster hanging outside my office. It feels unreal working on the property, but it says a lot about how far Nightdive has come in delivering some of the best remastered experiences. I couldn’t be more proud of what our team has accomplished. My only hope is that fans of both the game and movie love what we’ll deliver.

The original title was published by Vivendi’s Black Label Games on PC and Konami on consoles - was it tricky obtaining the rights to work on this project?

Larry: I can’t comment on the details of the contract, but fans should know that we were working on getting the rights to this game for several years.

How important was it to have Mark Atkinson, one of the original directors, on board to assist? What kind of insight has he provided? Did anyone else from the OG team help out?

Larry: Absolutely! Ron Ashtiani was the first of the OGs to join us on this project, and it was Ron who introduced us to Mark. Both Ron and Mark work directly with our team daily. They have been instrumental in helping us to understand the vision of the original game, by pointing out the things that they would have changed or improved if they had the technology and the time.

Aside from the visuals, can you talk about the other enhancements that have been applied to the game?

Larry: I can’t really go into specifics, both because we want fans to be surprised and also because the game is still in development. But fans should expect significant improvements to the quality of gameplay while staying very true to the original vision. As always, our goal is to give fans a remaster that 'plays the way you remember it' only somewhat better.

Stephen: One thing I’ll mention is the lighting is receiving a massive overhaul. The Thing was a terrifying cinematic experience, and we’re looking closely at the film and how it was lit to imbue the same atmosphere in the game.

What kind of challenges have you faced with this project? Have any difficulties cropped up that you perhaps haven’t encountered with previous games?

Larry: I wouldn’t consider this a “difficulty” but through Ron and Mark we have received an enormous amount of original assets and materials. Some we are using in the game itself. For the remainder, we are trying to decide on the best course for preservation. This is the kind of challenge that it is good to have.

Your games will have great appeal to older audiences who perhaps played the original, but how will you entice new fans with The Thing: Remastered?

Larry: The fan reaction to our announcement of The Thing has been spectacular and has extended well beyond gamers who played the original. Fans of the movie and horror films in general, people who might not otherwise be interested in games, comprise the largest new sector of our audience. Looking at the number of views of the trailer, as well as some other factors, shows us that this title will have mainstream appeal.

We know you’re targeting 4K resolution and 144fps performance, but what can you tell us about the Switch version specifically? Will performance match that of previous releases like PO’ed and Dark Forces?

Larry: Yes, The Thing will have all of the performance enhancements that fans have come to expect from Nightdive titles. Switch will also receive Gyro aiming.

Many Nightdive games feature options to allow for a more ‘retro’ look that might appeal to fans of the original title. Is this the case with The Thing?

Stephen: With this specific title due to the complexity of the assets there won’t be an option to switch back and forth between original and remastered visuals.

Finally, do you have any well-loved horror movies or TV shows that you think would translate well to video games?

Stephen: I would personally love to see the film Mandy adapted into a game, but as a sequel in the same way The Thing game was adapted. Something about controlling Nicolas Cage in third person as he fights demons and new-age cultists with chainsaws and that giant axe gets me excited.

I’d also like to see Annihilation get some kind of adaptation - it’s basically a modern take on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space, but it's more suited for a game. Play as a squad of explorers with different disciplines thrust into an ever-changing, evolving environment full of wonder and horror. Coincidentally there was a movie adaption of the original story that stars Nicolas Cage, so one way or another we’re getting Nick Cage in a horror game!

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Thanks to Larry and Stephen at Nightdive Studios for taking the time to answer our questions, and to ÜberStrategist PR for helping to set it up. The Thing: Remastered will launch on the Switch eShop later this year.