Gravity is one of the best horror films of 2013. It features no supernatural element, no deranged killer; no bad guy in any traditional sense. But despite--and because of--that, it’s horror through and through. It trades on isolation, random and indefensible attacks, and a spiraling loss of control, and forces a broken, completely unprepared protagonist to draw on every personal reserve she has in a desperate bid to survive. Its setting and scenario might be a far cry from haunted houses and government experiments gone awry, but in terms of the techniques and themes at play, it is every bit a horror film. The fact that its ‘antagonist’ is the cold, relentlessly uncaring, completely unrelatable environment rather than any sort of sentient being, makes it all the scarier.
With any situation, real or otherwise, now able to be convincingly simulated in a video game, the next wave of horror games should start looking to less traditional scenarios for its scares. It’s entirely possible to keep the essence of what makes horror work while branching out into entirely new pastures of presentation. Yes, a game that presents environmental danger as relentlessly as Gravity would find it hard to keep up the pace over the course of a full-length run, but fortunately there’s a modern gaming solution to that too, which is coming right up.