A video game concept mashing up elements from films like Gravity, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Sunshine.
I saw the film Gravity last Sunday at IMAX with a friend. I won’t spend a huge chunk of this article reviewing the film but I will say that it was an amazing experience. The story is pretty simple and nothing mind bending. Some of you might be expecting the latter like myself. I was a bit disappointed, but it was outstanding overall.
While watching the film, I kept thinking about how this film would be a great video game to play during certain scenes. I’m not talking about a direct video game adaptation. We all know how crappy that usually turns out.
I previously wrote an article about how some elements from the recent film World War Z could inspire a fresh kind of zombie video game. Well, I’m trying to do something similar with Gravity.
In addition, Danny Boyle’s film Sunshine also came to mind as I tossed this concept around in my head. What would be the result if you mashed these two together? A pretty epic video game if you ask me.
The first instance ‘video games’ came up in my head was when the film employed the use of the first person perspective. It certainly reminded me of playing games like BioShock: Infinite and Far Cry 3.
Whenever the film shifted into showcasing visually stunning scenes of space, it also made me think about how much I wished that there was a video game that would focus on the mysterious beauty of space itself instead of being limited to just a ship or a space colony.
Video games have so much potential to give space justice through the power of modern PC and next-generation hardware. I’m sure it’s not entirely impossible to create stunning cinematic shots of space in-game similar to the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gravity. We are also at a point wherein the line between video game and film is gradually starting to delineate with titles like Beyond: Two Souls or Gone Home.
The Mass Effect series boasts a compelling cast of characters and an intricate lore in a galactic setting. Dead Space gripped us with the atmospheric and gruesome horror we’ve longed for since Alien. At the end of the day though, they are mostly action games wherein you rip through waves of enemies.
Give me a game where your only foe is space itself like in Gravity instead of having a battalion of space troops or creepy aliens to fight. Instead, you’re combating time to save oxygen or incoming space debris headed your way. If something goes wrong in space, there’s no one to rescue you. You can’t just go back to Earth to get everything fixed. Since I don’t want to spoil Gravity, let me just show this cool clip from Sunshine to show some of the dangers you may face by simply being in space:
You don’t have to watch this, but seriously watch Sunshine if you haven’t.
This is assuming that the timeline is set somewhere in the not too distant future wherein humanity is still fresh from discovering travel. I think this is a lot better than having it set in a distant future because the stakes are much higher when we are still vulnerable and clueless to what’s truly other.
The entirety wouldn’t simply be just your character floating around aimlessly though. In one part of the film, Bullock makes her way inside a space station with zero-gravity through a first person perspective. She passes a damaged area of the station that’s flickering with fire. Instead of it bursting into roaring flames, bits of the fire float away in a teardrop like shape. Small details that make a huge difference in adding realism to a scene.
Although man vs. self/nature can make a narrative interesting enough, I wouldn’t be opposed to having a singular foe regardless if it is human, an alien, or A.I. It could be like HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey wherein the A.I gradually kills the ship’s crew, or a situation wherein one of the crew members goes psycho because of the psychological stresses of the mission. Perhaps, the game makes you speculate either of these until it builds up in the very end.
You might think that I am backtracking on what I said about combat. However, this is different if you’re dealing with a singular foe. You can watch and interact with your enemy even before he/she/it becomes a threat. It is a gradual process that you witness, and it gives dimension and weight to your foe. In the end, it makes everything more meaningful in the end even if it meant facing just one adversary.
Consequently, I want a game that primarily aims to tell a story and convey a theme. 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gravity featured shots and sequences that embodied their film’s theme. The directors used these tools in addition to writing and soundtrack to move the narrative.
There’s no doubt that Mass Effect had its share of philosophical themes, but that took a backseat while action came first. Therefore, the only developer I can think of who can pull of something like this would have to be David Cage and his team at Quantic Dream. Almost everything I mentioned in this article is an aspect they excel in.
Here’s to hoping that their rumored next-gen title Singularity turns out to be the space game I’ve always been wanting.