Somehow, the world, or at least the city you are in, has had its inhabitants slaughtered and resurrected with a hunger for brains
, or their murderers have minions trying to find you and any accomplices. Your goal: Don't die before help arrives or before you reach an exit. You will have close escapes from horrible creatures. Things will jump through windows at you. Sometimes, you will be forced to fight the horrible creatures or flee for your life.
Not unlike Post Modernism
, modern Survival Horror
isn't really a clear-cut genre in itself; it exists more as a blurred subset of Horror
and First-Person Shooter
or Third-Person Shooter
. Older games or installments of long running series are closer to adventure games in gameplay, with much less focus on combat and more on puzzles. It requires you to figure out how to survive the onslaught and the related puzzles, and escape usually comes after you stop the source of the problem or secure an escape route. It should be noted that, unlike shooter games, there is no penalty for not killing non-boss enemies — indeed, in some games ammo is in such short supply that evasion
, not confrontation, is the best tactic, similar to Stealth Based Games
. This is usually compounded by having the protagonist be an Action Survivor
or Non-Action Guy
who is poor at combat, rather than a Badass
Note that simply featuring large amounts of monsters, zombies and/or demons does not make it survival horror;
even if the game has supernatural elements, or scares you in some way, it may not be a survival horror game
. Even though Portal
has Chell fighting for her life against a scary adversary without a real gun, it is most definitely not a survival horror title.
There's some debate as to what truly makes a game survival horror. Some claim that any sufficiently scary counts, while purists often believe that it must have a heavy focus on resource management
to qualify, believing that providing too many resources, no resources, or otherwise sidelining it disqualifies a game. As a rule of thumb, a game typically labeleled Action Horror is not Survival Horror. This includes games such as Resident Evil 4
, which, despite keeping the tense atmosphere of the previous games, has the player sitting on a pile of ammo and supplies by comparison, making it a different genre to its Ur Example
predecessors. In order to minimize confusion, try looking at the protagonist's despair; if the protagonist is oppressed and their major issues seem too petty for action games (extreme scarcity of ammunition & supplies, very tough enemies regardless of difficulty, enormous objectives, etc.), then you may be looking at survival horror.
Examples of Survival Horror games: Metro 2033
, Silent Hill
; overwhelmed protagonist(s), oppressive atmosphere and a need for careful management of resources (ammo, health, etc.).
Examples of non Survival Horror games: Halo
, Half-Life 2
, Resident Evil 4
, Left 4 Dead
and so on; despite grim prospects and scary content, just about any fight can be won at a gain and there is always enough ammo and supplies on hand to win most scenarios.
We also have advice
if you want to Write A Survival Horror Game
Survival Horror Games:
Action Horror games with Survival Horror elements:
- The later Resident Evil titles qualify as this, as Resident Evil 4 gives the player ludicrous amounts of supplies by comparison, Resident Evil 5 takes it further by granting the player an A.I. partner to help them.
- In Resident Evil 6 multiple character campaigns are available, each with different horror sub-genres: Chris' campaign is basically a straight up 3rd person shooter, although ammo management is important; Jake's campaign seems to focus on set-piece encounters interspersed with short areas with few enemies and a lot of resources to be used for the next encounter; and Leon's campaign is probably the closest to Survival Horror, as it holds a greater emphasis on the horror aspects with limited resources and long stretches without enemies (though it's only until about the middle, and even then it's still more like Dead Space than the earlier Resident Evil games).
- Splatter House
- Eternal Darkness often gets listed with survival horror titles for the sake of convenience but really is not. Your problems are simultaneously on a larger and smaller scale than your personal survival.
- Minecraft is usually a sandbox game, but turns to Survival Horror during the night, when the hostile mobs spawn. Without a bed in which to skip to dawn, you will have to spend all night dodging archer skeletons, zombies, spiders, creepers, and Endermen, tall, elongated, black humanoid figures with purple eyes who can teleport, and if you look directly at them, they will attack you, and probably kill you, since they're some of the strongest monsters in the Overworld.
- Fallout: New Vegas has elements of this with the optional hard core mode, which adds heavy survival element such as weight to ammo, hydration, sleep, etc. giving you more to worry about than most Survival Horror games. However, there isn't much horror in the game, except for DLCs such as Dead Money, which is packed with enough horror to qualify and takes away all your previous items and gives you next to nothing in return.
- The X-COM games and their spinoffs carry Survival Horror elements into a strategy game, requiring you to keep soldiers alive (generally) and manage your faction's strategic resources (budget, ordnance, research, approval ratings, etc.) in order to fend off humanity's extermination or enslavement at the hands of an Alien Invasion.
- Baroque is described as an attempt to create a Survival Horror Roguelike game. It did have survival horror elements, but other than that, it's not.
- Koudelka, the prequel to the RPG series Shadow Hearts, has many elements of a survival horror game. But it has RPG random battles, equipment, and level system.
- The Stomping Land focuses more on Rule of Cool than horror elements, but attempting to forage for resources in the forest at night is still an adrenaline-pumping experience.