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Explorer Horror

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Explorer Horror games are a unique subgenre of horror games most often made in RPG Maker that are notable for how different they are from other Horror Video Games.

Explorer Horror games are actually fairly closer to Adventure Games, typically favoring exploration and puzzle-solving. Often, any enemies you may encounter cannot be defeated, only fled from. Any bosses will thus likely be of the Advancing Boss of Doom variety. While a few Explorer Horror games do have combat, it is never the focus of the game.


What sets this subgenre apart from traditional horror games is its oppressive, isolated atmosphere. Each game typically only features a single character, the protagonist, alone in some dark, depressing world, ranging from Haunted Houses to full-on Eldritch Locations, sometimes with a few side characters tagging along. Stories are usually minimalist, with some spoken dialogue, but relying more on visual storytelling and symbolism. In addition, these games will often make use of surrealist imagery, in place of explicit gore and violence.

As for mechanics, while there may be some overlap with Survival Horror, such as having to avoid enemies and traps, most Explorer Horror games rarely feature direct combat in any form. The player may be able to fight back, but only in certain, pre-determined parts of the game. Collectibles are always puzzle-related, never survival-related (e.g. medkits and ammunition). In some Explorer Horror games, the player won't encounter any physical threats at all. The horror comes not from any physical danger, but the psychological impact of the situation. The objective of an Explorer Horror game is usually to solve puzzles and/or collect a certain amount of an object that can be found scattered around the game world. These objects will then open the path to the end of the game. What the objects are, and how much relevance to the plot they actually have, varies from game to game, ranging from simple keys that open locked doors to pieces of a MacGuffin.


Visually, these games are always made in a pixel art style with a Three Quarters View. The pixel art contributes to the minimalism, and the overhead view helps the oppressive atmosphere.

Games in this genre are largely, if not exclusively, made in the RPG Maker engine or similar programs such as Wolf RPG Editor. Many elements of the style might actually be born from the limitations of RPG Maker; The Three Quarters View pixel art style is really the only type of graphics that are supported, and the objective of collecting things and the lack of enemies could be because RPG Maker only supports menu-based combat.

Compare the Environmental Narrative Game, a similar genre of video games that is also focused on atmospheric storytelling, but not made in RPG Maker or exclusively of the horror genre.