Image by Maxwell Grayson
A friend of mine known as “Valkyira” asked a very valid question. Can I give my opinion on Survival Horror games and why they seem to be on the way out?
“Valkyira” brings up a good point. Survival Horror games….Let me rephrase that.. TRUE Survival Horror games are on the decline and have been for a few years.
Good Horror Survival games are hard to come by and always have outside of Japan. In Japan Survival Horror are like shooters to the US or UK. If I remember correctly it’s something like 80% of Horror games never make it out of Japan because they simply don’t sell. Horror games have never had a huge market outside of Japan.
We are seeing fewer and fewer true Survival Horror games such as the original Silent Hill or Resident Evil. Clock Tower has always been a favorite among Survival Horror fans as well. I love these games because they scare the crap out of me and have phenomenal storytelling. Now the story to the Dead Space trilogy to me is very dark and twisted, however it stands nowhere near the classics. It does have it’s own merit in the new age, but the classics will always outshine. That being said, Survival Horror games today are on the decline because instead of following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they take the base concepts, and add a modern shooter feel in lieu of the traditional open world RPG feel. In my opinion, that’s the true downfall of Survival Horror.
You are no longer surviving in an open world like Silent Hill, You are now a trained soldier on a set course to the end goal. No more updating maps, no more FINDING maps. No more enemies that chase you through the map, no more attempts at escaping when out of ammo. Now you stay and fight until you die or win because it’s the only way forward. You are no longer allowed to try and trick your enemy into a large circle so you can escape to your goal, followed by the threat of that enemy waiting for you when you leave. Enemies are now standard and scripted enemies, instead of acting like the ruthless hunters that they used to be.
In my opinion, Dead Space is the only game in recent years that uses ruthless-type enemies, you cut off a leg? Well tough, they hop at you, take two they use their arms. Shoot off the head, another comes out of their chest. They do not stop until you cause massive trauma to their entire body. Cut off the limbs to stop them. They crawl through vents and actually play dead.
Again, this is why Dead Space has it’s own merit in the top listings of MODERN Survival Horror only. Because of it’s story and it’s enemies. While the shooter aspect makes it fun, it’s hard Survival. Same with the new Resident Evil games. I still love them to death, because they evolved like they had to. They did a proper virus evolution and people crucified them for it but if they had stayed the same, people wouldn’t play it because it’s “just the same recycled garbage.” Capcom used their best judgment and while Resident Evil 5 was NOT Survival Horror, it was Action Horror, it was still a proper virus evolution. Same with Resident Evil 6, However I will say that Leon’s campaign added the Resident Evil 4 feel back to the game.
The evolution of gaming is doing away with Survival Horror because gamers just want action and shooting. I think 2013 will start to make a comeback on Survival Horror, or at very least keep the Action Horror genre alive, if not the Psychological Horror (sub-genre of Survival in my opinion).
It will be a sad day in the world of video games when Survival Horror dies out, but for those days, we always have a $20 PS2 or a $5 PS1, even a $15 DreamCast, so we can always go back and play the classics. You can also pick up some classics in HD collections, such as Silent Hill 2 & 3 or the entire Doom series.