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‘You are dead’: the death of Survival Horror

Saturday, 6th October 2012 11:28 GMT By Dave Cook

Survival Horror appears to be stuck in a rut. VG247′s Dave Cook asks if the genre has turned into a husk, or if our expectations have merely shifted.

It all started back in 1996 with a big glass window, a pair of zombified Dobermans, and a near-fatal heart attack. You remember the scene in the first Resident Evil right? It’s the one where you walk down the mansion corridor and a pair of dogs bursts though the window unexpectedly.

Now, you probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a scene like that today, but back then, no console developer had ever delivered such a startling set piece before – well, not that I can recall anyway – and for me, that was the moment Survival Horror was truly born.

It was a true masterclass in set-piece design that is so bloody simple when you think about it, yet no one else was doing it back then – with the exception of Alone in the Dark of course. (I haven’t forgotten about you, PC fans).

“Everyone has their own perception of fear, so you’re never going to find an experience – be it a game, novel or movie – that seems scary to everyone who consumes it.”

Today it’s all about bombast, shouting soldiers and an endless barrage of gunfire that hurts my head just thinking about it. The original Resident Evil was more powerful for being muted and subtle, rather than the in-your-face attempts at horror I see on a yearly basis.

What makes a game scary? Is it those classic jump out your seat moments that pierce through stretches of eerie silence when you least expect it? Perhaps it’s a feeling of sheer vulnerability, and being painfully under-resourced against enemies you don’t quite understand?

Or maybe it’s a sustained sense of dread and menace that scratches at the mind like nails down a chalkboard? All of these methods of creating suspense and shocking people have been employed in games before, but those days feel like a distant memory.

Everyone has their own perception of fear, so you’re never going to find an experience – be it a game, novel or movie – that seems scary to everyone who consumes it. But there is growing concern among gamers that the horror genre at large has fallen on hard times.

Resident Evil 6 just came out to mixed reviews. Some slated the game for failing to recapture the glory days of the franchise, and for pandering to the Call of Duty generation. Others appreciated the shift in tone and applauded Capcom’s attempts to modernise the series.

It’s a tricky genre to master because everything that made it so endearing back in the mid-’90s now goes so strongly against everything we know about slick triple-a titles today. Sadly, publishers today want what’s in and relevant, not dusty and old. To them your nostalgia is getting in the way of progress.

“It a feeling of tension that felt so exciting and fresh back in 1996, so why – with all of our technical resources, ties to the film industry and hardware clout – can’t developers recapture that vibe today?”

Think back to the first Resident Evil. The acting made Scary Movie look like high art, the tank controls were god awful, and the shooting mechanic now feels horrid by today’s standards.

But it worked. The inability to turn tail and flee like some lubricated athlete meant you were trudging slowly and clumsily around zombies and other creatures. You felt weak and exposed to their grabbing hands, and gnashing teeth.

It worked, and the shit acting just lent the game a cool B-movie vibe that stands up today. I mean, ‘Jill sandwich?’ Come on, don’t tell me you aren’t at least hearing Barry Burton saying it in your mind as you read this.

Then of course you had a cripplingly low supply of ammo, limited inventory space and a finite assortment of green herbs to heal your wounds. Everything was against you, and you were constantly on the backfoot.

It a feeling of tension that felt so exciting and fresh back in 1996, so why – with all of our technical resources, ties to the film industry and hardware clout – can’t developers recapture that vibe today?

Today huge firepower, almost infinite ammo, slick controls and Hollywood-grade acting are the true desires of many publishers. They genuinely feel that this is what you want, and anything less than that is seen a potential recipe for failure.

It’s funny though, because Survival Horror was – in the eyes of many gamers – birthed by the original Clock Tower, or Alone in the Dark, which was of course, a PC title. While console developers repeatedly drop the ball when making new horror games, the PC market is making it flourish again.

Take Amnesia: The Dark Descent for example. It’s brutal, uncompromising, scary as all hell, and yes, you feel like a weak baby as you stumble through the dark halls of the game’s labyrinthine castle. It’s awesome, and if you like horror you need to try it out.

Slow and clunky, weak and vulnerable, under-resourced and restricted. Can you think of any new console games that actively promote these values besides obvious titles like Dark Souls?

“We’ll see it come around on consoles again I’m sure, we just have to wait until Resident Evil 4 director Shinji Mikami brings out his new horror game, before everyone else remembers how it’s done properly.”

It’s because these are all negative words in an industry that promises you the ultimate power trip. It’s this idea that we all want to self-indulge in some sort of power fantasy, and be the ultimate badass, rather than a weakling at odds with the world.

But that is what makes Survival Horror games scary, among other things. Sometimes I want trudge clumsily around Silent Hill armed with just a plank of wood and a shite flashlight, while fighting against some mutated flesh beast twice my size.

Make my character some sort of walking hard-on superhero with a belt-fed M60 and all of a sudden I don’t feel threatened by the darkness or the unidentifiable horrors lurking in the shadows. Why would I if I can just shoot them to bits?

So is Survival Horror dead? Nah not at all, it’s just that the console side is in a state of flux right now thanks to the pressures of money, design by committee and sale pressure.

The PC market with its indie sensibilities has more license to tinker with the genre, and there are ace horror games in that space if you want them, especially games like DayZ that try new things with the format.

We’ll see it come around on consoles again I’m sure, we just have to wait until Resident Evil 4 director Shinji Mikami brings out his new horror game to remind console devs of how it’s done properly.

It helps that Mikami is actively making this game to address the weakened state of the genre, so it’ll be interesting to see how the project turns out.

Come on Shinji, we’re counting on you. Make us learn to fear again.

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58 Comments

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  1. Dovtutis

    Many dont talk about Deadly Premonition, for me that game is maybe the best horror game from RE:Code Veronica, it made same feelings like Resident Evil 1996, same fear, same gaming experience. Technicaly its terrible game, but like horror game it one of the best.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 ah yes, bloody hell how could I forget Deadly Premonition? I got on that train late after the initial buzz died down, but yeah I really like it.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. unacomn

    The genre is still alive and kicking, it’s just that people confuse mediocre at best action games with survival horror, mostly because they’re sold and marketed that way.

    Also, it started with Resident Evil? Man, the only way I can make sense of that is if you blocked Clock Tower out of your memory, which is understandable, since it was bloody terrifying and it still is. Zombie dobermans? Try a guy with a gigantic pair of scissors trying to cut your head off, that’s about on par with the Terminator in terms of persistence.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @3 Yeah Clock Tower is mad dude, and Scissorman is freaky as hell, but I think the consensus is that Resident Evil brought the genre to the attention of the masses. For them the game birthed it.

    But still, how cool would a current or next-gen Clock Tower be? :D

    I’ve actually added Clock Tower in there as I think you’re right. Good call.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Dovtutis

    I also think that Dino Crisis should be in Resident Evil place, it would fit perfectly, that action, mechanics, graphics, all these things fits 100%. Resident Evil way of progress isn’t correct.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. unacomn

    If done well, probably “pants need changing” level of coolness. It is owned by Capcom though, and they haven’t been heavy on the spine tingling terror lately.

    I’d settle for a spiritual successor, if it was made by someone like Frictional Games.

    Going to replay it again for a horror month special, I doubt I can handle playing it at night. Had the bright idea of doing research for a piece on horror in gaming, so I played it, The Uninvited, Alone in the Dark, and a bunch of other stuff, couldn’t sleep for week without jumping at every creek and crackle.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. absolutezero

    Its not just Survival Horror thats dead in the current generation, its the entire field of Middle-ware. Games created by a team for a publisher but without the huge budgets of triple A, games that made the PS2 have one of the greatest collections of games ever. Titles for every gamer no matter the taste. Capcom used to be king of middleware.

    Games like Haunting Ground to something like Under the Skin, Glass Rose and Without Warning. Those are the games that made gaming my primary passion as a form of entertainment. Theres nothing like that now, nothing at all. In the places where these games should flourish, PSN, Steam and XBLA are instead dominated by Retro look back games and indie titles.

    Middleware games were never lesser titles than the big budget releases of the time, something like Psi-Ops was just as much of a full title as anything released that generation, only it had a smaller budget and some odd ideas and it ran with it.

    No one wants to ever temper their preconceptions anymore, its either amazing or its trash, theres no longer any middle ground for smaller, odder titles to emerge.

    Killer7 could never have been created for this console cycle. Thats both depressing and sad. The Vita is the perfect home for titles like this because it has the full console control set up ready to go AND it has lesser specs than the full consoles meaning that budgets could be restrained, so far though because its been such a long long time since middleware abounded no one seems to know if theres even an audience anymore.

    Survival Horror specifically was always the gem of middleware, never got that much money, never gained critical acclaim, but it had and still does have a very dedicated fanbase ready to adore anything that actually tries, Amnesia was a massive success for Frictional. Thanks in part to the people that played the Penumbra series and knew what they could do, that passion and word of mouth helped the game get noticed by the youtube community and the game just exploded from there. Frictional knew they would never match the numbers of a CoD or a Battlefield but they still created the best game that they could.

    Survival Horror right now is dead, the last full SH titles this generation were Fatal Frame 4 which never emerged from Japan, the Project Zero 2 remake on the Wii and Siren Blood Curse which was more or less sent out to die, oh and urghgh Amy. Actually now that I think about theres quite a few traditional SH titles floating about, theres Cursed Mountain on the Wii. both Saw titles are terrible but they fit the template. Resident Evil Revelations developed by the legendary ghost Dev Tose was an almost perfect blend of Resident Evil 4/5 with the classic ideals of the older titles. I would love to see that team given more money and let loose but its never going to happen.

    There are many communities on the net ready to buy something if they are only given the chance to do so, if publisher expectations were reigned in just a little I would have my favourite genre returned to me. Silent Hill however is a lost cause, its gone forever, forsaken by Konami.

    EDIT: Just to be a pedantic arse Sweet Home was the first game to have the classic Survival Horror gameplay ideas. Resident Evil was the first to cement them for every series that came after. The first Alone in the Dark was much more about halting progression through trail and error and Clocktower was very much the adventure game.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @7 you know what man, I found Killer7 genuinely unnerving in parts, that could be considered horror in places. I freaking love it but you’re right, the market wouldn’t allow it to exist today, and that is bloody sad.

    And yeah Sweet Home, but it’s so far removed from Resi when you think about it. Some core traits are there, but Resi defined horror for a lot of people. Just wish I could play Sweet Home localised, tried it once, had no idea was going on.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Sini

    All I know is that fatal frame 2 remake on wii earlier this year was great, which was the same game as a decade ago, except with improved eye candy. That solidifies to me that recent brand new survival horror games are utter shit, and not that I got bored of the genre. I still play REmake on dolphin emu too.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. absolutezero

    http://www.rom-world.com/file.php?id=20619

    Then you might like to give it another go! Please try Nanashi No Game aswell if you have the chance, its a DS game from Square thats pretty damn unsettling with a great use of music and upending classic video game conceptions.

    Theres also the fan translation for Fatal Frame 4 (no homebrew or hacking required in order to play the boxed JP edition but if you do have homebrew then you can just play a fully translated game right from the off).

    If people are willing to translate full games by themselves (most of which are horror titles) you’d think that would be an indicator of passion along with all the busy fansites and forums. Eh.

    Oh and Calling on the Wii, thats also rubbish.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Ali

    Nice article Dave.

    Just like how different the horror games were, the reasons they have fallen are also different. We thought that with the advancing tech, those games were only going to be even more scarier but it turned out completely the opposite.

    It is important to really define what was scary back then and for each franchise that successfully established a name for itself, because either those games were really special or we just got tired of being scared.

    When I look at the very first RE, I can’t help but remembering how scared I was when I first saw and encountered the first zombie. That cutscene drove me sleepless for nights and I have never ever touched the games till years later. You can’t blame a 5 years old kid for fearing this
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe6srxp1-9I

    or getting shocked by this :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1tbKqTJxxY

    and can’t blame a 21 years old guy for laughing at how stupid and not scary this scene is
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrNF57Raoys

    The set up for those scenes is quite different. For the older games, the use of dark sounds helped in creating the mood, but was RE really meant to be a horror game ?

    For me, the series did really stop being scary as I grow up and I really started to consider it merely a survival game with Cod Veronica, I am not saying that the game sucked, in its defense, it actually nailed down the basics quite well.

    It was clear that, the series isn’t going nowhere in its attempts to be scary and headed for a more action themed approach with RE4 and that worked pretty well.

    RE4 was a very well thought up game, of good length,memorable moments, decent story and above all an enjoyable experience that isn’t flashy. For me the series didn’t have to be scary, but had to have at least the feeling of survival horror, the feeling of being vulnerable and all of that got lost with RE5 which turned out to be nothing but an arcady themed RE game with very dated gameplay mechanics (Those were gold standard in RE4 times).

    I like many else, anticipated that Capcom would strive to get back to the old days with the 6th one, but they didn’t only stick to what was bad in RE5, they also took the CG movies’ direction resulting in not only bad gameplay mechanics but some of the worst narrative ever.

    The problem with RE isn’t more of a lost identity than poor gameplay mechanics and when you add the crappy narrated story to that, you end up with the infamous mix that is RE6.

    The inclusion of Wesker’s son, Chris’ parts and the endless pops up of Ada Wong serve nothing but being cheaply implemented touches to keep the die hard fan attached, the game seemed more of a fan service than a real sequel to the players out there.

    What Capcom needs to do here is to reboot the series. They need to scratch the characters and head from the very start. They need to scratch all the elements that weren’t really part of the series and that includes the Co-Op, military themes and the unnecessary cinematic approach.

    They need to start taking a more series approach to their mechanics and come up with better made up ones.

    Above all of that, they need to give the series a break, because the more they release of it, the more it gets away from its right direction.

    It is a shame, if there is one thing the Japanese devs can nail better than the others, it is horror genre. It is shameful that they are leaving that for more poor men’s CoDs,Gears and Unchartd.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Dovtutis

    Also the problem of new Resident Evil’s are soundtrack…

    #12 2 years ago
  13. LuLshuck

    Another good read Dave last good horror game i played was dead space 2 but before that it was dead space and before that it was resident evil 4, wy doesnt someone do a kickstarter of a horror game that plays exactly like resident is beyond me

    #13 2 years ago
  14. absolutezero

    Horror games fall into the same trap that Horror movies fall into, do they really need to be scary? Fear can be an odd thing, remember the Eel in Dire Dire Docks? Yeah. Or the Piano.

    Playing a Horror/Scary video game is a case of enjoyable negative emotions, we know that we are in control of what is unfolding on screen and we know we can stop at anytime, the fear comes when its us thats opening that door to see whats beyond. Its no longer the stupid person up on the cinema screen asking “Is anybody there?” to a dark basement. It us moving forward into what we know is potential danger. That the enemies and environments and areas were actually dangerous in these games is what makes a Survival Horror a Survival Horror instead of an action game.

    At no point did I fear opening a box or a door or anything in Dead Space because I was armed to the teeth and expecting jump scares. The atmosphere for the first game is still superb don’t get me wrong and it does a fantastic impression of Resident Evil 4.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Da Man

    Haunting Ground was really scary.. in the same way Rogue Warrior was.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. absolutezero

    Haunting Ground was about panic over and above fear. It also had a strange obsession with placenta. Everyone in that game wanted Fiona’s womb.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Da Man

    Erm.. right.

    So anyway, I agree an excellent example of shovelware, so rampant on PS2.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. absolutezero

    Now that I think about Haunting Ground it gets more and more bizarre. Although they did tone it back somewhat from what the same team created with Clock Tower 3. Acid baths for everyone and little kids getting smashed in the face with giant hammers.

    http://youtu.be/g2Eu2u_cSVs

    Acting!

    #18 2 years ago
  19. hitnrun

    It’s a money game. Other genres have completely melted away into nonexistence – the tactical shooter, for example – because the assets for a company required to make it are just as easily (often more easily) allocated to a related genre that marketing research shows will sell more units. (Whether marketing research is right when you have so many genres filled to saturation is another topic.) Why make a survival horror AAA game when you can make a AAA 3rd person co-op shooter? It’s basically the same game to meet the eye and probably slightly less work and money. At that level of risk/reward, the difference on your return is likely to be literally tens of millions of dollars.

    @7: I may not agree with all the particulars but you more or less nailed it. I think it’s less a matter of artistic will than a lack of money. The publishers with the cash have honed game-making into an economic science, as espoused by Bobby Kotick. The people without cash are largely into retro or do the best they can with 2D neo-retro. (Incidentally, I can’t recommend this book enough, which touches in part on the tragedy of an overemphasis on recycled culture.)

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Da Man

    #18 – Scary

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Christopher Jack

    I liked Dino Crisis, it maintained a great balance between action/adventure & survival/horror. It wasn’t REALLY scarey but it did its job well, it’d have to be my absolute first choice for a reboot or even just a HD remake.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Phoenixblight

    I honestly never thought Resident Evil was survival horror at least in the design. The game gave you ammo of varying types,guns of different types,grenades too. I felt the hardware is what limited Capcom at the time. As the series grew it became more action orientated that was rife with cheap scares.

    I can’t totally disregard Resident Evil horror roots though because without that game we wouldn’t have had Silent Hill.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Da Man

    Dino Crisis was amazing, man.

    Just as good as RE3.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. bpcgos

    SLENDER, why everyone forget about it! Try it guys, its free (can you all imagine it, the only game for nowadays that catch what horror means are FREE, damn it)!

    http://slendergame.com/

    #24 2 years ago
  25. G1GAHURTZ

    Only game I’d ever consider being scary is Half Life 2, when yo go to Ravenholm.

    Zombies, face suckers, screeching alien type things, sticky tentacle traps, darkness, fire, tiny corridors, etc.

    It had the lot.

    The acting really built it up before you even got close to it, as well.

    “We don’t go to Ravenholm…”

    Classic stuff.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. polygem

    we have tons of zombi games now but they mostly are just shooters with dumbed down ai…
    :(

    @7: killer 7 is a fantastic, weird and brutal way…all this presented in that cel shaded look. it´s just awesome. it really is sad that we probably wont see games like this again anytime soon.

    that said, i never found any game really creepy, nor can i recall one that really scared me. this is bad because i do really crave such an experience.

    if franchises/ brands are important these days to sell games – as it seems – where is the great friday the 13th videogame i am waiting for since the 80´s? not a rushed cash in one but a truly creepy old school slasher horror AAA game?

    or a psychological shining game where you have to deal with the stuff that happens in your head?

    these are strong brands/ names. done right they would sell i believe.

    i think in a good and creepy horror game you shouldn´t even shoot much. you should just run and escape, waiting for the single chance to kill that bastard that is chasing you. the more diferent types of enemies you´ll face over and over again, the less creepy it all becomes. you need a faceless killer that is after you and great atmosphere and sound.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. The_Red

    I’m really hoping that The Last of Us turns out to be true Survival horror. Heck, it may end up the Last of Survival Horror.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. Hunam

    The thing I find so funny is that Resident Evil is such a big franchise anyway, that it will sell X number of millions based on the name alone that they could have launched a proper survival horror and still got the big sales numbers.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. dizzygear

    I always liked RE3: Nemesis. Never knowing when that bastard would show up kept me on the edge of my seat until the credits.
    I do remember allot of people hated RE3 when it came out for some reason.

    When it comes to this gen the only console game that i found scary was Corpse Party for the PSP. Sure its crap graphically but that leaves all the more to fill in for the imagination. But i guess its more of a adventure game than a survival horror.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Panipal2005

    @9 Sorry but you’re flat-out wrong about the FF2 Wii-make which didn’t even touch the PS2 original…for one thing they changed up the art style, which had the unfortunate effect of rendering the ghosts (particularly the Kusabi) much less intimidating than their PS2 counterparts.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. DSB

    Friday the 13th for Commodore 64 anyone? I can still hear those digital screams.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. HighWindXIX

    I’m glad you mentioned Dark Souls because I think it is probably the best horror game released in years. The dark environments, the horrific monsters, the fact that anything can kill you if you’re not prepared and the fact that deaths actually take things away from unlike most games with their no consequence constant check points. Put something like Tomb of the Giants in a game marketed as horror with it’s pitch blackness and powerful enemies and people would probably talk about how it was such a scary part of the game.

    I do wish we got more true horror games on consoles though. A Clock Tower remake would be awesome! Someone should make that happen…

    #32 2 years ago
  33. absolutezero

    @poly

    Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth and Eternal Darkness both kinda fit into the psychological horror part of what you are looking for, both of which are both of course from the last generation, to a lesser extent Deadly Premonition is similar aswell from the current one.

    @29

    Sorry but as soon as one of the main characters in Corpse Party asked another for “butt cream” because her “pooper was as dry as a desert.” anything other than hilarity was blasted out the window. Seiko is amazing.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Phoenixblight

    @33

    You clearly haven’t played Amnesia.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. absolutezero

    Amnesia is clearly not what she was asking for though. I’ve also talked about Amnesia in this thread already.

    Theres a fair few horror mods for the PC that I have’nt touched on at all, Afraid of Monsters is far more of a psychological horror than Amnesia ever was. Amnesia is fantastic, actually great but my God is it ever over-rated.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. DSB

    I think Condemned kinda nailed it, even though it was very one-tracked.

    Just the idea of being in a dark place and having to fight violent psychotic junkies using your hands. I can’t think of many things more terrifying than that.

    At least for me, the notion of beating someone to death with a pipe is a lot more disturbing than shooting any number of people in the head, so I was just as disgusted by what I had to do to survive, as I was by the fact that everybody wanted to do the same thing to me.

    That definitely made it one to remember.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. YoungZer0

    @36: Oh god, i love Condemned.

    I think it’s one of the few horror games that gets pacing right. Just when you thought you got the fighting sorted out, the game stops throwing enemies your way. By the time you encounter the next enemy, you’re in a frightened state again.

    The game really knows how important sound and darkness is. You always think someone could be around the next corner, because you’re sure you heard his footstep- wait, now it’s above me? Is that two people arguing?

    I remember walking through the subway station, following the clues, turning to my left and BOOM fucking psychotic hobo, sitting on a bench, with oily hair and a stupid grin on his face, standing up and walking towards me.

    There was no loud soundeffect, no cheap jumpscare, if i had payed attention i wouldn’t have been that surprised. It also got the violence right. The fighting feels very brutal and very ‘close’. I also love the voiceacting, the people you’re fighting against, really sound insane, they really sound like raging lunatics. Spitting curses at you, while fighting.

    Anybody remembers the abandoned mall, with the mannequin everywhere?
    Also, remember the school? Remember opening that locker with the body inside? :)

    God, so many memorable locations.

    Pity the second one didn’t deliver.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. Unlimax

    Parasite eve is a true Survival Horror RPG that needs to come back anytime ~

    #38 2 years ago
  39. monkeygourmet

    Here’s the prototype of Resi 4 if anyone missed it!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koHGjpvPN74

    Looks similar to Resi Zero and Resi 1 remake on cube. I wish this would get leaked so i could try it. Looks awesome!

    #39 2 years ago
  40. polygem

    @33: eternal darkness is a great and very memorable game. i can still recall certain parts of it though i really only played it when it came out!
    but i cannot recall it to be truly scary…
    @36: i enjoyed condemned too (only played the first one – there was a sequel right?) but i found it a bit repetetive and i didn´t buy into that overly agressiveness much. sure it is a great tool to get immersion if you have to fight someone with your bare hands or a crowbar in order to survive, but the whole game was build around that so it lost all the tension after a while…at least to me. when it comes to horror i am not easy to please. i love horror movies. it´s not easy to make a really good and scary horror game though and the more that are getting named here the more i believe there isn´t one single truly scary horror game out yet
    :(
    i really wanna see an old school slasher – one single psycopath killer- game
    or something like the descent could work as a horror game very well too
    or the hills have eyes…in the end it is only you and your tough german shepherd that wants to avenge the death of his girlfriend doggi…classic classic stuff….(the remake of the first one is quite good too but the original is great as well. it´s from 1977 and they cannot make a proper horror GAME today?)

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Dave Cook

    Condemned is ace, even I’d the second one for a bit odd. The bit with the bear in the cabin from the first one was horrible.

    Yes to Parasite Eve as well. Such an incredible game. The combat mechanic was inspired.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. polygem

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGVDZv3Q8Mg

    haha looks quite shit but the movie is really good

    #42 2 years ago
  43. absolutezero

    Remember that fear is entirely personnal so whatever might be good and scary to you could be a walk in the park for someone else.

    The nearest Survival Horror comes to my memory is Clock Tower 3 which is a procession of single major psycho villians who chase the main character, the only things you can do until late on in the game is run away and hide.

    Stalker aswell could be a game thats either just a fun trot around The Zone or something terrifying like in the Labs.

    Condemned had one of the best early uses of both audio and lighting, the shadows and how they were used set up this generation pretty well, well better than all the other launch games on the 360 anyway.

    We never got Parasite Eve 1 here in the EU, so I ended up having to import it. Kinda worthwhile to be honest as its a much better game than either of its follow ups.

    I don’t know I don’t think I’ve ever felt true fear from a video game, but then the samething goes for cinema and literature. Thats not really why I play them.

    #43 2 years ago
  44. Erthazus

    Dave Cook, what’s your opinion about Amnesia: machine for pigs?

    #44 2 years ago
  45. Talkar

    We always have shifts in genres. At the moment we are seeing a lot of modern style FPS. But we’ve had different genres that were popular too. For example survival horror games used to be extremely popular, then a few years later the focus shifted to RTS, and then MMORPG, and now shooters. Don’t worry, we will get a survival horror cycle again :P

    #45 2 years ago
  46. Da Man

    Yeah man, fear is totally personal. Imagine playing Tetris if you have claustrophobia.

    The horror.

    When you really think about it, Medal of Honor was scarier than Condemned, since the enemies involved could actually explain why they want you dead.

    I think the scariest thing about videogames is how in it’s time Dracula and everything Stoker wrote was considered on the same level as Michael Bay now.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. Dave Cook

    @44 I think it’ll be interesting, I really want to check it out :)

    #47 2 years ago
  48. BraveArse

    I’ve always been a complete wuss when it comes to horror, I have a talent for suspending disbelief. Condemned was too much for me. :) For me though, aside from Resi 1 to 3 the pinnacle is Dead Space.

    I can see why a lot of folks don’t find it that scary but it scared the bejesus out of me, mostly because of the amazing sound design. Plug that game into a half decent surround amp and it absolutely cranks the fear up a few notches.

    There were points in the first game where I had the hairs on my arms standing on end (opening a sliding door onto a dark, long corridor in the medical area being one such moment) and just had to switch it off and go and play a nice fluffy Ninty game instead. =)

    Edit +1 for Dino Crisis. The mrs and i still talk about that game occasionally. And I still regard Eternal Darkness as one of the best games ever but for some reason never thought of it as survival horror

    #48 2 years ago
  49. BraveArse

    Oh and @Dave

    “Slow and clunky, weak and vulnerable, under-resourced and restricted. Can you think of any new console games that actively promote these values besides obvious titles like Dark Souls?”

    But surely ignoring Demon’s and Dark Souls is to miss out on a genuinely exciting evolution and/or blend of the genre? Perhaps the problem with the genre is that our pigeon holes are too tightly defined. With those titles informing the design of games like ZombiU, I’d argue that there’s a far more positive outlook than might appear at first glance. =)

    #49 2 years ago
  50. Dave Cook

    @49 I absolutely agree with you :)

    But Activision and EA wouldn’t. They act as if speed, fluidity and heft are all essential to justifying a £44.99 price tag. If a game is lacking in those areas, then they fear it.

    ZombiU is a good example too, as it plays wonderfully BECAUSE it is slow and clunky.

    Some publishers – I say publishers, because developers are very smart people – simply don’t get gamers at times. It’s not a new thing, it’s always happened since Atari and Activision first started monopolising the market back in the 70s/80s/

    #50 2 years ago
  51. BraveArse

    @Dave yeah I see what you’re saying, but then what we have to do is focus on those games that do what we prefer from the genre – the souls games for example – until EA ( acti, is increasingly irrelevant in my gaming world ) reacts to it, and really the wider gaming press have a responsibility here.

    It strikes me as a great shame that the games community have spent so long complaining about Japanese games ( and that’s really the core of survival horror in my view ), yet when they try to westernise them they get a right kicking for their troubles.

    I agree though the big publishers have a tendency to homogenise the character and uniqueness out of every genre they touch. I’m guessing because it’s far more profitable not to have to build a new engine when they have a new game. So the more similar every game is the better, for them.

    It’s a trend that we as consumers and you, the gaming press can do something about though.

    Imo, the real problem is that, much as I love resi; as a story, a universe, it has simply had its day. Resi 6 was actually a risk, bravely taken imo. It didn’t work, but that’s risk for you. They must have known that. The publishers and the developers obviously know that the previous games weren’t doing as well as they hoped.

    It needs to be put to rest to help make the genre more relevant. Gaming has moved on, but our expectations of resi are that it should stay the same yet somehow also be amazing. This is nigh on impossible, surely?

    New ip needs to come to the fore. And, actually, if you look around, it is. Which is my long winded way of saying it’s not /that/ terrible right now. There are hugely positive moves from FROM and, surprisingly, Ubisoft. What we need to do is beat their drums harder.

    As gamers I’ve always felt we’re too small c conservative for our own good. Hammering every genre tweak, experiment and misstep like it’s a family insult. I’m as guilty of that as anyone else btw, when it comes to rally games especially. =)

    Anyway, unusually positive rant./end =)

    #51 2 years ago
  52. YoungZer0

    @41: The bear in the cabin was in Condemned 2. :)

    #52 2 years ago
  53. CPC_RedDawn

    Resident Evil 1, 2, and the Remake and Zero are some of my all time fav games ever!

    Seeing how the series has become something of a complete and utter mess is really hard to watch. Yea sure the old games had clunky controls but that added to the tension even if there was only one monster in the same room as you.

    These games were amazing in creating tension, suspense, fear, anxiety, through atmosphere, graphics (pre rendered backgrounds!), lighting, and sound.

    Now if it does not contain more than three hundred explosions or more guns then it apparently wont sell! Just look at Dead Space 1 and 2. Both have clunky slow moving controls (a little more free moving the old Resi yes), it has great tension, suspense, graphics, and music and above all else ITS SCARY!!

    I don’t think Resident Evil has been scary since number 3 running away from the Nemesis was some of the scariest stuff I have ever done in a game period!

    Now the story has of Resi has gotten seriously out of touch. Its gone too far, its spread global, there are more characters now then I could care about.

    I think they should just let Resident Evil die now, its getting beyond a joke how bad the games are. Resident Evil 5 was piss poor and 6 is a little better but still its a pile of shit! Resident Evil 4 was a nice blend of horror and action but still the story was insanely bad.

    I for one am a lot more interested in the PC market for horror games. With games like Slender, Amnesia, Cry Of Fear, etc coming through the works as mods or stand alones they are excellent games.

    #53 2 years ago
  54. Telepathic.Geometry

    I’m inclined to agree. For some reason, horror doesn’t sell to the masses. Take Dead Space and Demon’s Souls, two games I tried hard to sell my friends on, but after playing a little, they were too un-nerved and scared to play on, and quickly quit.

    Maybe it’s just like the movie industry, horror movies (as a general rule) can never really hope to take the top-spot and really roll in the blockbuster cash. So we get Michael Bay and explosions. And everyone’s happy… :-/

    #54 2 years ago
  55. Da Man

    Poor intelligent horror, it takes so much skill, passion and training to play Silent Hill as opposed to Call of Duty.

    The stories are amazingly insightful too, I mean what can possibly be better than Children of the Corn or Shining? Clearly people who enjoy tripe like Blops couldn’t comprehend.

    Never sold well at all, too. Just look at Stephen King. Poor bastard lives a life of a homeless man, trying to sell his masterpieces.

    #55 2 years ago
  56. Kyle the Bastard

    I’m in the process of searching for lists of older survival horror games and I found this article on accident, but I’m glad I did because I agree whole-heartedly and I’ve basically been trolling lists of survival horror games for including “Resident Evil 4,” “Silent Hill: Homecoming” and other bastardizations of the games I adored growing up. The problem is videogames are becoming more popular than ever before, and as media becomes popular it adapts (or usually recedes) to appeal to a larger customer base. That means that the commmon douchebag calls the shots and he’s decided he wants all games to be exactly the same: non-stop action, god-like ability, and the absence of anything that makes him think too hard, like imagination, diversity or substance. Amnesia was great, as was Prenumbra before it, but now that it’s popular it may only be a matter of time before it turns into the same boring game that the corporate gamemakers have been peddling for the last few years.

    #56 9 months ago
  57. Dave Cook

    @56 thanks for reading man :D

    #57 9 months ago
  58. GwynbleiddiuM

    I can’t forget the first time I played RE2, I was walking back from the briefing room corridor suddenly those hands appeared out of the blue smashing the windows and trying to grab me (well, Leon), I was scared shitless. I couldn’t hold the controller in my hands properly, my heart was racing. And you think that was my first encounter in the game of that horrific magnitude, it wasn’t and it wasn’t the last one either.

    Fast-forwarding to RE3 when you get to the photo development room after walking down the stairs, Nemesis jumps through the window, I felt something broke in my body, a great shiver overtook my brain, I was frozen where I stand and couldn’t move quite literally. By that point you were expecting shit like that to happen, I was sure where next Nemesis will reappear, but that didn’t help one bit when he reappeared same story of panic attack. They were brilliant.

    Sadly I have not seen a single instance that made me feel like that, a bit in Dead Space (first one) but nothing, really nothing after that.

    I really hope Mikami can pull it off with The Evil Within, I really really hope so.

    Thanks Dave, excellent read and a tragic reminder of what the genre has stooped to.

    #58 9 months ago