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What's the difference between "horror" and "survival horror"? Let Shinji Mikami explain

Shinji Mikami, the father of survival horror, draws a distinction between the genre he helped establish and others we in the west tend to lump together.


The Evil Within is a "survival horror", the Resident Evil creator explained in an interview with Wired, as opposed to the more established Japanese "horror" genre.

"In games in Japan, a typical horror game is something like Clock Tower or Silent Hill but survival horror, the kind of game I like to create, is also entertainment," Mikami said.

"The horror aspect of the game and the entertainment aspect of the game have to mix together.

"It's a close genre but the difference between pure horror and survival horror is that in the latter you can defeat the monsters and feel good about it. You have to have that sense of being able to defeat a monster, even if it's tough.

"I've made Evil Within to be a very difficult game but when you finish the game, you will feel a sense of achievement. It is scary, but don't be scared too much."

It's an interesting distinction because the loss of agency in games with limited or no weapons is often much more scary than more empowering titles. It's hard to be nervous when you've got an automatic shotgun, you know?

It's also kind of odd to me personally that Mikami makes a distinction between "entertainment" (shooting enemies?) and "horror" (having the crap scared out of you). Is horror not entertaining? Does Mikami prefer less scary games than those in the pure "horror" category?

What mysterious preferential, linguistic and cultural differences divide our understanding of each other. The world is a beautiful place.

The Evil Within arrives on PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in October.

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