Creeping down a dark flight of stairs with a fading flashlight in your hand… The only thing that you hear is yourself breathing heavily. You try your best not to make sounds while moving about the old screechy floor.
You see a door… Finally, a way out of this nightmare!
For a second you lose your cool and start running towards freedom, imagining yourself raising your hands in a victorious V.
A flash of light… A gash of red! And the monitor starts pouring blood as it fades to black with the smiling, toothy grin of your adversary being the last thing you see.
This is survival horror video gaming in a nutshell!
The Golden Age
It all started during the 90s when slasher, horror B-side movies were on the rise. It immediately opened the door to horror video games such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil.
However, compared to the movies, the games focused more on suspense and less on blood and gore. Exploring a haunted city in Silent Hill or trying to get away from a zombie-infested mansion like in Resident Evil are the footstones of horror gaming genre that still haunt our dreams.
The Rise of Action Horror Genre
At one point, developers started to change the formula and added an action element to survival horror. Adding fight sequences and action elements helped propel games like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space to the mainstream of gaming in 2005.
A faster pace and the ability to fight your attacker head-on with all the weapons at your disposal was thrilling, but only at first.
By 2012, the formula got stale and Resident Evil 6 and Dead Space 3 turned into carbon copies of hundreds of other action games that were already available on the market.
The resurgence of horror games and getting back to its roots began with Indie developers who decided to throw their hat into the ring.
2010’s Amnesia: The Dark Descent took away the player’s weapons, leveling system and essentially the ability to fight back. Reducing them to a mere… well human.
Without action and weapons, you are left to your basic instincts and the only thing that you can do is run away and hide. Games like Outlast and Five Nights at Freddy’s are perfect examples. It’s a shame that the canceled Silent Hill project never saw the light of day, but Hideo Kojima’s playable teaser gave us a small taste of what we could have gotten.
P.T. is situated in an L-shaped room with a bathroom and you can go through it within an hour. However, the hour lasts like an eternity as you try to dodge ghosts and fright scares that are coming from unexpected angles.
P.T. is also to blame for revitalizing the Resident Evil franchise with the latest Biohazard sequel. It also inspired newer games like Until Dawn, Soma, Layers of Fear, Kholat, Observer, and many more.
The horror gaming genre has gone a long way, but it has proven that the original formula is still the best one. We love to get that rush o adrenalin and be frightened to our wits. That’s why we watch scary movies and play these kinds of video games. There are even better things to come in the survival horror genre for sure.