It’s no surprise in the last few years, the survival horror genre has suffered severely and has dropped ‘survival’ for the most part. Survival conveys a sense of dread and fear as you run from a presence too terrible to deal with, hoping to keep your life. With the fall of P.T., Konami has a Silent Hill franchise that’s in shambles. Don’t forget however, there were two big names in survival horror. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 picked up the series after the negatively criticized Resident Evil 6 and took it back to the basics and it has done exceedingly well. And how about the other horror games that had been released or are pending for release in 2015?
It’s easy to be cynical about survival horror because of the extreme lack of true survival horror in the last few years, but we can’t forget the ones that exceed and do well in what they do… Scare the living daylights out of you. Red Barrels Games Outlast is definitely a strong form in the genre; a game that shines the spotlight on how powerless you actually are, with no other option but to run and hide. The game takes place in an asylum which by conventional horror settings is a pretty distressing place to run for your life in.
The implication of a diseased mind creates a whole notion of mental fear. A fear of the hidden, a fear of the unexpected and a fear of the absolute chaotic; fears that drive the heightened anxiety as you traverse the clinic. Outlast does a magnificent job at making you really feel helpless but doesn’t use that gimmick in order to stop you from being able to simply run and gun. As I said before, the gimmick has been done and this method of approach to survival horror is still one of the most effective ways; but it will get boring if it’s always a ‘run-for-your-life’ style.
I mentioned run and gun; and I make it sound like a bad approach to survival horror; but you know what? I bite my tongue regarding that. Bloodborne is a fine example of a horrific game where you have to fight for your life to survive. That’s as much of a survival horror as any as you encounter eldritch-esque horrors and beasts that make you simple ‘nope’ as soon as you see them. The dread in Bloodborne is coming to grips with a giant boss, or discovering that hunter you figure was a push over, was actually an incredibly powerful adversary; those moments where you’re outlook on the outcome of battle is bleak and all you want to do is run away and hide; that’s a tantalizing sensation when it comes to survival horror. As opposed to being helpless, Bloodborne gives the player the power to conquer the enemies… barely.
There’s no hiding place, there’s no quick time events to automatically do something; everything you do is up to your capacity. If you mess up and enter an encounter ill prepared or careless, it’s a quick death. What sets this as a survival horror is the fact that the system where you regain health back if you damage enemies implies a necessity and rush to enter a risk-reward combat scenario in order to survive in case you get hit. Being intimidated from slicing into an axe-wielding sinister figure, you can only hope you get them, before they get you. There are countless other games that slide roughly in line with ‘survival horror’ in their own way; it’s safe to say it’s not dead, just harder to see.
There’s plenty more games you should be looking forward to if you’re a fan of survival horror. The next Silent Hill might be dead (or not going to be as good with the original team at least) and Revelations 2 might already be completely out; but you do have the spiritual successor to Silent Hill; Forgotten Memories which just came out on the iOS and is an episodic game. There’s Project Scissors (Night Cry), the spiritual successor to Clocktower that hit its Kickstarter. There’s also Outlast 2 and a very neat horror game called Kodoku that has a very pretty art style as shown above and looks like it’ll be out on the Vita and PS4. All of these games have great potential and all have a very realistic way to make 2015 a year of extraordinary game for survival horror goers!
Do you disagree with anything? Have a really good horror game that you think people should give a go or look forward to? Let us know in the comments!