Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
30 Genres of Christmas
Survival Horror
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 28, 2009   |   Episode 3 (Show Archive)  


It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're counting down the days until Christmas by looking at 30 different video game genres. From the most popular games to the tiniest niche titles, everything fits into a genre and we're going to be there to shed absolutely no new information about that genre in this month-long feature. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 30 Genres of Christmas!

My Leon, what big hands you have!
How Do You Know You Are Playing a Survival Horror Game? Despite your better senses, you're stuck investigating a creepy old mansion (or town, hotel, school, etc.) and dealing with cumbersome controls. And since you're limited by how many bullets you can shoot, you'll probably find yourself running from the very hint of a confrontation. Good thing you're the master of unlocking, otherwise you would never get out of this Survival Horror game alive!

Patron Saint: This genre takes its roots from books by H.P. Lovecraft and popular Hollywood movies. The earliest Survival Horror games include Haunted House on the Atari 2600, Sweet Home on the NES and the Commodore 64 version of Friday the 13th.

Typical Story: You're a member of a special police unit investigating some strange (possibly supernatural) events. Before long your team is split up and you lose almost all communication. You also find

... Well, at least the games are scary!
that your ammo supply is dangerously low and there seems to be some sort of monster (or rather, monsters) after you. But don't worry, if you want to beat this nightmare all you will need to do is find the right keys and master moving crates around. Oh, and make sure you don't forget to bring a second backpack or something ... there's nothing worse than running out of room when all you're trying to do is hold a shotgun, handgun, grenade launcher and a bag of pot (er, healing herbs).

What Your Kid Sister Would Think: Let's face it; your kid sister is annoying. She has a batch of loud and obnoxious friends, has terrible taste in music, and all she needs to do is smile to win your parent's affection. She sucks. But just because she's constantly annoying you, that doesn't mean that you should sit her down and make her explore the foggy streets of Silent Hill. This will be one of those defining moments that she tells Dr. Phil about years after the fact. You will never live this down and it will forever haunt her dreams. You're better off having her play the Hannah Montana game. Trust me; it's only a matter of time before she develops better taste in games.

This poster sure makes Resident Evil 5 look scary, but it's no more frightening than Hannah Montana!
Not a Survival Horror Game: Resident Evil 5 is a lot of things. It's a great looking adventure with memorable characters, solid gameplay and a story that manages to wrap everything up. But there's one thing it's not, and that's a Survival Horror game. Even though it carries the Resident Evil name and many of the cliches that go with it, this 2009 Capcom blockbuster is an action game through and through. How else do you explain the fact that you're never low on bullets, always have somebody with you and are never afraid of the situation you seem to have gotten yourself in? It's still a great game, but Resident Evil 5 is definitely not scary.

Then vs. Now? For me it's hard to say which era of Survival Horror game is better. If it wasn't for the hideously bad controls, I would say that the games of the 1990s (Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, etc.) are better. They are certainly more effective in their storytelling and scares. Modern horror games have the presentation and controls down, but along the way they have forgotten what made the series scary. The moment somebody can get the graphics, control and chills in line we'll really have something special. Until that happens, though, I'm going to say that Survival Horror games were better back in the day.


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