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A Survival Horror Subgenre Is Returning, but It Has a Classic to Beat

Horror games based on movies are on the rise but can they beat another classic?

Horror games are very common in the medium and have been around for decades. However, horror games based on iconic movies are growing more common. In a world where new survival horror games based on movies are coming, they will have big shoes to fill thanks to one game-changing classic: Alien Isolation.

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New Horror Games Based on Movies Are Coming Out Swinging

In a world where online horror survival games like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre prove that iconic movie properties can survive in games, it’s a landscape ripe for interpretation. As a result, we are being introduced to classic and new properties in a new light that many may argue was a long time coming. This includes games like Jurassic Park: Survival, A Quiet Place: The Road Ahead, and The Thing: Remastered.

Though movie-based video games are often a recipe for disaster, with games like Spider-Man 3 and Fight Club, horror movies have always felt right because we are already used to being placed in terrifying situations in the movie. In the case of Jurassic Park: Survival and A Quiet Place: The Road Ahead, it’s a world we may not yearn to be in, but we can forge our own stories. This allows us to be truly immersed in the franchise in the same way we are immersed in franchises like Silent Hill and Resident Evil.

Including The Thing: Remaster also allows us to continue a story that’s, at the very least, considered somewhat canon. Now, instead of watching a continued story, we are living it and doing the same things the likes of Dr. Alan Grant or R.J. MacReady did to survive. But aside from the updated graphics and gameplay found in current-gen systems, many of the narrative beats and immersion owe a lot to Alien: Isolation.

Alien: Isolation is an Unsung Hero in the Franchise

Image by Sega

Alien: Isolation, now, may seem like just another entry in a lackluster game franchise that includes infamous titles like Aliens: Colonial Marines. However, Isolation was so much more than it appeared as a story that followed Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley, on a mission to figure out what happened at the now abandoned Sevastopol space station. Upon entering, we are treated to a classic Alien story where the focus, above all else, is survival.

Whether playing the game with a mic (so the xenomorph can hear you), VR (which adds to the immersion), or regular controls, Alien: Isolation was designed to push survival horror in all the right ways. From motion sensors, crafting, and in-game manual saving that added to the tension, Alien: Isolation was a sensory treat for fans of the franchise long before the xenomorph popped up on the screen.

But even after the alien did appear, it only made everything more tension-filled as it put us in the universe and challenged us to survive it in the same way Ripley had. While it’s a simple concept, it’s one that has set the game apart as an ideal movie-based survival horror game whose lessons must be followed for future entries if they have any hope of raising the bar further.

How Can These New Horror Games Surpass Alien: Isolation?

T-Rex roaring in Jurassic Park: Survival
Screenshot by Gameskinny

Alien: Isolation was lighting in a bottle for horror games based on movies. But the lessons that it taught to the genre weren’t relegated solely to this game. While we may want another sequel to such a fun game, these future titles may be the next best thing. Even still, one of the most important lessons that must be learned isn’t about recreating the movie these games are based on; instead, it’s about expanding the lore.

Jurassic Park: Survival is a great example of this as it places us directly after the first movie when the world knew very little about the dinosaurs in the franchise, and asks us to survive against these newly released animals. It has all the nostalgia of the movies and a brand-new story. But this and A Quiet Place: The Road Ahead also have to factor in things that made the movies so fun. Whether it be the idea of being quiet in the presence of Death Angels or standing still while facing a T-Rex, all of these things are key to elevating survival horror based on an established movie franchise.

On top of that, the gameplay also has to fit the narrative in the same way Alien: Isolation did. Whether it be the shambling of a person running from a creature or the tools that must be used (maybe like the night vision goggles from Jurassic Park?) If these games can manage to capture what made the movies great, from gameplay to story and environment, while also pushing the genre forward with new ideas, then there’s a chance Alien: Isolation won’t be isolated at the top of the mountain.

Be sure to check out our horror hub for more fun and spooky articles on the topic!

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Nicholas Brooks
Nick is a Freelance Writer at Gameskinny and brings with him over a decade of writing and editing experience from sites like CBR and Gameskinny. He also runs a small podcast called Popsubclub, where he interviews individuals in the entertainment industry as well as talks with peers. Nick's love of video games is only a small part of his passions as he's also an avid fan of movies, comics, music and theme parks. Make sure to follow his Instagram (@Comicsubclub) for more.