Survival Horror's Not Dead

Is survival horror over before it gets it's decaying foot in the door?

In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Shinji Mikami listed the sequel as one of the killers of the survival horror genre, and I have to say I agree. The horror genre is fragile, and to be effective, certain elements have to be in place.  A survival horror sequel takes a lot of creative effort. There are only so many abandoned mansions, evacuated cities, and moonless forests to explore and we need a fresh scare. The survival horror tropes have been used too much to barely serve its purpose. But there is another problem in survival horror, one that’s deadly to a game if not used correctly-- Cooperative play.

This problem is heavy exampled by the likes of the long running game series, Resident Evil. I have played almost every installment since the first and it’s one of the best examples of survival horror as a genre, it's the game for which the genre term was coined. Resident Evil is one of the only games that is both survival and horror simultaneously. With limited bullets and some of the most vile creatures about, it’s the perfect blend of strategy and the unnatural.

Two's a crowd

The only difference really between Resident Evil 6, a flop, and Resident Evil 4, arguably the best game ever made, is that the companion is not cowering behind you, but shooting alongside you. Recent popularity of shooters and cooperative play take you out of the experience of being afraid when one of the main components of a survival horror is having to SURVIVE. Feeling helpless, being placed in an atmosphere surrounding you in complete defenselessness and having to get by with a pipe if you have to! Big guns with infinite rounds have no place there, and that’s exactly what RE 6 depends on.

Together we stand

One glimmering game still comes to mind as using survival horror and cooperative play in the most optimum sense is 2008’s Left 4 Dead. Four players isn’t a crutch, it’s absolutely needed. The line between 100 percent health and well… being left for dead, is as fragile as a smoker's tongue snagging one of your players or an ill-timed encounter with a witch.This game heavily relies on sound; remember hearing your first witch? Your first tank that you could hear and feel, but could not see? On top of that, Left 4 Dead AI director creates original levels and experiences so that every time it feels fresh. All of these aspects create focus and cohesion between players where it could easily be a talk fest, and focus is the breeding ground to be afraid.

 You see my friends, if developers think outside the box to incorporate newer elements in the right ways, survival horror will survive. 

Featured Contributor

Welcome to my profile! I play mostly action/ adventure, survival horror and RPG games as of late! I'm Studying Media Arts and Design in Virginia.

Published Jul. 29th 2013

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