Survival horror is a prominent video game subgenre of action-adventure games or first-person shooters in which the player has to survive an onslaught of undead or creepy opponents, usually in claustrophobic environments in a third-person perspective. Horror film elements are used liberally. The player is typically armed, but not nearly as well-armed as the player in a shooter game. The player's goal is generally to escape from an isolated house or town that is inhabited mostly by zombies and monsters through shooting and puzzle solving. Isolation is generally one of the most re-current themes within this genre.
Survival horror is possibly the only video game subgenre that is defined primarily by theme rather than game play style. Though most commonly associated with the Resident Evil mechanics described above, the genre is also home to beat 'em ups (Nightmare Creatures , Splatterhouse ), role playing games (Sweet Home ), first-person shooters (, Hungry Ghosts ), and text adventure games (Kamaitachi No Yoru ). Other games such as the Doom and Castlevania series include horror elements, but such games are not typically considered survival horror because horror is not the defining game play characteristic. However, the subjective nature of such discrepancies can make survival horror a difficult genre to classify.
Some popular survival horror games include:
The name Survival Horror probably came from "Enter the world of survival horror...", a line of text displayed by the first Resident Evil (1996) while the game was loading.
Alone in the Dark (1993) is considered to be the first survival horror title, though some feel that Transylvania (1986) on the Apple II, Halloween (1983) on the Atari 2600, and Friday the 13th (1985) on the C64 are the fathers of the genre.
The survival horror genre was popularized by Resident Evil (1996) on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn video game consoles. Resident Evil was heavily influenced by both Alone in the Dark and Sweet Home (1989). (1995) predates Resident Evil, but it was only released in Japan and is not well known. D (1996) is perhaps the best known of a group of point-and-click horror games produced in Japan in the mid 1990s.
Silent Hill (1999) and Clock Tower (1997) created a group of survival horror games that focus on psychological terror rather than violence and gore. This category deemphasizes combat in order to increase the vulnerability of the protagonist and consequently build tension. Similar titles include Fatal Frame and Siren .