Technically, the first Resident Evil game – way back in 1996 – both named and defined the survival horror genre.
Generally, survival horror games follow the same pattern: you’re in trouble, you’ve got almost no ammunition and your best bet is to run. The story is told through a series of text entries or journal logs and you’re almost always all by yourself.
Traditionally, survival horror games rely on problem-solving and puzzles in order to advance and your lack of readily-available ammunition forces to you think and ration instead of locking your finger on the trigger and blasting anything that moves.
But a recent trend to infuse action game elements into the survival horror genre has led many of us to wonder: does the survival horror genre even still exist?
Is survival horror making a bloody, gruesome comeback?
The most recent addition to the genre, Resident Evil 6 (RE6) was a hugely anticipated title – with hardcore Resident Evil fans and first-time gamers alike awaiting another foray into the world of the C-virus, survivors and those who’ve turned.
Despite 4.5 million copies sold worldwide, RE6 has received a mixed bag of reviews: it was a smash hit to some and a critical failure to others.
And many gamers, including our own Jon Parsons, felt disappointed with Capcom’s latest attempt in the series, saying, “It just proves that bigger isn’t always better.” He even suggested that if RE6 had been called any other name it would have been an awesome title – but it lacked that Resident-Evil-Ness we so desperately craved.
Has Resident Evil 6 kickstarted a long-awaited return to classic survival horror?
No matter your opinion of RE6, it seems clear we’re moving towards more Survival Horror in 2013, with several new titles reviving the blurry genre and landing it right on the front page. I’m going to include ZombiU, even though it technically released in 2012 – but it was in time for the Christmas holidays, so it counts!
The Wii U exclusive title seems to embody many of those traditional survival horror elements we love. But, despite a long wait for this new zombiefest, ZombiU has – like RE6 – gotten a wide range of review scores.
The tweedpunk survival title, Sir, You Are Being Hunted is next up: Gentrified robots hunting you – the only human in the game – for sport. Along with a cup of tea and quite vicious robot hunting hounds.
A shift from the typical zombiefied city or insane asylum plot, Sir, You Are Being Hunted is a new take on a forgotten genre.
And although Sir, You Are Being Hunted is currently still in development (with only an Alpha Gameplay trailer to pique our interest), its simplicity and attention to detail seems to suggest we can definitely look forward to it.
And my ultimate pick for 2013 (so far!): the super survival horror, Outlast.
Outlast’s teaser, official and Halloween trailers seem to show that the title embraces the traditional elements of classic survival horror – with interesting new twists that may make it succeed where others have failed.
It’ll be more about running and hiding and evading the weird thing chasing you than aiming and shooting almost everything in sight.
Outlast developer Red Barrels is hoping to “scare the s***” out of players.”
And I think that Red Barrels may well succeed in their scare quest.
With RE6 and ZombiU scarcely managing rave reviews off the starting blocks, I’ve got to wonder if Sir, You Are Being Hunted and Outlast can make a splash.
One thing seems certain: we need to stock up on ammunition, put on our running shoes and get used to seeing in the dark, because I think 2013 is a sure return to survival horror.