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Survival horror is a subgenre of video games inspired by horror fiction that focuses on survival of the character as the game tries to frighten players with either horror graphics or scary ambience. Although combat can be part of the gameplay, the player is made to feel less in control than in typical action games through limited ammunition, health, speed and vision, or through various obstructions of the player's interaction with the game mechanics.
The player is also challenged to find items that unlock the path to new areas and solve puzzles to proceed in the game. Games make use of strong horror themes, like dark maze-like environments and unexpected attacks from enemies. The term "survival horror" was first used for the original Japanese release of Resident Evil in , which was influenced by earlier games with a horror theme such as 's Sweet Home and 's Alone in the Dark.
The name has been used since then for games with similar gameplay, and has been retroactively applied to earlier titles. Starting with the release of Resident Evil 4 in , the genre began to incorporate more features from action games and more traditional first person and third-person shooter games. This has led game journalists to question whether long-standing survival horror franchises and more recent franchises have abandoned the genre and moved into a distinct genre often referred to as "action horror".
Survival horror refers to a subgenre of action-adventure video games. Typically, these games contain relatively few non-player characters and, as a result, frequently tell much of their story second-hand through the usage of journals, texts, or audio logs. While many action games feature lone protagonists versus swarms of enemies in a suspenseful environment,  survival horror games are distinct from otherwise horror-themed action games. Survival horror games are a subgenre of horror games,  where the player is unable to fully prepare or arm their avatar.
The survival horror genre is also known for other non-combat challenges, such as solving puzzles at certain locations in the game world,  and collecting and managing an inventory of items. Areas of the game world will be off limits until the player gains certain items.
Occasionally, levels are designed with alternative routes. A survival horror storyline usually involves the investigation and confrontation of horrific forces,  and thus many games transform common elements from horror fiction into gameplay challenges. This feedback assists the player, but also creates feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
Games typically feature a variety of monsters with unique behavior patterns. These boss encounters draw elements from antagonists seen in classic horror stories, and defeating the boss will advance the story of the game. The origins of the survival horror game can be traced back to earlier horror fiction. Archetypes have been linked to the books of H. Lovecraft , which include investigative narratives, or journeys through the depths. Comparisons have been made between Lovecraft's Great Old Ones and the boss encounters seen in many survival horror games.
Themes of survival have also been traced to the slasher film subgenre, where the protagonist endures a confrontation with the ultimate antagonist. Inspired by the stealth game Manibiki Shoujo and the sci-fi horror film Alien , the gameplay of Nostromo involved a player attempting to escape a spaceship while avoiding the sight of an invisible alien, which only becomes visible when appearing in front of the player. The gameplay also involved limited resources, where the player needs to collect certain items in order to escape the ship, and if certain required items are not available in the warehouse, the player is unable to escape and eventually has no choice but be killed getting caught by the alien.
Another early example is the Atari game Haunted House. Gameplay is typical of future survival horror titles, as it emphasizes puzzle-solving and evasive action, rather than violence.
Gameplay also incorporates item collection and inventory management, along with areas that are inaccessible until the appropriate item is found. Because it has several features that have been seen in later survival horror games, some reviewers have retroactively classified this game as the first in the genre.
Malcolm Evans ' 3D Monster Maze , released for the Sinclair ZX81 in ,  is a first-person game without a weapon; the player cannot fight the enemy, a Tyrannosaurus Rex , so must escape by finding the exit before the monster finds him. The game states its distance and awareness of the player, further raising tension. It was a solar-powered game with two LCD panels on top of each other to enable impressive scene changes and early pseudo-3D effects.
The latter half of the s saw the release of several other horror-themed games, including Konami 's Castlevania in , and Sega's Kenseiden and Namco 's Splatterhouse in , though despite the macabre imagery of these games, their gameplay did not diverge much from other action games at the time. It has open environments like Dragon Quest and real-time side-view battles like Zelda II , though War of the Dead departed from other RPGs with its dark and creepy atmosphere expressed through the storytelling, graphics, and music.
The game also has a limited item inventory and crates to store items, and introduced a day-night cycle ; the player can sleep to recover health, and a record is kept of how many days the player has survived.
However, the game often considered the first true survival horror, due to having the most influence on Resident Evil , was the release Sweet Home , for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Unlike most other early games in the genre, it featured a science fiction setting inspired by the film Alien , but had gameplay that closely resembled later survival horror games in many ways. Fahs considers it the first to achieve "the kind of fully formed vision of survival horror as we know it today," citing its balance of action and adventure, limited ammunition, weak weaponry, vulnerable main character, feeling of isolation, storytelling through journals, graphic violence, and use of dynamically triggered music - all of which are characteristic elements of later games in the survival horror genre.
Despite this, it is not likely a direct influence on later games in the genre and the similarities are largely an example of parallel thinking. In , Infogrames released Alone in the Dark , which has been considered a forefather of the genre.
Graphically, Alone in the Dark uses static prerendered camera views that were cinematic in nature. Although players had the ability to fight monsters as in action games , players also had the option to evade or block them.
Both the player character and the environment are rendered in polygons. The player can switch between three different perspectives: In a departure from most survival horror games, Doctor Hauzer lacks any enemies; the main threat is instead the sentient house that the game takes place in, with the player having to survive the house's traps and solve puzzles.
The sound of the player character's echoing footsteps change depending on the surface. In , WARP 's horror adventure game D featured a first-person perspective, CGI full-motion video , gameplay that consisted entirely of puzzle-solving , and taboo content such as cannibalism.
It features up to nine different possible endings. The term "survival horror" was first used by Capcom to market their release, Resident Evil. The success of Resident Evil in was responsible for its template being used as the basis for a wave of successful survival horror games, many of which were referred to as " Resident Evil clones.
The Struggle Within for the PlayStation. These Clock Tower games proved to be hits, capitalizing on the success of Resident Evil while staying true to the graphic-adventure gameplay of the original Clock Tower rather than following the Resident Evil formula. Much like Clock Tower and later Haunting Ground , the player characters in Corpse Party lack any means of defending themselves; the game also featured up to 20 possible endings. However, the game would not be released in Western markets until A Labyrinth Named School , this game was reportedly so scary that the developers had to release several patches adding multiple difficulty options, the game was slated for localization in but was cancelled, building on its previous success in Korea and interest, a remake has been developed in In , Capcom released the successful sequel Resident Evil 2 , which series creator Shinji Mikami intended to tap into the classic notion of horror as "the ordinary made strange," thus rather than setting the game in a creepy mansion no one would visit, he wanted to use familiar urban settings transformed by the chaos of a viral outbreak.
The game sold over five million copies, proving the popularity of survival horror. It was followed by a more action-based sequel, Parasite Eve II , in Konami 's Silent Hill , released in , drew heavily from Resident Evil while using realtime 3D environments in contrast to Resident Evil' s pre-rendered graphics. Also in , Capcom released the original Dino Crisis , which was noted for incorporating certain elements from survival horror games.
It was followed by a more action-based sequel, Dino Crisis 2 , in Fatal Frame from was a unique entry into the genre, as the player explores a mansion and takes photographs of ghosts in order to defeat them. Dead Aim which used light gun and third-person shooter elements.
Western developers began to return to the survival horror formula. Overall, the traditional survival horror genre continued to be dominated by Japanese designers and aesthetics. Veronica and Silent Hill 4: In , Resident Evil 4 attempted to redefine the genre by emphasizing reflexes and precision aiming ,  broadening the gameplay with elements from the wider action genre.
The original genre has persisted in one form or another. The release of F. This Wii effort was, however, considered by most reviewers as a return to form for the series due to several developmental decisions taken by Climax Studios. Examples of independent survival horror games are the Penumbra series and Amnesia: The Eight Pages , all of which were praised for creating a horrific setting and atmosphere without the overuse of violence or gore.
The Last of Us , released in by Naughty Dog , incorporated many horror elements into a third-person action game. Set twenty years after a pandemic plague, the player must use scarce ammo and distraction tactics to evade or kill malformed humans infected by a brain parasite, as well as dangerous survivalists.
Shinji Mikami , the creator of the Resident Evil franchise, released his new survival horror game The Evil Within , in Mikami stated that his goal was to bring survival horror back to its roots even though this is his last directorial work , as he was disappointed by recent survival horror games for having too much action.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the game mode, see Survival mode. For the genre, see Survival game. List of beat 'em ups List of fighting game companies List of fighting games List of first-person shooters List of freeware first-person shooters List of third-person shooters List of Shoot 'em up game companies List of survival games List of gun games List of maze video games List of platform games. Retrieved 10 September Survival Horror and the Resident Evil Franchise".
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