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The History of Survival Horror Games

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crazyceo 10th June 2010, 10:46 Quote
Alan who?

Sorry, I just had to follow on from the death in PC gaming thread when it was announced it wouldn't be launched on the PC.

The game that really gave me a kicking was the first AVP. I had 5.1 sound for the first time and stupidly started playing with the lights off. Christ, did I pap myself playing that. It wasn't long before it was switched off and I was curled up in bed clutching my misses while I was sucking my thumb. She wasn't impressed and still isn't to this day but that's enough of me, not impressing my wife!
13eightyfour 10th June 2010, 10:53 Quote
Survival horror games like i remember are a dying genre imo. The game should be about the atmosphere, silent hill/resi1, Had oddles of it which lead to quite a few **** your pants moments.

The recent resi games have completely lost the plot, i suppose you could argue that they couldnt carry on flogging the same old story but thats what made the game. There are still some japanese gems though but generally the whole genre has been dumbed down.
zr_ox 10th June 2010, 11:15 Quote
Like the article a lot, I remember Resident Evil 1 so fondly. Walking down the corridor when the rabid dogs jumped throught the windows...Oh man that made me jump. Then later in the game where your attacked by a hunter which was creeping around in one of the hallways.

L4D should be mentioned, there have been many moment of sheer despiration experienced in that one, only in MP of course...SP is meh!
Guinevere 10th June 2010, 11:36 Quote
How come no mention of L4D? Maybe not classic survival horror, but surely a branch?
DbD 10th June 2010, 11:37 Quote
+1 for L4D - does the co-op element very well, although it's not that scary (well maybe it was in the beginning but I'm hardened to it now).

System Shock 2 should have been in there - that was a scary game mainly because the zombies were really tough and you didn't have enough bullets to just kill everything. The sound was great so you'd hear something coming and then think - oh no!
CardJoe 10th June 2010, 11:39 Quote
I wouldn't say L4D is Survival Horror at all, to be honest. It's non-stop shooting, through and through. There's no real frights or tension and the game isn't characterised by the elements which would usually define a Survival Horror. Instead, it's characterised more by the element of a team-based shooter - it's inherently social and strategic by design.

Survival Horror games are usually defined by the way they move the focus away from combat and force players to avoid confrontation. System Shock could (maybe, in the early sequences) be a Survival Horror - but not really L4D....
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Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Survival horror is a subgenre of action-adventure video game inspired by horror fiction. These games make the player vulnerable by providing them with less ammunition and fewer heavy weapons than other action games. Although combat is a part of the gameplay, the player must ration ammunition by evading enemies and avoiding direct confrontation. The player is also challenged to find items that unlock the path to new areas, and solve puzzles at certain locations. Games make use of strong horror themes, and the player is often challenged to navigate dark maze-like environments, and react to unexpected attacks from enemies.

Think back to the Survival Horror classics - Resi, Sweet Home, Silent Hill - and compare them to L4D and you see there's no much similarity other than Zombies + Dark + Not Knowing Where Some Stuff Is All The Time. L4D is far closer to the likes of Doom than it is to Resident Evil.
SlowMotionSuicide 10th June 2010, 11:44 Quote
Quote:
It's scary, but...

..one would still bang it?
Phalanx 10th June 2010, 11:48 Quote
I would like to put a noteable mention for the first AVP (I believe someone mentioned it already). Not only was that FPS and thriller, but the first time I played it, I chose the Marines campaign, and my GOD, was I bricking it. The whole thing, right down to the motion sensor and seeing your ammo counter rapidly deteriorate as the aliens kept coming at you, really put me in the mindset of survival first, mission second!
Lizard 10th June 2010, 12:04 Quote
Thief, in particular the Escape level 2/3rd of the way through the game, had some great survival horror elements.

Locked in a haunted mansion without any weapons after The Trickster has just ripped your right eyeball out of its socket?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34g2uiqD4VU

Oh, Looking Glass, we miss you.
CardJoe 10th June 2010, 12:26 Quote
If we're going to talk of Thief, we have to mention Thief: Deadly Shadow's redeeming features - The Cradle and The Haunted Ship. Goddamn, The Cradle is the scariest thing to have graced a screen ever.
pimlicosound 10th June 2010, 12:28 Quote
It's not classic survival horror, but I found the first FEAR to be quite scary - not in a makes-you-jump-with-fright sort of way, but more in the way that the story gradually revealed the twisted nature of Wade and his experiments with Alma, and your relationship with her. I found it very unsettling in a way that a town full of zombies simply isn't.
pimlicosound 10th June 2010, 12:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
If we're going to talk of Thief, we have to mention Thief: Deadly Shadow's redeeming features - The Cradle and The Haunted Ship. Goddamn, The Cradle is the scariest thing to have graced a screen ever.

Joe, you mention the Thief games a lot, and I'm starting to regret never having played them. Perhaps I should look them up.

What games would you compare them with? Are they similar to playing a thief / assassin in Oblivion, for example?
Phalanx 10th June 2010, 12:35 Quote
I wonder, does Steam have the Thief series?

Jeez, I'll put that under my list with Deus Ex...

Edit: Bah, only Thief: Deadly Shadows on Steam. Is that the only one worth playing?
CardJoe 10th June 2010, 12:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pimlicosound
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
If we're going to talk of Thief, we have to mention Thief: Deadly Shadow's redeeming features - The Cradle and The Haunted Ship. Goddamn, The Cradle is the scariest thing to have graced a screen ever.

Joe, you mention the Thief games a lot, and I'm starting to regret never having played them. Perhaps I should look them up.

What games would you compare them with? Are they similar to playing a thief / assassin in Oblivion, for example?

I'm not sure whether it's worth going back to them all - they are brilliant, but the first two especially look very dated. It's like Deus Ex: unparalleled brilliance, but goddamn ugly. If you think you can contend with that and look at the game as you would have when they first came out though, maybe go for it. Personally, I'm hoping they show up on GoodOldGames soon.

Luckily, The Cradle and The Haunted Ship show up in Thief: Deadly Shadows, which doesn't look as dated. Deadly Shadows is definitely the worst in the series, but it's still a good game. Solid level design and all - it's mainly the open city sections which are a departure from the norm for the series.

Comparison-wise, they don't really compare all that much. They aren't really like playing Oblivion - though that's probably closer than some of the more obvious comparisons, like Hitman. It's not at all about killing people - if you even get spotted then you've usually messed up. It's a true stealth game, where you don't want to get detected at all.

Really, when it comes to Thief, words start to fail.
GFC 10th June 2010, 12:49 Quote
The only game that made me actually scared was Fear2. Loved that game, but just didn't have balls big enough to finish it.
Lizard 10th June 2010, 12:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Really, when it comes to Thief, words start to fail.

Indeed - I think I'm going to take tomorrow off and play through Thief 1 :)
CardJoe 10th June 2010, 13:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizard
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Really, when it comes to Thief, words start to fail.

Indeed - I think I'm going to take tomorrow off and play through Thief 1 :)

Thief 1 is, for me, the most personally scary thing ever. The second level, the Prison...it...it just cripples me with fear. It took me years to muster the courage to actually play it (previously I just skipped that level). There's just something about it - the idea of going through this devastated mine, with no effective defence against the undead, only to emerge in the one place the game tells you to avoid, to complete a hopeless mission.

Honestly, I don't know what it is. I've played every other level and game in the series and, while they've been scary, I've always gone in and done them easily enough. The Prison though...it just fills me with dread and brings me out in a cold sweat at the thought of it. In all my time and experience I've never found anything which terrifies me in such a way - my entire body just starts going "OHSHI-OHSHI-OHSHI" at the concept of it.

So, yeah - I'll play Thief 2 instead...
Fizzban 10th June 2010, 13:48 Quote
I recently played through Resident Evil 2 again. Spent several days playing through both Leon and Claire's campaigns. I'd forgotten how much fun they are. Wasn't long before I could get a perfect run. No saves, no special weapons, no first aid and all in under 2.5 hours. I made it with seconds to spare. The relief was palpable. That level of pressure and the fear when you have to fight a boss (especially with those controls), knowing if you die you've got to start over... Aah it was good.
Podge4 10th June 2010, 14:31 Quote
There aren't that many games that scare me. The only ones to do anything like that would be F.E.A.R. 1 and 2. The rest of the time I would say its just a bit more of an anticipation followed by a jump not a actual proper scare. The bit in F.E.A.R. that really got me was near the end of the game i think and your making your way up to the roof and theres two or three fast moving baddies that can cloak start attacking you. on a 42" screen and surround sound up loud its one of the only times i was saying "oh f**k, oh f**k!" out loud.
Nowell @ CCL 10th June 2010, 14:33 Quote
The Penumbra Series - very intense horror/thinking games.

System Shock 2 - absolute classic, very dated but sends shivers down your spine!
Hovis 10th June 2010, 17:09 Quote
I rather liked Cold Fear on the PS2. It was pretty much a Resident Evil clone kind of thing, but it was all set on board a Russian ship that was bobbing around like crazy in the Bering Sea. This meant that the fact the game area itself was quite small was forgiveable, and it also gave the game an immense amount of atmosphere courtesy of the stormy seas, the ship being flung around, and the sense that there was basically nowhere to run to. A great game for fans of Deadliest Catch that one.

I agree wholeheartedly about the Thief series being scary as hell too. Stealth done well generates tension in and of itself, so throwing in monsters, darkness and fear on top of it creates a perfect storm for nerve shredding. Games like Left 4 Dead, FEAR, Doom 3 and the more recent AvP games lose a lot of that by making the player combative, because you are this badass who will stomp and destroy all in his path, it's difficult to get scared, because you know it's your destiny in the game to waste everything anyway. In many ways the games where you have ways to avoid combat are scarier, because in combat oriented games you know that you are supposed to kill everything, nothing would be thrown at you that you couldn't kill. In games which have a stealth or an open world element that allows enemies to be avoided you can't know what you're meant to kill and you don't know if things even can be killed. That was the beauty of the scary bits of Thief (and the Hotel from Vampire Bloodlines) the enemies were there, they were looking to kill you, and you could not fight back, only run or hide.
phuzz 10th June 2010, 17:10 Quote
Space Hulk was pretty scary, in a proto-AvP way, and more recently, Stalker scared the pants off me.

I think a lot of the frights in these games came from the fact that they were so bloody difficult, in RE you only have a limited number of times you can save, so you had to guess if it was worth saving right now, or if you could safely make it round the next few corners.
Stalker likewise, when you first meet one of them things that blasted sound at you (I'm sure they have a proper name), when you're armed with a shoddy, half empty gun, that's about as accurate, and dangerous as spitting at someone. Now that's scary!
Kris 10th June 2010, 19:51 Quote
Mmmm, survival horror...

I remember my first 'meet' with the genre... A friend visited me with his playstation for the weekend, and I discovered on his demo disc, a demo of the first Silent Hill...
Me, my brother and my friend were stuck to the TV while i played it through, scared shitless but totally amazed at what a game can be... sadly, no other gaming experiences have come close. Played through the Leon campaign of RE2 and it was scary, I give you that (surprise crows anyone?), but it was not the same.
Later on, I managed to complete it at another friend's place, so that's a good thing :)

For some reason, the endless mist and quiet and static in Silent Hill was just out of this world, and mecha-scary.
Tried SH2 once, but it never inspired me so that's where my survival horror experiences came to an end.

Oh well, at least I have only pleasant memories of the genre :)
pimonserry 10th June 2010, 20:03 Quote
I have to agree with the Cradle - I played it when I was 13 - scared the living daylights out of me. I didn't go back to it for 2 years >.<

It's a good thing Deadly Shadows is on Steam, it's the only one I've played fully and thoroughly enjoyed it - even though the old ones aren't on there, I recommend getting Deadly Shadows (who knows, maybe it was ahead of it's time with the explore-the-city-between-missions part?).
Fizzban 10th June 2010, 20:14 Quote
FEAR getting mentioned a lot. I really enjoyed the experience but I wouldn't ever say it was scary. Doom 3..now that made me jump and cry out like a little girl on occasion. FEAR was good, but it wasn't all that scary.
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