- Action-based horror titles have become too obscure in horror gaming recently due to survival horror’s prominence.
- But, the success of Dead Space shows how fans want more horror games from the subgenre.
- Studios need to make more action-horror titles besides elevating survival horror games.
- The future slate of horror games includes a lot of action-heavy titles, indicating a revival is on the cards.
Horror video games have become arguably the best expression of the entertainment genre. No form of horror media frightens the consumers and gets their heartbeat racing like gaming. Research has also found that playing scary video games affects people more than watching scary movies.
A big reason for how effective video games are in inducing terror is down to how personal the experience is. In horror games, the players themselves have to maneuver the main character out of the claws of terrifying dangers. So, it’s easy to see why controlling a protagonist in frightening surroundings is more spine-chilling.
In the gaming industry, horror titles have become a flagship product in the past two decades. During this time, the genre has evolved a lot with franchises like Resident Evil, Silent Hil, and Alone in the Dark. As a result of this metamorphosis, horror has branched into various subgenres.
The two most popular iterations of horror in the gaming world are survival horror and action horror titles. Both of these subgenres share a lot of elements, but with one basic difference. Action-horror games contain the same terrifying scares that survival titles have, however, you can fight back against these threats.
Survival horror rose in popularity with Silent Hill and has cemented its status in the modern era. Games like Outlast, Resident Evil 7, and PT have made it the premiere horror genre for contemporary players. Your protagonist is weaker and mostly can’t fight the perils you face making you outrun them or hide to progress.
Even if combat is present, the player has limited ammo, which is contrary to what happens in action-heavy horror titles. They let you combat whatever antagonist is present in the game with ample ammo, giving you more control.
Resident Evil 4 was the first major AAA game to emphasize shooting elements in a horror game. The term action horror itself came out of this third-person shooter horror game. Since its release, titles like Days Gone, BioShock, and Dead Space have carried the subgenres legacy.
Survival Horror Dominance
Since Resident Evil reverted to its roots, action horror games have become rare. PT’s success and influence played a key role in survival horror becoming the mainstream horror genre. As a result, we have mostly seen survival horror games with elevated scares in the past few years.
Doesn’t matter if we are talking about indie or AAA games, most horror games have been following PT’s roadmap for the last few years. We have seen countless first-person horror games that put more stress on environmental horror and storytelling. MADiSON, Martha is Dead, and Visage are just some recent releases of this ilk.
It’s not to say they are bad, a lot of these survival horror titles are amazing. But, variation in its products is one of the best aspects of the gaming industry. When one genre keeps releasing titles that are too alike, it kills creativity and interest.
Sure, there have been unique narrative horror games like Man of Medan, The Quarry, and Little hope. But they are also low in number compared to survival horror titles and don’t feature traditional combat gameplay. Hence, survival horror has dominated the medium for several years.
Games like Doom Eternal and Dying Light 2 have been few and far between. However, action horror has been making a comeback recently. The recent success of the Dead Space remake is the harbinger of this revival and proves why battle-heavy horror games are so necessary.
Dead Space Remake’s Success Proves We Need More Action Horror Games
The original Dead Space is one of the greatest horror games of all time. It took the third-person shooter focus of Resident Evil 4 to space and replaced zombies with terrifying aliens. And this worked to perfection as the game was a massive critical and commercial success.
EA officially announced the Dead Space remake in 2021, at a time when horror fans really needed it. There were not many new action-horror IPs that had come out in the past few years, only survival horror titles. Just in 2022, dozens of games like Fobia St. Difna Hotel, Scorn, and VHS came out from the subgenre.
Hence, survival games made to make you feel powerless were prominent in the industry. On the other hand, only a few well-known horror shooters came out in the past few years, including Doom Eternal, Resident Evil Village, and Days Gone. When you compare it to the number of survival horror titles, these are rookie numbers.
So, the return of a legendary action horror franchise was a need, and Dead Space delivered. It has only been out for a short while, but it has reminded us how amazing action elements are in horror games. Reviews of the game have been universally positive, calling it a worthy remake.
Sales numbers haven’t come out as of this article being written. But, the game has had a strong start on Steam, gaining 30k concurrent players on day one. If the fanfare and player reception around the Dead Space remake is any indication, it is going to be a commercial hit.
Whatever happens, the remake’s biggest success will be reminding us how sorely we need more action horror games. Through efficient use of nostalgia, the Dead Space remake has proven we need the variety the genre had 15 years ago. Its appeal should tell studios how players want more games in the subgenre.
All the rave reviews from players go on to show how badly people have missed the franchise and good action-based horror games in general. Good horror shooting games are not easy to come by, and The Callisto Protocol is one example. Hence, the fans are desperate for some good old Dead Space-style adventures and the remake’s success should implore studios to make them.
Dead Space Is Just The Start Of the Action Horror Revival
You can argue that the Dead Space remake is another rare game in the subgenre, and we won’t see another combat-heavy horror title for a while. But that would be completely untrue, and both the past and the future back it up. Just a few weeks ago, The Callisto Protocol, a horror shooter by the original Dead Space director Glenn Schofield, came out.
Even though it wasn’t perfect like the Dead Space remake, it was something fresh. Now, the Motive studios remake has done one better and given us a perfect horror shooter. So, even though The Callisto Protocol wasn’t successful, it gives us even more variation in horror gaming.
As a result, we had as many action horror titles in 2022 as in the past few years combined. Hence, the subgenre is slowly making a return after the success of the Dead Space remake. The upcoming slate of horror games also backs this fact up.
Several action-based horror games will be released in the near future. One of them is the remake of Resident Evil 4, the title which kicked off this subgenre. The remake from Capcom is going to come out on March 24, 2023.
Besides this, some exciting AAA and indie projects based on the subgenre are in the works. Negative Atmosphere, ILL, Aftermath, and The Day Before are some of the new horror IPs with an emphasis on action. The first is a nifty mix of both Doom Eternal and Dead Space, while ILL reminds us a lot of Resident Evil: Village.
Aftermath is a new IP that is going to be a Sony PlayStation console exclusive and features an exciting story. Similarly, The Day Before is another unique horror game with MMO and combat-based elements. But we’ll have to wait a bit for it as it has been delayed again.
In addition to these games, launching this year or the next, S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2 is also coming out soon. A new Metro Exodus game is also seemingly in development. With rumors already going around of a remake of Dead Space 2, the future of action horror looks bright.
Sure, many more survival horror games are coming too. But that will be coupled with all of these releases, giving us some much-needed balance. And that is all players want in horror gaming.
Like every genre in the gaming world, horror needs variety. No doubt, Survival horror is great on its own accord, but excess of everything is bad. As a result, action horror games are important in maintaining diversity and balance in the industry.
The overwhelmingly positive reception to the Dead Space remake demonstrates how much fans want such games. And thankfully, the future slate of horror games affirms that action horror is resurrecting itself.
Hopefully, Dead Space is ushering in a new age for the subgenre. One where developers keep making new IPs for it just like they do for survival horror. Players love both, and we need more combat-heavy horror games in the industry.
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