In the early to mid 2010s, survival horror as a genre was dead and left by major publishers. But after 2017’s Resident Evil 7, fast forward to 2023, and survival horror is having a renaissance.
Survival Horror’s Rise & Fall
During the early 2000s, there was no shortage of survival horror games. Franchises like Resident Evil and Silent Hill set the standard for how great these games could be. What resulted was every developer trying their hand to make the next horror franchise.
So many gems resulted from that time period such as, eternal darkness, fatal frame, condemned, and the suffering just to name a few. With such popularity it seemed like there was no way down.
However, the 2010s were a turning point for the worst. Franchises like Resident Evil saw steep declines with fans not liking the more action heavy Resident Evil 5 & 6. PT from Hideo Kojima was canceled by Konami, and the 2008 smash hit Dead Space ended after a rather poor 3rd entry.
With so many misses and publishers not believing in the financial potential of the genre anymore, survival horror seemed dead and forgotten.
Survival Horror’s Revival
With no major releases, the genre seemed finished. It was never a situation where people didn’t care, it’s just in a world so ruled by money, the games seemed to have lost their way and instead was chasing cash. All the genre needed… was a spark.
Its spark came in 2016, with the announcement of Resident Evil 7. A soft-reboot of the franchise bringing the series back to its roots. It was first person, horror and puzzle focused. It was phenomenal and it sent a shockwave through the entire industry.
Not only did it revive a lost franchise, it saved the entire survival horror genre. Thus sparking the survival horror renaissance!
Below is my favorite reaction of the RE7 reveal. I’m a massive Easy Allies fan and with Resident Evil mega fan Michael Huber on the set, the excitement of how big this reveal was is truly felt.
Survival Horrors Renaissance
It’s been six years since the release of Resident Evil 7 and its effects on the industry have been felt. Resident Evil 2 & 3 were remade to critical acclaim. Silent Hill has been revived by Konami, with a remake of Silent Hill 2 coming this year and a new Silent Hill is in production.
Currently, in 2023, the year has been dominated by Survival Horror. Dead Space Remake launched earlier this year and it was simply phenomenal. We’ll likely see Dead Space get a new entry in the coming years.
Resident Evil 4 remake launched shortly after Dead Space, and it’s as good as you’d imagine.
Alan Wake 2 gameplay was recently shown at the PlayStation Showcase and it looks stellar, it releases October 17th, 2023.
It seems now more than ever, developers are once again emphasizing survival horror. Indie titles like signalis are attempting that old-school Resident Evil feel. In past years, you would have struggled to find major survival horror releases in a year, but now, 2023 is packed.
Survival Horror Fans are eating good.
It’s safe to say the industry realizes that if you make great horror games, people will buy them. We as players never stopped caring about these games, it was the industry as a whole who needed to take a step back and evaluate what makes these games special.
It’s not micro-transactions or flashy action sequences. But instead, smart enemy design, fun weapons, scenarios that make the hairs on your back stand up. It’s that desire to keep playing even though you’ll have nightmares later. You want to show your friends, you want to see your friends reaction to that scary moment. That is survival horror… and we’ve found it again.