They say one good turn deserves another and these horror games follow their classic silver screen counterparts to become hits.
September 2, 2022
Humans have always been intrigued by death and the supernatural. That fascination is the primary reason horror movie tickets sell like hotcakes at the box office. In 2017, the genre generated $1.1 billion in revenue in the United States alone. Sure, those numbers are an anomaly, but it’s not uncommon for quality horror movies to rake in nine figures in eight weeks.
In typical entertainment industry progression, several horror films were so memorable that they spawned video games. In fact, there have been “horror-movie-to-game” adaptations since the release of the Atari 2600 in the lat 70s to early 80s! Although the early horror games accomplished little to convert the story and characters from the film to the console, they set the stage for the genuinely fantastic horror movie video games that followed.
Before we get into the few exceptional horror game adaptations, let’s first look at the horror sub-genres to help you discern between various types of horror games in addition to your own perspective of the horror genre.
Horror Game Sub-Genres Explained
Horror game and movie sub-genres are similar and yet so different. For instance, horror movies may explore demonic possession and the paranormal as a huge part of the plot, while horror games generally don’t have those elements. After all, no one has ever developed a horror game with such material because it’s nearly impossible to create gameplay around it. Paranormal stuff is more effective on the silver screen but takes a back seat in video games for this reason.
So, what are the most common horror game sub-genres? Take a look:
Survival Horror Games
Possibly the most common horror game sub-genre, survival horror games are a dime a dozen. Interestingly enough, it lacks a specific definition. Logically speaking, any game with a plot that involves someone trying to kill you is a “survival” game. But that’s not always how individual gamers might define what a survival game is.
What’s an excellent way to categorize survival horror games, then? Perhaps a fair way to judge is how effectively it concentrates on the ‘survival’ aspect of the game.
On top of that, the goal of the perfect survival game is not to genocide your way through levels. It’s about decision-making and weighing your options. Of course, there will be boss fights along the way, but most of your time will be spent exploring and solving puzzles rather than fighting.
Some of the all-time classics in the genre are Silent Hill and Resident Evil, while some of the newer ones that should be on top of every horror gamer’s list are Darkwood, Tormented Souls, and Alan Wake.
Action Horror Games
Action-horror games are also one of the most popular types of horror games. While this sub-genre may have survival horror components, these games mainly focus on action elements such as fighting, set pieces, and linear stages, emphasizing less on rewarding exploration.
The gameplay of action horror games is centered on combat. As a result, action horror games lack the depth found in other types of horror video games, although they compensate with gruesome visuals.
Action-horror games are generally fast-paced, so if you’re the type of gamer that likes puzzles and slow burn, this is not the genre for you.
Psychological Horror Games
As the name suggests, psychological horror games primarily scare players using psychological horror components. With a few exceptions, gameplay takes a backseat to storytelling, something that some cerebral gamers want and crave.
While action horror games raise your adrenaline level because of the number of combat scenes, your main takeaways in a psychological horror game are the characters, the story, and its effect on your psyche.
On the other hand, these games have inherent characteristics that may turn off gamers. Their pacing can be painstakingly slow, while their gaming mechanics are limited and janky. They may lack significant in-your-face horrors and less action, with more emphasis on reading, listening, and fitting things together.
Jump Scare Horror Games
The Jump scare horror game sub-genre is the type that gives you the most thrills at first and then fizzles out as you get used to the cheap scare tactics. There isn’t much in terms of characters, horror theme exploration, intricate gameplay mechanics, aesthetics, or the feeling of persistent fear. It’s all about getting the player to react in some way.
This sub-genre can be a fascinating tension and release cycle for some gamers. Scares come quickly and easily, with little effort required from the gamer. However, you’ll probably discover towards the end that it’s more about being startled (like a Jack-in-the-Box that pops right at you) than actual horror.
Stealth Horror Games
Stealth horror games are considered by some as part of the survival horror game umbrella, but there is one big difference. Survival horror games allow you to fight back; stealth horror games do not. The gameplay involves sneaking past monsters from point A to point B.
Horror card games frequently include jump scares or psychological horror components to keep the player engaged. Generally, though, this sub-genre is treading on a thin wire. On one hand, gamers may enjoy the frantic hide-and-seek gameplay; but then again, the gameplay can be highly tedious and restricting, which could leave gamers bored instead of terrified.