Survival horror isn’t the most popular game genre out there right now, but some of the most well known modern gaming franchises fall right under that category. In order to be considered survival horror, games need to meet certain requirements. These games are typically heavily atmospheric, can contain various puzzle mechanics and tend to de-emphasize combat, instead encouraging the player to explore and escape their environment.
What seems to have happened to a lot of survival horror franchises is that they sacrifice some of those aforementioned requirements – typically the de-emphasized combat – in hopes of reaching a wider audience. So, why not take a look at some of the most notable survival horror franchises and figure out which are still doing it right, and which have lost their way?
10 Still At It: Corpse Party Series
A series that may not be the most well known, what is currently Corpse Party is based off a 1996 doujin soft RPG Maker horror game of the same name. Revived in 2006, the games are known for their brutal violence and intense death scenes.
The series disappeared for a while after the release of 2014’s Blood Drive, but seems to be moving along with the recent western release of Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient. If you’re a survival horror fan and this is your first time hearing of this series, do yourself a favor and check it out.
9 Lost Its Way: Fatal Frame Series
At one point, the Fatal Frame games were some of the best survival horror experiences on the market. With the last release being in 2019, the series seems to be in an indefinite hibernation.
Speaking of, Maiden of Black Water wasn’t exactly the series at its best. The mechanics were stiff and the cast wasn’t really a group you cared all that much for. Maybe that’s why we haven’t gotten a new entry in the series. If the franchise truly is done, it at the very least made its mark on the genre.
8 Still At It: Resident Evil Series
The reason why the Resident Evil franchise isn’t higher on here is because it suffered from a bit of a lull before returning to form in recent years. While the franchise seems to be going back to its roots, there was a period of time where entries in the series were far from survival horror.
Biohazard and the Resident Evil 2 remake served as a reminder of what the series could be. But mainline entries like Resident Evil 5 & 6, along with other entries in the series strayed further and further away from survival horror and closer into the realm of generic shooter with horror “elements." With any luck, the next game in the franchise will take note of its last two entries and continue going back in the right direction.
7 Lost Its Way: Dead Space Series
The first Dead Space had a great dynamic going between its sci-fi setting and survival horror atmosphere and gameplay. The same can’t be said for later entries in the series, particularly the final game in the franchise (so far), Dead Space 3.
Dead Space 3 suffered from what a lot of survival horror titles of the mid 2000s onwards suffered from; it prioritized action over everything else. Whatever survival horror elements remained in the game took a backseat. Though it wasn’t a bad game, it wasn’t the kind of progression you’d hope for.
6 Still At It: Outlast Series
One of the more modern series on this list, Outlast is a great example of modern survival horror. The use of the first-person perspective perfectly sets up gamers for the various jump scares and atmospheric horror elements the games contain.
With Outlast 3 in development, the Outlast games are proof that pure survival horror still sells and can manage to captivate gaming audiences if done correctly. You can bet that you’ll be hearing more from this franchise soon.
5 Lost Its Way: Telltale’s The Walking Dead Series
In a way, the Telltale Walking Dead games can be considered survival horror in the loosest of terms. But the incredibly linear nature of the games as well as the strong emphasis on story over anything else makes it kind of a coin flip.
While the series did start off strong, things kind of got stale sometime after the second season. Formulaic and repetitive, the focus on character driven narratives that once served as such a strong point of the games eventually made them feel stale.
4 Still At It: Pathologic Series
If this list would’ve been compiled a year ago, then the Pathologic series would’ve been dead in the water. But 2019 gave it new life. The original Pathologic came out in 2004 and was a cult hit. It had a unique atmosphere that thrived despite its subpar graphics and inconsistent gameplay.
Initially planned to be a full on remake, Pathologic 2 reimagines the first title. It’s set to be split up into three parts, with part one having dropped in May of this year. Though reception from critics has been lukewarm, fan feedback is just as positive as it was for the original.
3 Lost Its Way: Five Nights at Freddy’s Series
When it first swept the internet and gained its notoriety, Five Nights at Freddy’s was a pretty unique concept, and a welcome spin on standard survival horror genre tropes. Instead of roaming around and avoiding the monsters around you, FNaF made you immobile. You’d wait and watch while trying to desperately stop your enemies from reaching you in your isolation. This all created a tension that perfectly set up the games infamous jump scares.
But with four titles in two years, the games started to grow stale and repetitive. The imagination that made the series so great at first had quickly stagnated. Compare it to any other yearly franchise and you see just why the series lost its way.
2 Still At It: The Evil Within Series
The Evil Within came to be after Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami decided to create a survival horror experience that was closer in line with what the genre used to be, compared to what modern survival horror titles had become.
The results so far have been pretty good. With two well received games, The Evil Within is a modern throwback to what a survival horror game should and can be, with the right development team behind it.
1 Lost Its Way: Silent Hill Series
One of the most popular and significant survival horror franchises out there, Silent Hill very much looks to be dead in the water. This is the series that frustrates fans to no end. After releasing some all-time – gaming, not just survival horror – classic titles, the series slowly began to degrade and drop-off. The mainline series became more and more action oriented and suffered from a lot of the pitfalls commonly associated with the genre in the last decade and a half.
Silent Hills looked to be a return to form for the franchise. With Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro heading the project, as well as horror manga icon Junji Ito contributing designs, Silent Hill had all the makings of a great survival horror title. Sadly, thanks to Konami, the game will never see the light of day, and the series that many horror game fans fell in love with is gone. Instead, it’s been reduced to nothing more than pachinko.