Fodders Favourite: Survival Horror Game

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Survival horror, as I understand it, is typically (but not always) a sub-genre of action-adventure. It’s also a very popular game type in it’s own right – one that some say has lost it’s way over the years. The trouble with this genre for me is, I happen to be a massive pussy. Some of gamings greatest games fall into this genre, many of which I’ve played, but very few of which I have completed (due to the whole being a pussy thing).

As I don’t really feel it’s fair to choose a title that I’ve not played all the way through, this instantly culls some of genres biggest names. The list is pretty shameful as it starts right from the original Resident Evil game, through to more recent hits like the Last of Us and ZombiU. I always start them and usually appreciate them, but as time goes on, they tend to leave me feeling lonely and depressed – which isn’t really a sensation I look for in a game.

This left me little to chose from, so I was going to go with Dino Crisis 2 – who’s survival horror credibility is questionable over the original game – but then I remembered (Google searched) S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl. Most sites list this game as simply a “FPS”, but as the gameplay is all about survival and scary shit (horror), then I think it counts.

The Oil of Olay clearly wasn't working

The Oil of Olay clearly wasn’t working

What S.T.A.L.K.E.R excels at is creating a truly foreboding atmosphere. The sense of danger never really leaves you, despite the fact that enemy encounters are actually quite rare, when compared to other games. The way the game seems to achieve this is by making the dangers much more elusive than what you usually expect. Radiation is all around you, presenting a threat you know is there, but cannot see. The warning only comes after you’ve blindly stumbled into a deadly pocket of it and your geiger counter springs franticly to life. Similarly, you can also find yourself unexpectedly caught in the midst of one of the many random and potentially deadly anomalies that litter the zone alienation.

The games more tangible enemies can be just as problematic though. To name but a few; Snorks leap out at you, psy-dogs create waves of illusionary copies of themselves that are able to attack you, bloodsuckers are almost invisible to the naked eye and controllers can take over your mind! Other than possibly the human enemies, it’s like everything in this game is setup to put you off balance. This means that when the shit inevitably hits the fan, it does so in a big and confusing way. You’ll find yourself in desperate retreat, spraying the walls with bullets as you try and get a grip on the situation, only to have your gun jam up on you.

It can be a seriously nerve racking experience, even more so at night and all intensified by the games excellent use of sound. The constant use of background noise helps to augment the effects of the hidden dangers. Much of the time you’ll hear far off noises that never actually materialise into anything, but serve to remind you of the danger that is out there and keep you on the edge of your seat.

New pants please

New pants please

As a self proclaimed pussy, this is all sounds like the thing of nightmares. However, and the reason I think I can tolerate this game, the zone also has a few safe havens dotted around. In these areas there are people you can chat to, trade with, often get missions off and even have a sing-a-long around a camp fire with. It helps break up the intensity and loneliness, when I’d otherwise be reaching for the eject button.

Given my personal feelings on the genre, any endorsement by me could inadvertently discredit a game as a decent survival horror. In the case of S.T.A.L.K.E.R though, I really don’t think you can lose out either way.

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3 Comments

  1. STALKER was a game that I always wanted but as a non-PC gamer I missed out on it. There was a rumour of a console release a while ago but I think that faded away. Gutted.

    Reply
  1. Fodders Favourites | Fodders Gaming Blog

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