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Horror game

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A horror game is a video game genre centered on horror fiction and typically designed to scare the player. Unlike most other video game genres, which are classified by their gameplay, horror games are nearly always based on narrative or visual presentation, and use a variety of gameplay types.[1][2]

Sub-genres

Historically, the classification of video games into genres ignores the narrative themes, which would include science fiction or fantasy games, instead preferring systems based on the style of gameplay or at times, types of game modes or by platform. Horror games is the only narrative-based classification that has generally not followed this pattern, with the narrative genre label used broadly for games designed to scare players.[1] This broad association to the narrative theme of horror games leads to the lack of well-defined subgenres of horror games. Many gameplay-defined genres have numerous games with horror themes, notably the Castlevania platform game series uses monsters and creatures borrowed from numerous horror mythos. In such cases, these games are still categorized by their original gameplay genre, the horror aspect considered a literary aspect of the game.[3] However, there are some specific areas in the broad horror game classification that have been identified as unique subgenres in horror.

Survival horror

One of the best-defined and most common types of horror games are survival horror games. These games tend to focus on the survival of the player-character in a horror setting with limited resources, and thus tend to be more geared as an action game or action-adventure game.[4] A common theme of these games is escape or survival from the equivalent of a zombie apocalypse, with weapons, ammunition, and armor limited. The Resident Evil series coined the term and serves as the prime example of such games, though key conventions of the subgenre preceded the Resident Evil series. Other notable survival horror series include Alone in the Dark, Clock Tower, Fatal Frame and Parasite Eve.

Action horror

Action horror games use action game elements from first person and third-person shooter games alongside the survival horror themes, making them more fast-paced than survival horror games. These grew in popularity following the release of Resident Evil 4 in 2005 and which persisted in the next two titles, Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, with gameplay that focused more on action-oriented combat than puzzles and problem-solving from previous titles (Resident Evil 7 returned to the series' survival horror roots).[5][6] Examples of action horror games include The House of the Dead series, the Dead Space series, the Left 4 Dead series, and The Last of Us.

Psychological horror

Psychological horror games are meant to scare the player through emotional, mental, or psychological states rather than through monsters or other scares. The fear comes from "what is not seen, rather than what is".[7] These games commonly rely on the player-character's unreliable perceptions or questionable sanity in order to develop the story. Through the use of unreliable narrators, such games may explore the fear of losing one's capacity to think rationally or even to recognize one's own identity.[7] Psychological horror games may not depend as much on action compared with survival horror games, instead giving time for the player to explore and witness events.[7] The Silent Hill series, which is also based on survival horror elements, is considered one of the defining psychological horror games.[8] Frictional Games' Penumbra and Amnesia series and their standalone game SOMA explore ethical and philosophical questions, and the psychology, motivations and fallible sides of their largely defenceless protagonists, subjected to mysterious events largely beyond their control. Games with an emphasis on psychological horror may also take advantage of the video game medium to break the fourth wall and appear to affect the player's computer or console directly, such as with OMORI, Eternal Darkness and Doki Doki Literature Club![9][10] Psychological horror games may still be tied to action-based genres; Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person shooter but with a psychological horror narrative inspired by works like Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now.[11]

Jump scare horror

Jump scare horror games are designed around moments aimed to immediately surprise or shock the player when they do not expect it, as well as creating a sense of dread while anticipating the next jump scare. While jump scares may be elements in other horror games along with other gameplay aspects, jump scare horror games are generally limited to this type of gameplay mechanism. They are often aimed towards generating reactions from players, which have proven popular to watch over streaming playthroughs of games. Five Nights at Freddy's is one example of this style of game.[12] Some other examples of jump scare horror games include Dino Crisis, Outlast, and Resident Evil.

Reverse horror

Reverse horror games involve the player scaring others, rather than the player being scared.[13] Compared to a horror game, the player is instead what would be considered the antagonist. Reverse horror games generally involve assuming the role of a monster or villain. In comparison to the victim, the main character has some sort of advantage over the others, such as enhanced vision, greater strength, or supernatural abilities. Reverse horror games may also derive from an original horror game, developed as a sequel or prequel to the original, intended to display the perspective of the titular antagonist. Examples of reverse horror games include Carrion and the asymmetric multiplayer modes in Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th: The Game, in which one player controls the monster or the killer that is chasing the other players.

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Castlevania

Castlevania

Castlevania, known in Japan as Akumajō Dracula, is a gothic horror action-adventure video game series and media franchise about Dracula, created and developed by Konami. It has been released on various platforms, from early systems to modern consoles, as well as handheld devices such as mobile phones. The franchise has expanded into several spin-off video games and other media, including comic books and an animated television series.

Platform game

Platform game

A platform game is a sub-genre of action video games in which the core objective is to move the player character between points in an environment. Platform games are characterized by levels that consist of uneven terrain and suspended platforms of varying height that require jumping and climbing to traverse. Other acrobatic maneuvers may factor into the gameplay, such as swinging from vines or grappling hooks, jumping off walls, air dashing, gliding through the air, being shot from cannons, or bouncing from springboards or trampolines. Games where jumping is automated completely, such as 3D games in The Legend of Zelda series, fall outside of the genre.

Action game

Action game

An action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games, and platform games. Multiplayer online battle arena and some real-time strategy games are also considered action games.

Action-adventure game

Action-adventure game

The action-adventure genre is a video game hybrid genre that combines core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres.

Resident Evil

Resident Evil

Resident Evil, known in Japan as Biohazard, is a Japanese horror game series and media franchise created by Capcom. It consists of survival horror, third-person shooter and first-person shooter games, with players typically surviving in environments filled with zombies and other creatures. The franchise has expanded into a live-action film series, animated films, television series, comic books, novels, audio dramas, and other media and merchandise. Resident Evil is the highest-grossing horror franchise.

Alone in the Dark

Alone in the Dark

Alone in the Dark is a survival horror video game series originally developed by Infogrames. In most of the games, the player controls private investigator Edward Carnby, who goes to investigate a haunted house or town that is full of undead creatures.

Clock Tower (series)

Clock Tower (series)

Clock Tower is a survival horror point-and-click adventure video game series created by Hifumi Kono. The series includes four games in total. The first entry, Clock Tower (1995), was developed by Human Entertainment and released on the Super Famicom in Japan. Human Entertainment developed two more entries, Clock Tower (1996) and Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within (1998), which were released on the PlayStation and localized outside Japan. The fourth and most recent title, Clock Tower 3 (2002), was co-produced by Capcom and Sunsoft for the PlayStation 2. Gameplay in the series generally involves the player hiding and escaping from enemy pursuers without any weapons to defeat them. Scissorman is a reoccurring antagonist and sometimes the sole enemy in the game.

Fatal Frame

Fatal Frame

Fatal Frame, titled Zero in Japan and Project Zero in Europe and Australia, is a Japanese survival horror video game series created, published and developed by Koei Tecmo. Debuting in 2001 with the first entry in the series for the PlayStation 2, the series consists of five main entries. The series is set in 1980s Japan, with each entry focusing on a location beset by hostile supernatural events. In each scenario, the characters involved in the present investigation use Camera Obscura, objects created by Dr. Kunihiko Asou that can capture and pacify spirits. The series draws on staple elements of Japanese horror, and is noted for its frequent use of female protagonists.

Parasite Eve (video game)

Parasite Eve (video game)

Parasite Eve is a 1998 role-playing game developed and published by Square. The game is a sequel to the novel Parasite Eve, written by Hideaki Sena; it is also the first game in the Parasite Eve video game series. The story follows New York City police officer Aya Brea over a six-day span in 1997 as she attempts to stop the Eve, a woman who plans to destroy the human race through spontaneous human combustion. Players explore levels set in areas of New York while utilizing a pausable real-time combat system along with several role-playing game elements.

First-person shooter

First-person shooter

First-person shooter (FPS) is a sub-genre of shooter video games centered on gun and other weapon-based combat in a first-person perspective, with the player experiencing the action through the eyes of the protagonist and controlling the player character in a three-dimensional space. The genre shares common traits with other shooter games, and in turn falls under the action game genre. Since the genre's inception, advanced 3D and pseudo-3D graphics have challenged hardware development, and multiplayer gaming has been integral.

Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 is a 2005 survival horror third-person shooter game developed by Capcom Production Studio 4 and published by Capcom. It was originally released for the GameCube on January 11, 2005. Players control U.S. government special agent Leon S. Kennedy, who is sent on a mission to rescue the U.S. president's daughter Ashley Graham, who has been kidnapped by a cult. In rural Spain, Leon fights hordes of enemies infected by a mind-controlling parasite and reunites with the spy Ada Wong.

Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. It is a major installment in the Resident Evil series, and was announced in 2005—the same year its predecessor Resident Evil 4 was released. Resident Evil 5 was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles in March 2009 and for Microsoft Windows in September that year. The plot involves an investigation of a terrorist threat by Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance agents Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar in Kijuju, a fictional region of West Africa. Chris learns that he must confront his past in the form of an old enemy, Albert Wesker, and his former partner, Jill Valentine.

History

The incorporation of general horror genre themes into video games came early on in the medium, inspired by horror fiction and especially horror films. The earliest rudimentary attempt at a horror video game dates back to as early as 1972, when a Haunted House overlay was included with the first video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, inspired by haunted house fiction.[14] Taito's classic arcade video game Space Invaders (1978) has also been cited as a precursor to horror video games, as it involved a survival scenario where an alien invasion slowly descends and increasingly destroys the landscape while menacing sound effects gradually speed up, which created a sense of panic in players when it first released.[15][16][17] The text-based adventure games Mystery House (1980) and The Lurking Horror (1987) incorporated horror elements through their textual descriptions of rooms.[3]

ASCII Corporation's Nostromo (1981) for the PC-6001, inspired by the science fiction horror film Alien (1979), was a survival horror game that involves escaping from an invisible alien with limited available resources.[18] Another notable early horror video game was Haunted House (1982) for the Atari 2600. At that point, video game technology lacked the fidelity to carry the themes of horror in the technology and was instead wrapped more in game manuals and other presentation materials.[19] 3D Monster Maze (1982) for the Sinclair ZX81, while not containing images tied with horror games, was one of the first games to induce the feeling of suspense and mystery typically associated with the genre.[20]

With more graphical capabilities, games should start to include horror-related imagery, often present in the licensed games based on horror films in the 1980s and 1990s such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1983), Halloween (1983) and Friday the 13th (1989), as well as games inspired by horror films such as the survival horror Project Firestart (1989) inspired by the Alien films.[3] Due to limitations of consoles and computers, these horror images were often limited to cutscenes rather than the animated sprites used in the action-based gameplay as to give the fidelity to the details of the horror scene.[3]

Sega's Monster Bash (1982) was a horror-themed arcade action game that depicted classic movie monsters such as Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and werewolves.[21][22][23] Other horror-themed action games that followed in the late 1980s included Capcom's Ghosts 'n Goblins (1985),[24] Konami's Castlevania (1986),[14][8] and Sega's Ghost House (1986) and Kenseiden (1988),[8] with more violent gory arcade horror games including Exidy's Chiller (1986) and Namco's Splatterhouse (1988).[25] One of the most well-known "haunted house" themed graphic adventure games was Maniac Mansion (1987) by LucasArts.[14] Sweet Home (1989) was a survival horror role-playing video game based on the Japanese horror film of the same name. It was Capcom's first survival horror title, directed by Tokuro Fujiwara, who had earlier designed Ghosts 'n Goblins and later went on to produce Resident Evil, which was originally intended to be a remake of Sweet Home.[26] Phantasmagoria (1995) by Roberta Williams was one of the earliest psychological horror games.[3]

Alone in the Dark (1992), developed by Infogrames and inspired by H.P. Lovecraft fiction and George Romero zombie films, was one of the first survival horror games to bring a more immersive presentation, using crude 3D figures drawn atop a 2D pre-rendered background, so that players would control their character from a fixed camera angle. This allowed the developers to create the necessary sense of tension throughout the adventure game. Alone in the Dark was a global success on personal computers.[8] Sweet Home and Alone in the Dark went on to inspire Capcom's original Resident Evil (1996), which coined the "survival horror" term.[26][8] It spawned the Resident Evil franchise, which defined and popularized survival horror games.[27] Sega's The House of the Dead (1996) was an arcade horror shooter game that introduced fast zombies who could run, jump and swim,[28] whereas Konami's Silent Hill (1999) defined and popularized psychological horror games.[8]

While horror games were inspired by horror films up until the 1990s, horror games were later influencing horror films by the 2000s.[14] The success of Resident Evil and House of the Dead sparked a renewed interest in zombie films by the 2000s,[29][30] influencing hit zombie films such as 28 Days Later (2002), the Resident Evil film series, Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Shaun of the Dead (2004).[31][32][33] The Resident Evil and House of the Dead games influenced zombie films to move towards a more action-oriented approach with scientific themes and fast-running zombies.[28][34]

Horror games also benefited from indie game growth in the early 2010s, since outside of established franchises like Resident Evil, major publishers had shied away from the genre.[35] Series like Frictional Games' Penumbra series and Amnesia series, and Red Barrels' Outlast series captured the type of gameplay from horror games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Parsec Productions' Slender: The Eight Pages took advantage of the popular Slenderman creepypasta, and became one of the first games to gain popularity from viewers watching reactions to online streamers playing the game. The Five Nights at Freddy's series by Scott Cawthon also similarly captured popularity through watching streamers' reactions to jump-scares.[36] More recently in the early 2020s, indie horrors games have found a new aesthetic based on emulating the graphic style of older platforms, such as the low-poly graphics of the first PlayStation console or even pixel art, rather than high realism from modern 3D graphics. Besides capturing a sense of nostalgia, developers are able to use retro-inspired graphics on modern hardware to continue to manipulate the player and surprise them beyond the expectations of the visuals, such as giving the player the idea that the game itself is cursed and potentially breaking the fourth wall.[37][38]

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Horror fiction

Horror fiction

Horror is a genre of fiction which is intended to frighten, scare, or disgust. Horror is often divided into the sub-genres of psychological horror and supernatural horror, which is in the realm of speculative fiction. Literary historian J. A. Cuddon, in 1984, defined the horror story as "a piece of fiction in prose of variable length... which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing". Horror intends to create an eerie and frightening atmosphere for the reader. Often the central menace of a work of horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for larger fears of a society.

Magnavox Odyssey

Magnavox Odyssey

The Magnavox Odyssey is the first commercial home video game console. The hardware was designed by a small team led by Ralph H. Baer at Sanders Associates, while Magnavox completed development and released it in the United States in September 1972 and overseas the following year. The Odyssey consists of a white, black, and brown box that connects to a television set, and two rectangular controllers attached by wires. It is capable of displaying three square dots and one line of varying height on the screen in monochrome black and white, with differing behavior for the dots depending on the game played. Players place plastic overlays on the screen to display additional visual elements for each game, and one or two players for each game control their dots with the knobs and buttons on the controller by the rules given for the game. The console cannot generate audio or track scores. The Odyssey console came packaged with dice, paper money, and other board game paraphernalia to accompany the games, while a peripheral controller—the first video game light gun—was sold separately.

Haunted house

Haunted house

A haunted house, spook house or ghost house in ghostlore is a house or other building often perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased who may have been former residents or were otherwise connected with the property. Parapsychologists often attribute haunting to the spirits of the dead who have suffered from violent or tragic events in the building's past such as murder, accidental death, or suicide.

Taito

Taito

Taito Corporation is a Japanese company that specializes in video games, toys, arcade cabinets and game centers, based in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The company was founded by Michael Kogan in 1953 as the Taito Trading Company, importing vodka, vending machines and jukeboxes into Japan. It began production of video games in 1973. In 2005, Taito was purchased by Square Enix, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary by 2006.

Arcade video game

Arcade video game

An arcade video game takes player input from its controls, processes it through electrical or computerized components, and displays output to an electronic monitor or similar display. Most arcade video games are coin-operated, housed in an arcade cabinet, and located in amusement arcades alongside other kinds of arcade games. Until the late 1990s, arcade video games were the largest and most technologically advanced segment of the video game industry.

Space Invaders

Space Invaders

Space Invaders is a 1978 shoot 'em up arcade game developed by Tomohiro Nishikado. It was manufactured and sold by Taito in Japan, and licensed to the Midway division of Bally for overseas distribution. Space Invaders was the first fixed shooter and set the template for the shoot 'em up genre. The goal is to defeat wave after wave of descending aliens with a horizontally moving laser to earn as many points as possible.

Mystery House

Mystery House

Mystery House is an adventure game released by On-Line Systems in 1980. It was designed, written and illustrated by Roberta Williams, and programmed by Ken Williams for the Apple II. Mystery House is the first graphical adventure game and the first game produced by On-Line Systems, the company which would evolve into Sierra On-Line. It is one of the earliest horror video games.

ASCII Corporation

ASCII Corporation

ASCII Corporation was a Japanese publishing company based in Chiyoda, Tokyo. It became a subsidiary of Kadokawa Group Holdings in 2004, and merged with another Kadokawa subsidiary MediaWorks on April 1, 2008, and became ASCII Media Works. The company published Monthly ASCII as the main publication. ASCII is best known for creating the Derby Stallion video game series, the MSX computer, and the RPG Maker line of programming software.

Alien (film)

Alien (film)

Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Dan O'Bannon. Based on a story by O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, it follows the crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo, who, after coming across a mysterious derelict spaceship on an undiscovered moon, find themselves up against an aggressive and deadly extraterrestrial set loose on the Nostromo. The film stars Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, and Yaphet Kotto. It was produced by Gordon Carroll, David Giler, and Walter Hill through their company Brandywine Productions and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. Giler and Hill revised and made additions to the script; Shusett was the executive producer. The Alien and its accompanying artifacts were designed by the Swiss artist H. R. Giger, while concept artists Ron Cobb and Chris Foss designed the more human settings.

Haunted House (video game)

Haunted House (video game)

Haunted House is a video game programmed by James Andreasen for the Atari Video Computer System and released in 1982 by Atari, Inc. The player controls an avatar shaped like a pair of eyes who explores a mansion seeking out parts of an urn to return to the entrance. The game world is populated by roaming enemies including vampire bats, tarantulas, and a ghost. Haunted House was among the first games to use player-controlled scrolling between large portions of the visual space.

Atari 2600

Atari 2600

The Atari 2600 is a home video game console developed and produced by Atari, Inc. Released in September 1977, it popularized microprocessor-based hardware and games stored on swappable ROM cartridges, a format first used with the Fairchild Channel F in 1976. Branded as the Atari Video Computer System from its release until November 1982, the VCS was bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a game cartridge—initially Combat and later Pac-Man.

3D Monster Maze

3D Monster Maze

3D Monster Maze is a survival horror computer game developed from an idea by J.K. Greye and programmed by Malcolm Evans and released in 1981 for the Sinclair ZX81 platform with the 16 KB memory expansion. The game was initially released by J. K. Greye Software in December 1981 and re-released in 1982 by Evans' own startup, New Generation Software. Rendered using low-resolution character block "graphics", it was one of the first 3D games for a home computer, and one of the first games incorporating typical elements of the genre that would later be termed survival horror.

Source: "Horror game", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_game.

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