his floor, not cooking homemade explosives. Every act of survival is a major victory, not an excuse for a pithy comeback.
Zombies = Hurricane
The monster is the force of nature. Be it zombies, degenerate bikers, cannibals, Tea Party gun-toting rednecks, it doesn’t matter. In regular horror, you may not have picked the fight but quite often you plan to finish it. Survival Horror on the other hand is rarely about killing the monster. Run and hide, hide some more. Get out and never look back.
Carry the Load
Limited resources and limited choices. Every bullet is a lifesaver, a game-changer. Do you risk effective headshots or hope your centre mass shot will puncture something vulnerable? Another factor is weight. The action hero can carry 2000 rounds of ammo and all the rope he needs, but ammunition in real life is heavy. How much do you leave behind in order to carry an extra coil of rope, or a spare crowbar or lump hammer? And if trapped in a tight space, what do you abandon?
when they were so close to escape.
What Survival Horror isn’t
It skirts close to post-apocalyptica, but mostly that genre features shotgun wielding ex cops, Furyian super soldiers or time travelling robots. What distinguishes the two is focus. Post-apocalyptica focuses on the event and the immediate aftermath, whereas Survival Horror is often months after the fact,
Limited resources and limited choices. “
Action Horror is where there are bugs and monsters and vampires, but you’re armed to the teeth in silver and flamethrowers. Whereas the hero may start as an everyman, they quickly take levels in Badass and become no different from a generic action hero. The Survival Horror hero is a more subtle, challenged character who fights more against the urge to just give in than fanged beasties of the night.
That which we leave behind Survival Guide Speaking of abandoning, a big part of Survival Horror is body horror and dehumanisation. What we do to get through the night, the desert, the winter. Do you cut out the infection? Do you drink your own urine? Do you shoot the slow member of your party to throw your pursuers off? These are all questions you have to make when every choice could be your last. Survival horror tests the protagonists, but some are found wanting. Instead of bringing out the best, it brings out the worst. Petty rivalry over leadership, power, food, who gets to go first up the ladder to daylight, all these can rend a party
I Am Alive: A post-catastrophe American city as the backdrop, a driven survivor as the protagonist. Arguably close to post-apocalyptic horror, but really it’s about survival, plain and simple. Most playthroughs are four to five hours before a bullet is seen, and your character gets tired as he tries to get about the skyline, a constant cloud of poisonous dust that keeps you off the ground level providing a creepy yet believable threat. Giving a random character a slice of bread early on can be a life-saver down the line; Humanity is as
much a tool of survival as archery and climbing. Silent Hill: Weapon of choice is a plank with some nails. The protagonist is tormented as much mentally as physically, and in the end it’s not solving a mystery or slaying a beast, but getting out of that damned fog that drives you on. TV: Bear Grylls: Yes. Survivorman may be more accurate representation of a man trapped in isolation, but its dreadful viewing. Grylls is showing you in simple terms how you would survive each individual situation, not the actual act of survival. Also notice his persistent positive mind-set; Misery has no room for the survivor. Grylls may come across as smug but he has the mind-set of a man who will make it out regardless of the obstacle. The Walking Dead: The first show with the budget, balls and timeframe to make the apocalypse seem like it’s going to be a going concern for some time to come. Film: Dawn of the Dead: Realistically, making for a shopping mall is a terrible idea in an apocalypse. It’s designed to entice people in and rarely has good layout for defensive purposes. But the character’s long game plan, of waiting out the apocalypse, is sound. Bear in mind the film is set over at least five or six months, not just one night. The Road: Dismal, grey, and depressing. A man, his son and a shopping trolley of stuff as the world sputters and dies. 127 Hours: Arm cutting to escape being trapped in a ravine. That is all.
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