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How Survival Horror Had Its Best Year In 2023 | The Kurt Locker

2023 has been a triumphant return for the survival horror genre thanks to remakes like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space. But it isn't just in remakes and the AAA scene where the genre is having its renaissance moment.

This year marks the terrifying, albeit triumphant, return of the survival horror genre. While it's hard to imagine, survival horror has been dormant for nearly 20 years. That is until Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was released, followed with the incredible remake of Resident Evil 2. Now in 2023, it's not only Resident Evil picking up the slack of the genre. In fact, 2023 may mark a renaissance moment for survival horror. Aside from critically acclaimed remakes like Dead Space and Resident Evil 4, the survival horror genre is seeing a massive resurgence in the indie scene.

In this episode of The Kurt Locker, Kurt takes you on a passionate journey for his love of survival horror and breaks down exactly where the genre started, where it lost its footing, and why 2023 is the year of its full-blown horrific and fantastic return.

Outside the AAA space, you'll find an entire library of retro inspired survival horror games capturing the essence and DNA of the genre, leaning heavily into its 1990s aesthetic with fixed camera angles, tank controls, limited inventory, and a lo-fi low artstyle. Games like Murder House, Rewind or Die, and Lake Haven are picking up where the genre left off. Meanwhile, we're seeing an equal rise of the genre in new games like Alan Wake 2 from Remedy Entertainment, which is taking the supernatural action franchise and going full force into survival horror by adding a limited inventory, scarce resources, and puzzle solving.

The horror genre has had a bumpy road since it was coined in 1996 with the original Resident Evil. Since then, whole franchises like Silent Hill paved the way for dozens of "Resident Evil clones" like Carrier, Blue Stinger, Dino Crisis, and so on. The genre was so popular that it quickly became over-saturated and lacked innovation. Inevitably, it was a trend that fizzled out. And, of course, this was a bummer for Kurt.

Along the way, games reinvented the horror genre like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which eliminated survival altogether, and made it more hide-and-seek horror than survival. That is until Amnesia: The Bunker released this year that is now adapting the very principles it abandoned by arming the player with a gun, taking the franchise into survival horror territory.

Even still, a remake of Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill 2 are on the horizon. 2023 could very well be a turning point for a genre that hasn't just been dormant, but shaped some of the most important franchises in gaming history.


00:00 - Intro

00:51 - Kurt's brief history with the genre

02:47 - The lost art of survival horror

03:29 - The dawn of indie survival horror

04:10 - Two revivals at the same time

06:30 - Survival horror is back in fashion

Show Info

The Kurt Locker

The Kurt Locker

Airs Weekly

The Kurt Show is a commentative video essay show on current trends in gaming, and their impact on gaming culture and gamers themselves, told through the lens of its host and writer Kurt Indovina.