Surviving Horror is a periodical series about my favourite video game genre, survival horror. With it, I hope to explore how the genre got its start, how it effectively manages to scare us as players, and how it has evolved in term of mechanics, themes, and storytelling over the years.
I’m quite a long term fan of survival horror. My first experience of it was back in 2000 or 2001. I had a friend with a Playstation, and he had it chipped to play copied American games in black and white on a crappy old TV. We’d spend hours doing a level a time in Syphon Filter, Akuji the Heartless, and some of the early Smackdown games. But the one that really intrigued me was the first Silent Hill. We never got far in it. It’s pretty weird to think, but games didn’t come with tutorials back then, you had to learn all the controls from reading the manual. Copied games came with no manual, and you try figuring out that the attack combination is R2 and X. But that opening sequence in the alley, growing darker and darker as sirens blare, leading up to the discovery of a grizzly body crucified on barbed wire was enough to hook me.