12 Games That Defined Their Genres

The Escapist Staff | 8 Dec 2010 21:00
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Resident Evil

Genre: Survival Horror
First Released: 1996
Platform: Multiple
Developer: Capcom

You're not alone in a mansion on a dark and stormy night. Something is with you, lurking in the shadows, waiting for its chance to reach out and grab you. It's a scenario common to many a nightmare, and the backbone of Capcom's Resident Evil, the game that would go on to define the survival horror genre.

There's more going on, of course - Umbrella Corporation's evil experiments, a horde of hungry undead, and more than a few doors that need a good unlocking - but Resident Evil's lasting appeal lies in its ability to tap into that most basic of human fears: ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night. Resident Evil tapped into the power of the PlayStation to bring a create a cinematic horror experience, using many of the same tricks and cues that movies had been using to scare audiences for decades.

Even though Capcom focused more on sudden scares designed to send your pulse racing rather than creating an atmosphere of dread, Resident Evil was the first game an entire generation of gamers found genuinly frightening. Capcom increased the tension with Resident Evil's save system that relied on a limited number of typewriter ribbons scattered throughout the game; running out of ribbons was as much of a threat as whatever might be waiting just past the next safe room. The mechanics of Resident Evil, as well as the chilling atmosphere, spawned a vibrant series of games and movies. Without Resident Evil, there would be no F.E.A.R., Left 4 Dead, or even Dead Rising.


Originator: Alone in the Dark

Genre: Survival Horror
First Released: 1992
Platform: MS-Dos
Developer: Infogrames

Starting with no weapons in the attic of an extremely haunted house, Edward Carnby had to fight like hell just to get out. That's the simple premise of Infogrames' 1992 classic, Alone in the Dark. While some could rightly argue it trod the same territory as Famicom's Sweet Home, Alone in the Dark's use of polygons really qualifies it as the originator of Survival Horror as we know it today. The combination of suspense, puzzles, and insanely scary encounters has been done better since, but Alone in the Dark was first.

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