Tuesday marked the release of the much-anticipated Dead Space 3, the third in a trilogy of critically-acclaimed and big-selling series that has spanned this entire generation of consoles’ lifespan. This also marks the third game in a series that I’ve never had even an inkling of inspiration to ever look into or even care that much about, which to some might be a giant shame, but to me has seemed to make sense. Ever since the term originated, I’ve had a certain level of distaste for games within the “survival horror” genre, which means that there are a ton of acclaimed games that I’ve simply skipped over because I don’t enjoy those kinds of games.
It started for me with the Resident Evil games. I tried out the first few games after my friends were raving about them and they just never really clicked for me. The cheap scares, the ridiculous storylines, the completely awful controls, it just all made me want to throw my controller through my TV and never bother with games ever again. Maybe I just didn’t like having to conserve ammunition or just didn’t feel motivated by surviving the corporate-sponsored zombie apocalypse through giant haunted houses and compounds or maybe I just didn’t care at all, I’m still not sure.
Even the more “supernatural” games like Silent Hill have fallen upon deaf ears for me, so much so that I’ve just avoided most games with the tag of “survival horror” since the PS2 days because I’ve grown to understand that my money is best spent in other places, because no matter what, I probably won’t like it. Hell, I’ve even had people ask if it is because I don’t like games that can be scary, but the reality of it is that when I was younger I was pretty obsessive about weird and foreign horror films to the point where it has never been about that, but just my gaming preferences.
Plus there are games like Heavy Rain that definitely incorporate some horror and thriller elements into the plot and I’ve found that game to be entirely engrossing and one of my favorites of this generation. What it comes down to, for me it seems, is that I’m simply not a fan of the tropes that are involved with survival horror and everything that it entails. Survival horror games tend to leave out the camp you’ll find in a lot of horror movies and lay the shock and surprise factor on entirely too thick while leaving you on edge due to music and atmosphere throughout without ever giving the player a rest. Stuff like that is just, well, not fun, in my estimation. If you are trying to tell a good, cohesive story in such a genre, you’ll need tension and release to really make it effective and I feel like most survival horror games that I’ve played have just been tension with no release.
It has dawned on me that with the Dead Space games, this could just be a matter of it being labeled as survival horror when in fact it is more of an action series with survival horror elements involved. Something as simple as a ridiculous label applied to the games have turned me away from them when there is a good chance that I could actually enjoy them. So I plan on embarking on finally giving them a shot while I still grumble at classifications for games and how sometimes, just sometimes, they can be more detrimental than we envision them.