May 6, 2020

Metro Exodus And The Appeal Of Survival Horror

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus is probably one of the best survival horror games out there. And as a coincidence, we do have Metro Exodus on sale here at IndieGala. Check it out!

But the popularity of the Metro Exodus and S.T.A.L.K.E.R., raised a perfectly valid question. What’s the appeal of the survival horror genre? Seems like their popularity is as high as ever, but that doesn’t solely apply for video games. Horror survival movies are equally popular as well.

So, in honor of the Metro Exodus sale, we thought that it’s good to take a deep dive into the sub-genre. To explore the themes that make the horror survival fun and engaging. And of course to compare to the best survival horror games like Metro Exodus, Resident Evil, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Are you ready?

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus: What’s the game all about?

First and foremost, let’s break down the game itself. Metro Exodus. It’s a first-person shooter game with elements of stealth and horror survival blended in. Likewise, it’s published by Deep Silver and developed by 4A Games. Metro Exodus’s setting is in post-apocalyptic Russia and Kazakhstan.

Secondly, the Earth (and especially Russia) is a real wasteland in 2036, and the player that’s must deal with the new hazards. Engaging in combat against very dangerous and hostile humans and mutated creatures as well, just to name a few.

Consequently, the player enters the wasteland with an already prepared arsenal, but while on the spot, the weapons can be altered. They can be customized through a crafting system and the good old scavenging for other materials. Another feature is the addition of sandbox environments within the game and a mix of linear levels.

But what about the horror survival, that’s in the core of Metro Exodus?

Metro Exodus: What is horror survival exactly?

To start with, Wikipedia states that it is a subgenre of video games. It’s inspired by horror fiction, and the focus is on the survival of the characters. As the game tries to frighten players with either horror graphics or scary ambiance, it’s up to them to learn to survive within the hostile environment.

Furthermore, the actual term „survival horror“  was first used in one of the greatest survival horror games of all time. The 1996 video game Resident Evil. And the term is actively used in plenty of other similar games as well.

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus: What’s the difference?

In contrast to most of the modern video games, where you have plenty of interaction and engagement with other characters, the survival horror games have very little of that.

Also, while most of the video games allow you to be the strongest, smartest, fastest, the horror survival games are all about the opposite. They take away the player’s power, most of his weapons, and put him in a very dangerous setting.

Hence, the player is very vulnerable, extremely helpless, exposed to the harsh conditions. And he’s an easy target to the dangers that loom around him. Not to mention he/she always has very little resources to survive.

So, what’s the appeal?

Well, for one, survival horror games (at least the good ones) need highly dangerous and isolating environments. In most cases, the setting is in the post-apocalyptic and dystopian world, but not always. And oftentimes there have been some outbreak or highly hazardous disaster. For instance the T-Virus in Raccoon City or the Chernobyl Disaster at Pripyat.

Secondly, horror survival games need a lot of tension and uncertainty. Yes, the environment provides half of the tension and uncertainty for the player. But, the gameplay allows you to experience them as well. Not to mention that it’s set in post-apocalyptic Moscow during the year 2036.

And thirdly, the survival horror video games like Metro Exodus need fear. And frankly, you can find fear pretty much everywhere in this type of sub-genre. Most of the times there are mutated monsters, zombies, and different types of scary creatures. They’re a constant threat to the players, and you can never tell from where the threat is coming. That’s what makes it interesting indeed.

However, there’s the option of scavenging for healing supplies and other survival resources. The ammunition is always a must in such an environment, and the puzzles are there to keep things interesting.  

Resident Evil Remastered

What about the movies?

Regardless of how diverse the setting in the survival horror games can seam, the movies seem to have an endless list of hazards, just waiting for you. Therefore it’s not just about an outbreak or post-apocalyptic setting.

Some of the best survival horror movies feature an alien invasion (A Quiet Place) while others, like Aftershock, feature an earthquake as the main scary event. So the movie doesn’t have to have a supernatural or SF elements to be a successful survival horror movie. Some of them bring realism to the plot, the setting, and the characters.

However, most of the horror survival stories are indeed based on zombie/outbreak/nuclear disaster type of plot. For instance, the Crazies dealt with a virus outbreak similar to the one in Resident Evil. While the mysterious and monster-filled town of Silent Hill was the setting of Silent Hill – the movie adaptation.

Fun fact. Both in Silent Hill and The Crazies, the actress called Radha Mitchell plays the female lead. Cool right? I thought so too. However, The Crazies was a decent remake of the original movie, but Silent Hill was a horrible video game adaptation to the Silent Hill. Oh, well. Hollywood keeps trying nonetheless.

Sadly, the survival horror as a sub-genre is a mixed bag in Hollywood. A hit and miss if you will. Not all of the filmmakers in Tinseltown know how to deliver a decent survival horror movie.

But, luckily there are still decent survival horror video games. Games like Metro Exodus for instance.

John Krasinski Lee Abbot GIF

Your thoughts

What are your thoughts on Metro Exodus? And of course on the horror survival genre both in the video game industry and in the film industry? Tell us all about it in the comment section. We’d love to know all about it. 

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