Survival and horror games have a lot of overlap, to the point that they even created their own sub-genre (survival horror). In particular, horror games often share some basic features with their survival counterparts, though the reverse is less often true. As developers add more FPS and conventional shooter features to certain horror and survival titles, there’s even ongoing debate about how to define these games.
The core mechanics of a survival game centres on resource management, often incorporating crafting or salvage systems that you can use to help keep your character alive. Minecraft is a popular standout, as is Don’t Starve. And then there are games like The Long Dark, which focuses entirely on survival elements with a dedicated mode that increases the difficulty.
Horror is an even broader category, arguably encompassing dozens of survival titles. Almost anything with zombies, a post-apocalyptic storyline, or loads of jump scares is considered horror. These titles are often psychological, too, and use tension to immerse the player in the game. On the pure horror side, you have games like Amnesia: The Dark DescentAlien: Isolation, and Blair Witch. However, the most popular horror titles tend to fall into the survival-horror side of things, such as the Resident Evil and Evil Within franchises.
Survival examples
  • The Long Dark
  • Don’t Starve
  • Resident Evil (survival-horror)