Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

The survival action genre is a thrilling and exhilarating genre that has gained immense popularity in recent years, especially in the realm of survival horror games. This genre is all about survival, where the player is placed in a challenging environment and must use their wits and skills to stay alive. The genre is known for its heart-pumping action, intense suspense, and nail-biting moments that keep players on the edge of their seats. From zombie apocalypses to post-apocalyptic worlds, the survival action genre offers a unique and exciting experience that is loved by many. In this article, we will delve into the world of survival action games and explore why they have become so popular among gamers. So, get ready to discover the secrets of this exciting genre and find out what makes it so irresistible to players worldwide.

Quick Answer:
The survival action genre is a type of video game that focuses on survival in a dangerous or hostile environment. It is often set in a post-apocalyptic world where the player must scavenge for resources and fend off enemies in order to survive. This genre is popular in survival horror games because it combines the thrill of survival with the horror of facing dangerous and terrifying situations. The player must use their wits and skills to navigate the environment and overcome obstacles, adding a sense of challenge and accomplishment to the game. Additionally, the survival action genre often has a strong emphasis on storytelling and character development, making it a compelling and immersive experience for players.

Understanding the Survival Action Genre

Definition and Characteristics

The Survival Action genre is a sub-genre of action games that emphasizes survival mechanics and exploration. In these games, players are often stranded in a hostile environment and must scavenge for resources, craft weapons and tools, and fight or avoid enemies to stay alive. The primary objective is to survive as long as possible, with the ultimate goal of finding a way to escape or be rescued.

Some key features and elements of the Survival Action genre include:

  • Open world exploration: Players are given a large, open world to explore, with a variety of environments and landscapes to navigate. This encourages players to explore and discover new areas, resources, and challenges.
  • Scavenging and crafting: Players must scavenge for resources such as food, water, and materials, which can be used to craft weapons, tools, and other items. This adds a layer of strategy and resource management to the gameplay.
  • Enemy encounters: Enemies are often present in the game world, and players must decide whether to fight them or avoid them. This adds a level of danger and tension to the gameplay.
  • Skill progression: Players can gain experience and level up, which allows them to unlock new skills and abilities. This adds a sense of progression and accomplishment to the gameplay.
  • Story and lore: While the primary focus of the game is survival, many Survival Action games also have a story and lore that players can discover through exploration and interaction with NPCs. This adds depth and context to the game world.

Compared to other genres, Survival Action games often have a slower pace and a greater emphasis on survival mechanics and exploration. They are often less linear than other action games, with a greater focus on player choice and player-driven narrative. They also tend to have a higher degree of difficulty, with players needing to manage their resources and make strategic decisions in order to survive.

The Appeal of Survival Action Games

  • Player empowerment and agency
  • Problem-solving and strategic thinking
  • Immersive and suspenseful gameplay

One of the main appeals of survival action games is the sense of player empowerment and agency they provide. Unlike other genres where players may feel like they are simply along for the ride, survival action games give players the ability to make meaningful decisions that impact the outcome of the game. This can include choices such as which weapons to use, how to allocate resources, and which strategies to employ in order to survive.

Another aspect of survival action games that is particularly appealing is the emphasis on problem-solving and strategic thinking. These games often present players with complex challenges that require them to think creatively and make split-second decisions in order to survive. Whether it’s scavenging for resources, crafting weapons, or avoiding danger, survival action games require players to use their brains in order to succeed.

Finally, survival action games are often highly immersive and suspenseful, creating a sense of tension and urgency that keeps players on the edge of their seats. Whether it’s the threat of being hunted by dangerous creatures, the need to conserve resources, or the uncertainty of what dangers may lie ahead, survival action games are designed to keep players engaged and on guard at all times.

The Evolution of Survival Action Games

Key takeaway: Survival action games have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering players a unique blend of survival mechanics, exploration, and action-packed gameplay. With a focus on player empowerment, problem-solving, and strategic thinking, these games offer a sense of agency and immersion that is highly appealing to players. From early pioneers like Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil, to modern innovations like The Last of Us and Until Dawn, survival action games have come a long way in terms of their storytelling, mechanics, and player choice. As technology continues to advance and player preferences evolve, we can expect the survival action genre to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in video game design.

Early Pioneers

Alone in the Dark (1992)

Alone in the Dark, released in 1992, was one of the earliest survival horror games that combined elements of both survival and action genres. The game followed the story of a character named Dan, who is searching for his missing girlfriend in a haunted mansion. The game featured a unique blend of puzzle-solving, exploration, and combat mechanics, which allowed players to engage in both stealth and direct combat with enemies. The game’s atmospheric soundtrack and eerie environments also played a significant role in creating a tense and suspenseful atmosphere.

Resident Evil (1996)

Resident Evil, released in 1996, was another groundbreaking survival horror game that introduced the world to the genre’s now-iconic zombie-killing gameplay. The game featured a unique blend of exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat, as players took on the role of police officers fighting to survive a zombie outbreak in a remote mansion. The game’s fixed camera angles and limited resources added to the tension and made every encounter with the undead a nerve-wracking experience.

Silent Hill (1999)

Silent Hill, released in 1999, was a pioneering survival horror game that emphasized psychological horror and atmospheric storytelling. The game followed the story of a character named Harry, who is searching for his missing daughter in the eerie town of Silent Hill. The game’s haunting soundtrack, unsettling environments, and cryptic storytelling all contributed to a sense of dread and unease that kept players on edge throughout the game. The game also featured a unique blend of combat and stealth mechanics, as players had to fight off monsters and other hostile creatures while navigating the town’s twisted streets.

Modern Trends and Innovations

The Last of Us (2013)

The Last of Us, released in 2013, is a critically acclaimed survival action game developed by Naughty Dog. This game introduced a unique blend of survival horror and action-adventure genres, which has since become a staple in the industry. The Last of Us follows the story of a post-apocalyptic world infested with a fungal infection that has turned humans into mindless creatures. The game’s protagonist, Joel, is a hardened survivor tasked with guiding a young girl, Ellie, across the United States. The dynamic between Joel and Ellie forms the emotional core of the game, with their relationship evolving as they navigate through dangerous environments and face various challenges.

Until Dawn (2015)

Until Dawn, released in 2015, is another notable survival action game that showcases the genre’s modern trends and innovations. Developed by Supermassive Games, Until Dawn utilizes a choice-based narrative system, where player choices significantly impact the story’s outcome. The game takes place in a remote mountain cabin, where a group of teenagers is stranded after a tragic accident. They soon realize that they are not alone, as they are being hunted by a mysterious entity. The game’s unique gameplay mechanics allow players to explore the environment, gather clues, and make decisions that influence the story’s progression and the characters’ fates.

The Forest (2014)

The Forest, released in 2014, is a first-person survival horror game that emphasizes the survival action genre’s core mechanics. Developed by Endnight Games, The Forest puts players in the role of a plane crash survivor stranded on a mysterious island inhabited by cannibalistic mutants. The game’s primary objective is to survive, gather resources, and build shelter while exploring the island and uncovering its dark secrets. The Forest’s open-world environment and non-linear gameplay encourage players to adopt various strategies and adapt to the ever-changing threats, making it a standout example of the survival action genre.

The Psychology of Survival Action Games

Fear and Threat

  • Ambiguity and uncertainty

The uncertainty and ambiguity in survival action games create a sense of unease and apprehension in players. This uncertainty can stem from various sources, such as unclear game rules, obscured environments, or unpredictable enemy behavior. By keeping players guessing, developers can build tension and make the experience more thrilling.

  • Monsters and supernatural enemies

Survival action games often feature monstrous or supernatural foes that are designed to evoke fear and terror in players. These creatures may be grotesque, with exaggerated features, or possess abilities that make them seem almost invincible. By presenting these enemies, developers can create a sense of vulnerability and helplessness in players, driving the fear factor even further.

  • Atmosphere and setting

The atmosphere and setting of a survival action game can also contribute to the overall fear and threat experienced by players. Gloomy, dark, or eerie environments can create a foreboding mood, while unsettling sound effects and music can enhance the feeling of unease. Additionally, the use of jump scares and unexpected events can keep players on edge, making them feel like they are always on the brink of danger.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology that explains the motivations and drives of human behavior. It categorizes human needs into five broad categories, which are often depicted as a pyramid. The categories, in order from the most basic to the most complex, are:

  1. Physiological needs: These are the most basic needs that are essential for survival, such as food, water, shelter, and sleep. In the context of survival action games, players must fulfill these needs to stay alive and continue their journey.
  2. Safety and security needs: Once physiological needs are met, players need to feel safe and secure in their environment. This includes protection from danger, stability, and predictability. In survival action games, players must navigate dangerous environments and find ways to protect themselves from threats.
  3. Social needs: Humans are social creatures, and they have a need for social connections and relationships. This includes the need for love, affection, and companionship. In survival action games, players may have to work together with other survivors or form alliances to increase their chances of survival.
  4. Esteem needs: Once physiological, safety, and social needs are met, humans have a need for self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. This includes the need for recognition, respect, and achievement. In survival action games, players can achieve this by overcoming challenges and completing objectives.
  5. Self-actualization needs: The highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy is the need for self-actualization, which includes the need for personal growth, creativity, and fulfillment. In survival action games, players can achieve this by exploring the game world, discovering new technologies, and unlocking new abilities.

By fulfilling these needs, players can achieve a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in survival action games. The psychology of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs provides valuable insights into the motivations and desires of players, which can help game developers create more engaging and satisfying experiences.

Best Survival Action Games to Play

Classic Recommendations

  • Developed by Infogrames
  • Set in a haunted mansion
  • Combines elements of survival horror and action-adventure genres
  • Features a unique inventory system where players must manage their resources and tools
  • Introduced cinematic cutscenes and voice acting to the genre

  • Developed and published by Capcom

  • Set in a mysterious mansion and the streets of Raccoon City
  • Innovated the use of live-action cutscenes and dynamic camera angles
  • Introduced an inventory management system, limited ammunition, and a fear-based gameplay mechanic
  • Influenced numerous other survival horror games that followed

  • Developed by Konami

  • Set in the eponymous town of Silent Hill
  • Features a psychological horror story with supernatural elements
  • Introduced a unique blend of puzzle-solving and combat mechanics
  • Utilizes an otherworldly setting and unsettling atmosphere to create a sense of dread and fear

These classic survival action games have laid the foundation for the genre and continue to be enjoyed by fans today. They have influenced countless other games and have established many of the tropes and mechanics that are now synonymous with the survival horror genre.

Modern Must-Plays

The Last of Us is a critically acclaimed survival action game developed by Naughty Dog. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has been ravaged by a fungal infection, turning its victims into monsters. The player takes on the role of Joel, a smuggler tasked with escorting a young girl named Ellie across the country. The game’s focus on survival elements, such as scavenging for supplies and crafting weapons, adds an extra layer of tension to the gameplay. The Last of Us also features a unique blend of combat and stealth gameplay, allowing players to approach situations in different ways.

Until Dawn is a survival action game developed by Supermassive Games. The game follows a group of teenagers who are stranded on a mountain after a tragic accident. As they attempt to survive the harsh conditions, they must also evade a mysterious creature that is stalking them. The game’s branching storyline and multiple endings provide a high replay value, as players can make different choices to see how they affect the outcome of the story. Until Dawn also features a unique “Butterfly Effect” system, where the player’s choices can have a significant impact on the story and its characters.

The Forest is a survival action game developed by Endnight Games. The game places the player in a mysterious forest filled with cannibalistic mutants, and the player must survive as long as possible. The game’s crafting system allows players to create weapons and tools to aid in their survival, while the game’s dynamic weather system adds an extra layer of challenge. The Forest also features a multiplayer mode, where players can work together to build shelters and fend off enemies. The game’s focus on exploration and survival gameplay makes it a must-play for fans of the genre.

The Future of Survival Action Games

Predictions and Speculations

Technological advancements

As technology continues to advance, we can expect survival action games to become even more immersive and realistic. With the development of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies, players may soon be able to experience survival action games in a fully immersive environment. This could provide a more intense and realistic gaming experience, allowing players to feel like they are truly in the game world.

New narrative and gameplay mechanics

Survival action games are constantly evolving, and new narrative and gameplay mechanics are being introduced to keep the genre fresh and exciting. For example, some survival action games are incorporating multiplayer elements, allowing players to work together to survive against the odds. Others are incorporating elements of other genres, such as survival-focused RPGs or survival-themed puzzle games.

Evolving player preferences and expectations

As players become more sophisticated and discerning, their expectations for survival action games are also evolving. Players are looking for more challenging and diverse gameplay experiences, as well as more intricate and thought-provoking narratives. In response to these evolving player preferences, developers are working to create survival action games that offer a greater variety of challenges and storylines.

Overall, the future of survival action games looks bright, with new technologies, narrative elements, and player preferences driving the genre forward. As the genre continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more exciting and immersive survival action games in the years to come.


1. What is the survival action genre?

The survival action genre is a type of video game that focuses on survival and often involves intense action sequences. Players must use their wits and skills to navigate dangerous environments and overcome obstacles in order to survive.

2. Why is the survival action genre popular in survival horror games?

Survival horror games often incorporate elements of the survival action genre in order to create a sense of tension and danger for the player. These games typically involve a protagonist who must navigate a hostile environment while facing off against dangerous enemies and overcoming obstacles in order to survive. The combination of action and survival elements makes these games particularly engaging for players.

3. What are some examples of survival action games?

There are many survival action games available, including the popular franchises “Resident Evil” and “The Last of Us.” Other examples include “Fallout,” “The Walking Dead,” and “Minecraft.” These games all offer unique experiences, but they share a focus on survival and action that is characteristic of the genre.

4. How do survival action games differ from other types of games?

While many video games focus on action or adventure, survival action games place a particular emphasis on survival and resource management. Players must carefully conserve resources and make strategic decisions in order to survive, making these games particularly challenging and engaging. In contrast, other types of games may focus more on exploration or combat, or may be more casual in nature.

5. What skills do players need to succeed in survival action games?

Success in survival action games often requires a combination of skills, including problem-solving, resource management, and combat abilities. Players must be able to think on their feet and make quick decisions in order to survive, and must also be able to handle the physical challenges of the game. These skills can be developed through practice and experience, making survival action games a great way to challenge and improve yourself.

What is Survival Horror? – The Genre’s History and Defining Characteristics

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