Survival vs Defenseless Horror: Which is better?

I'm presenting an in depth opinion on a divided question regarding the type of horror games we all love to play. The question that is being asked is "What do you think is better: Survival or Defenseless horror?"

Well the question being asked will affect the game much more than it first appears. Whether you have a weapon or are left open to attack controls the atmosphere of the game, the actions of the character, the plans and strategies to completing level sections and changes the type of restrictions the game has for both the players and developers.

Survival Horror

With the option to be able to kill or push back the monsters that envelope the virtual world around the character opens up a couple choices that we would not have without a pipe, gun or other form of protection. Now we have the choice to clear out the monsters to further exploration easily, sneak around them and know we have a second choice if we get caught or make an aggressive B-line to the end of the level, taking out whatever monsters get in the way.

This type of horror relies on player skill to survive through the events. But that means that the horrors won't rely in the monster, as much as, what the monster can do during the fights. While the monster would have an initial terror to it's design and may make many uneasy to just look at, if they are easily destroyed they aren't as scary as the less scary looking monster that takes half your shotgun ammo to take down, maybe.

With the option to fight back, the focus would be in how difficult the enemies are to kill or destroy that will greatly effect how scary that particular enemy is. The atmosphere is also different as you won't be feeling the hopelessness of being unable to do anything and instead feel empowered and driven to complete the objective and succeed in the story. This is why you will find bosses and these games almost always in with a major final battle against the ring leader, God, or whatever, whoever is in charge of the events you have just experienced.

Defenseless Horror

Without the option to fight off enemies the game must be played very differently. Now the objective will be based around stealth and not getting caught, knowing that your only option is to run away and pray for a miracle escape route. The horror of these games relies on a mysterious atmosphere and scary looking monsters. Knowing that there is nothing you can do if you get caught is part of the terror of these games on it's own.

Your options are slimmed down to stealth, run, hide or die. Occasionally the game will give you a push back options, like the flare in Daylight, but are only temporary options to help you get away safely. Most of your strategy will rely on observing the movements of your enemies and finding your moment to get away, by them or to the objective locations.

Typically without weapons comes lockers, beds and other places to hide, big rooms for maneuvering and simple objectives that only take a moment to complete, like pushing a button, pulling a lever, collecting a key, etc. The main horror of these games is the hopelessness feeling when it comes to monster encounters and the visual details that create the terror that hunts our character. That's why there is not usually a boss but rather a main enemy that is found stalking you throughout your adventure.

In My Opinion

I personally prefer the defenseless horror to the fight back usually. The atmosphere that surrounds knowing that you can't slip up adds the pressure that makes each moment that much more intense. Being forced to watch my terror in it's own environment as it searches for me in hopes of attacking me.

I do enjoy fight back horror's as well, especially Silent Hill and Resident Evil, but would I be excited to play a game from those series that is made in a first person defenseless horror adventure? Very much so. The monsters from both of those series would have a whole different perspective if I couldn't just pull out my pistol, pipe or shotgun and just wipe them out!

In the end it comes down to preference of the player, events the character will go through and the story line the game falls on. Games like Outlast would be completely different with a way to fight of the crazy enemies, but also games like Final Frame wouldn't make any sense without the camera to attack back at the ghosts.

Both versions of horror are great when done correctly, so if you are trying to decide which one is better to make, remember the pros and cons, make sure the story line matches the type of game play and keep the events believable in accordance to the atmosphere and setting.