What Resident Evil and Tetris Has in Common

There’s something strangely addictive in zombie slaughtering games. Yesterday I watched Dawn of the Dead movie, and while it’s very bloody (and perhaps not suitable for all ages) there’s still something strangely addictive and thrilling in that survival genre: there’s the atmosphere where you have to be on your toes all the time. Basically the movie plot is that undead zombies walk and try to attack (and eat) everybody they see… and the main characters have to survive.

Resident Evil game series use the survival theme to make the game enjoyable. While I’ve never played a lot of these games, I’ve always thought there’s something fun in shooting those zombies (and this opinion comes from somebody who also enjoys reading Dalai Lamas or Gandhi’s texts – I suppose I try to be pretty open to different things). I suppose there’s something similar with why Tetris is so addictive: more and more blocks come and you have to “survive” – and finally there will be so many blocks that the game ends.

Compare that to some zombie games: first there will be just a few zombies that you can shoot, then there will be more… and more. And finally there can be so many zombies that you might not be able to handle as you desperately try to shoot what you can. This comparison with Tetris is a slightly exaggerated, as these big budget games (such as Resident Evil) usually carry some sort of a plot. The gameplay is based around the survival, just like in Tetris.

Here’s a resent video of Resident Evil 5.

While the video might look like something that we could see in PC, it’s quite interesting that the horror survival genre is concentrated on the console side: Xbox and Playstation have these type of games… but if you look at the PC offerings: almost zero. Zombie themed survival horror games are for some reason published for the consoles.


I suppose the market decides what it can bear, but I’ve seen other survival games that have done quite well (not just Tetris, but even independently developed games such as Shadowgrounds). It’s bit of a surprise that there are no big survival game hits for PC – or at least not many that would have sold loads.

The zombie survival games have a lot of common with famous PC titles (like Tetris), yet for some reason these survival games are often published only for consoles.

Maybe that could be an open market opportunity for indie developers?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Harry, hmm… “couch effect”… that’s so true – but it still doesn’t explain why some other type of games (like mentioned in this post) are made for PC – but not zombie shooting games?

    Orange Brat, true… but HL did have some events where you had to think about what to do – like the sneaky creature that you couldn’t kill – the one that followed any voice it would hear.

  2. I think I agree with the HL games being compared with the RE games in regards to the survival horror angle. I don’t agree that the HL had more puzzles. I recall a lot of reviews of HL2 mentioning the “adventure game-like” puzzle solving in that game, and I even recall thinking a few times that it felt like an adv. game at points (like putting the three batteries in the unit to open the gate when in the car-thingeemathingee. ;) )

  3. Zombie like games are more good for consoles because of the “couch effect”. The gameplay should be suited with the state the gamer is in. I can play a shoot the zombie game for so much time that I can start to look clinicaly dead while sitting on my sofa, but I can’t do that while sitting on a chair infront of my PC…

    I thing this could actualy be a good article for GameProducer Juuso…

  4. Blueskied, aye – tower defense sure is addictive, and relies on the same pattern. Same with Crimsonland (excellent game in my opinion)

    Jake and Toraux: yes… HL at least (in my opinion) was horror FPS… with a strong plot. Sometimes you got the same feeling as in these survival games… but it was perhaps bit different.

    papamook: link edited – I actually haven’t heard about this! Definitely have to keep my eye on their progress.

  5. http://www.l4d.com is gonna kick ass! the movies for it look awesome but reading about it the emphasis on teamwork, penalties for poor teamwork and the AI-director make it a very cool looking game.

  6. HL and HL2 are not zombie survival games. It’s those sort of games (with puzzles thrown in) that are rare on PC. In fact they call them survival horror.

  7. Half Life and Half Life 2 were the ultimate survival games, though a little more emphasis on puzzles then the Resident Evil Series. Both major sellers, so your statement there was a bit inaccurate.

  8. I love the RE games. Completed them all (except for the FPS ones which are not so good). RE4 is the best, it’s perfection. So I’m very excited to play RE5.

    Alien Shooter is a similar theme it’s really good. Of course that’s based on Alien Breed which is based on Gauntlett.

  9. Hi-
    Check out ‘Left 4 Dead’ !!! (PC / Xbox).
    1UP did a good preview video a month or so back.

  10. Well, think about Doom, Unreal (Tournament), Quake or even Half-life. I’ve to admint that these games are triple-a but i guess they’re still based on the player’s survival abilities. May be consoles lack the required hardware for RPG’s and RTS thus the console developers concentrate on other genres?

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