Survival horror is a subgenre of horror and action-adventure video games that focuses on survival of the players as the game tries to frighten them with either horror graphics or scary ambience. Although combat can be part of the gameplay, the player is made to feel less in control than in typical action games through limited ammunition or weapons, health, speed and vision, or through various obstructions of the player's interaction with the game mechanics. The player is also challenged to find items that unlock the path to new areas and solve puzzles to proceed in the game. Games make use of strong horror themes, like dark mazelike environments and unexpected attacks from enemies.
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The term "survival horror" was first used for the original Japanese release of Resident Evil in 1996, which was influenced by earlier games with a horror theme such as 1989's Sweet Home and 1992's Alone in the Dark. The name has been used since then for games with similar gameplay, and has been retroactively applied to earlier titles. Starting with the release of Resident Evil 4 in 2005, the genre began to incorporate more features from action games and more traditional first person and third-person shooter games. This has led game journalists to question whether long-standing survival horror franchises and more recent franchises have abandoned the genre and moved into a distinct genre often referred to as "action horror".