Most survival horror games are a mix of two things, resource management and atmosphere. Atmosphere is what really separates a horror game from a normal shooter. It defines the genre.
Survival Horror as a genre would literally not exist had it not been for a game designer by the name of Shinji Mikami.
While the term survival horror came into use in 1996 with the release of Resident Evil, the origins of the genre actually go back much further, all the way to 1980 and legendary game designer Roberta Williams.
DOES THIS CLASSIC ATARI GAME STILL MAKE THE… CUT?
Halloween for Atari 2600 is one of the earliest horror games out there. It actually predates the term “survival horror” by over a decade. It is currently one of the rarest and most valuable Atari 2600 games out there, routinely selling for over $100 for the cartridge by itself (most Atari games sell for around $1). Unfortunately, due to its rarity, age, the fact that it is out of print, not on any digital collections, and on a system that isn’t produced any more, you will have to brush up on your eBay skills to actually play this one.