2023 - The year of the horror remake

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Leon S. Kennedy aiming a pistol across a fiery background in Resident Evil 4.

2022 has been a fairly low-key year for the horror genre. Aside from a few personal standouts like The Callisto Protocol and Fobia: St. Dinfna Hotel, horror fans haven't had too much to test their mettle. Major franchises like Resident Evil and Silent Hill were tangentially active - the former dropping story DLC for Village, and the latter announcing a slew of upcoming games - but aside from the aforementioned examples, it was a relatively quiet year.

Good news: 2023 looks set to more than make up for lost time. In the next 12 months horror fans will be treated to a near-endless ream of exciting horror games. However, all the main, triple-A horror releases for 2023 seem to have one thing in common: they're almost all remakes of older titles.

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As such, I'm going to label 2023 as the year of the horror remake. It'll be a year chock-full of nostalgic forays back to classics of the genre, as well as the chance for beloved but somewhat defunct franchises to get a burst of renewed energy. Whichever way you look at it, horror fans are in for a treat in 2023.

A hooded cult member wielding a chainsaw in Resident Evil 4.

Resident Evil 4

By quite some margin, this March's Resident Evil 4 remake is my most anticipated horror game of 2023. 2005's original is one of the defining entries in the horror canon: it revolutionised the over-the-shoulder perspective, packed its story with memorable characters, and expanded the realms of Resident Evil lore.

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This has felt like an inevitability ever since the 2020 remake of Resident Evil 3, but comes with more hype than any other remake Capcom has produced in the past few years. Resident Evil 4 is the game that many immediately associate with the franchise: Leon Kennedy's floppy hair, Saddler's slew of mutated goons, and those terrifying Regenerators who've haunted gamers for generations.

Early snippets of gameplay look incredibly promising, too. Initially billed as a next-gen-only game, there are some concerns that its subsequent release on PlayStation 4 may bottleneck performance somewhat, but that all remains to be seen. All I know is that seeing this timeless gothic story reinvented for modern hardware is going to be an absolute treat. Now, just to squeeze in one more replay of the original before this remake launches!

Isaac Clarke fighting a necromorph in Dead Space.

Dead Space

What year is this? There were just two years between the release of the original Resident Evil 4 in 2005 and Dead Space in 2007, but both now make a return to centre stage. EA's most popular horror franchise has been laying dormant since the unimpressive reaction to its trilogy-closer in 2013, which was lambasted for its atmosphere-dissolving co-op mode and influx of egregious microtransactions.

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It's back to the drawing board this time around, with a full-fledged remake of the original from Motive Studio. More than just a visual upgrade, Dead Space has been rebuilt from the ground up. Look out for new gore effects, revamped enemy mechanics, and even voice lines for protagonist Isaac Clarke, who was totally mute in the original.

For some, it may come too soon after the release of The Callisto Protocol to land on your radar, but the Dead Space franchise is a big name in survival horror for a reason. It pioneered the sci-fi horror game in the same way Ridley Scott's Alien did for cinema, so its return to the triple-A pedestal feels like a homecoming. Just remember to aim for their limbs.

The protagonist walking through an abandoned asylum in Alone in the Dark.

Alone in the Dark

The last major horror remake of 2023 is a properly old-school one. The original Alone in the Dark game from 1992 was, in many senses, the first survival horror game to ever release. The franchise never picked up the same traction as its flashier and fancier contemporaries, and fizzed out of the public eye after a drab and blurry-looking reboot back in 2008, and an ill-fated online-only game in 2015.

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After THQ bought the rights to the series in 2018, work has quietly taken place on a next-gen reinvention of the series, complete with the 1920s setting and haunted house aesthetic. As with the original, you'll play as either investigator Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood, whose uncle has gone missing in this huge gothic mansion turned asylum. Rather than a direct remake, it's set to adapt plot points from the first three games, blended together to make something slightly different.

Alone in the Dark is nowhere near the same level of popularity as Resident Evil and Dead Space, but it deserves the big-budget plaudits nonetheless. The oft-ignored forefather of survival horror, it's about time that the franchise was properly exposed to wider audiences. Its influence on the aforementioned franchises cannot be understated, so it's only fitting that in a year rife with survival horror remakes, Alone in the Dark is front and centre.

No matter whether you're relatively new to the genre or a grizzled veteran, 2023 is going to be a massive year for horror games. Not even considering the range of new IP that could release this year, from Keiichi Toyama's Slitterhead to Post Fury, announced at the Game Awards, there are plenty of nostalgia-inducing remakes to keep fans busy. I, for one, can't wait to dive back into old favourites, while also checking out more polished versions of horror staples I've missed along the way. Bring on the scares!