Resident Evil is a massive franchise, so massive that we’ve seen a dozen films on the big screen and almost two dozen video game titles over the twenty year lifespan of the series. The question is how does the game evolve to keep up with modern horror game trends?
Since 1996, Resident Evil set the bar for the horror genre in gaming, creating staple game mechanics that are still used or adapted upon to this day. As the popularity of the franchise grew, the games diversified and infused several video game genres, branching from the survival horror series it began as, to a third person, action, shooter horror game. At the time, games like Alone in the Dark and Doom had spurred gamers’ interests into genres other than the mainstream action/adventure. Resident Evil used gunplay with a sparce ammo supply to create the suspense throughout the game.
Resident Evil 4 combines both the survival and puzzle side of classic horror games, as well as tricky intense gunplay. However, in a modern time when Call of Duty and Battlefield ruled the gaming market, Resident Evil followed the mainstream into a more action driven game. After a dramatic decline in the horror genre, the series tried its hand at a more action-based shoot and survive style of gameplay and, with the reduction of puzzle mechanics, it resulted in a poorly received Resident Evil 6.
In the 2000’s, the indie game floodgates opened and, with it, came vast amounts of games in all genres, especially horror. Titles like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Outlast and even Slender left gamers curious to find a next generation of horror game. The idea of sanity slipping away can be truly terrifying, especially when you’re losing control and trapped in a building with terrifying creatures and people, such as the idea behind Outlast.
Then along came P.T, which is the terrifying playable teaser of Hideo Kojima’s cancelled Silent Hill game. Its simplicity in gameplay completely contrasts with its terror. Reliving the same horrific hallway over and over is a Groundhog Day gone sour. From gameplay shown of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Capcom must have felt the same fear in going back to a first person survival style of horror game. With dark, close hallways and abandoned decrepit houses to add fear to the atmosphere, there is barely little actually happening, which is the best type of horror. Take Amnesia, for example, which uses eerie music and sounds to make the player fear making any slight movement.
I’m glad Resident Evil 7 won’t be Capcom’s first experiment with a VR horror title. That title goes to a small tech demo of Kitchen, which got much praise from players. All said, with the series returning to its roots as a survival horror experience, I frankly can’t wait to get my hands on Resident Evil 7. And, as PS-VR is still in its youth, hopefully this will be the game that defines the virtual reality experience on the PS4.