Resident Evil’s Move Away From Horror Means I Won’t Be Playing
So I wonder if and for how many players the change in Resident Evil’s focus is a turn off, producing the opposite effect than what Capcom is hoping to achieve. I haven’t played the Resident Evil 6 demo, but I have watched Game Front’s Mitch Saltzman play it over at our YouTube channel, and I’m just not impressed. Resident Evil 6 has three campaigns and none of them looks engaging. One even has players fighting off bad guys carrying guns (who then mutate…kay). I have that game. It’s called “Every Other Game on the Market.”
The other major downfall, I think, of Resident Evil 6 is its attempt at having it both ways — it wants to be an action game, but players expect horror elements. The result is hardly a horror title, though there are a few cool bits that I’m glad are included in the demo, like real zombies and Leon’s unwillingness to shoot his zombified friends. But all three campaigns, though they’re meant to embody different ways of playing through the game, it appears, have all the same fatal flaws. In two words: other people.
Horror movies aren’t just a niche genre in the film world. Often, they bring in lots of money and, especially lately, can require surprisingly little to make. And while horror in movies is established, horror in games seems to struggle at every step, carving a rut out of the pile of Call of Duty clones and hopefuls to be lauded by a small group of people who like scares.
The really unfortunate thing is that horror may be the one genre in which gaming is superior to just about any other type of media. A horror movie is vicarious; a horror novel imaginary. A horror video game, done well, is f–king frightening, as close as one can get to some of those scares without actually living through a real-life slasher film.
Maybe the trouble with the horror genre for Capcom isn’t that survival horror doesn’t sell as well as straight shooter-clones, but that the horror genre hasn’t been sufficiently cultivated in gaming. It’s still on life support, a premature baby closed in an incubator, receiving only occasional sustenance from the biggest developers and subsisting on smaller offerings from indie ones. Dead Space has the same trouble that Resident Evil does: it gained its fame by being scary and is now heading down the path of emulating the rest of the industry, rather than pushing the envelope with what made it so beloved in the first place.
Many, many players love Resident Evil not because of the shooting, the puzzles, or even the story. Those elements on their own have never been what the game was all about. But add them with the atmosphere of looming dread, the knowledge that every bullet counts, the unspeakable and sometimes unkillable horrors you know are waiting for you and that you suspect you can’t beat, and Resident Evil becomes one of the best-loved franchises in gaming. I fear Resident Evil 6 has failed to stay true to the players and ideas that got it to where it is today. And I fear that, if the game really is what it looks like in its demo, I won’t be playing this RE title, either.
Hopefully that’s the part that really scares Capcom.