With the 20th anniversary of Resident Evil coming up this year and Capcom partially celebrating it with the release of its remastered version of Resident Evil 0, it’s a natural time to start thinking about where the franchise that popularized horror in video games has gone and where it might go. The first episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 was one of the things I snagged during the last winter Steam sale and I just finished it up. It’s almost what I’d like a modern RE game to be, but some of its decisions have me convinced today’s Capcom just can’t get away from modern blockbuster video game trends.
I actually don’t remember a whole lot about the first Revelations game which I played through within a rental of the 3DS version, other than the final boss being really tough. The one main sense I and seemingly most people get from both games is that they are mergers of the puzzle-and-exploration focus of the older RE games and the action focus of the newer entries. They’re sort of a bone Capcom is throwing at longtime fans, but in my opinion if Capcom is going to do that, why keep the influences from the newer games? Why not just go all the way and make Revelations a brand new RE in the older style?
This problem bugs me so much because what I really want is a specific style of survival horror game that no one seems to be interested in making. I miss the adventure game structure of older survival horror games like Resident Evil 2 or Silent Hill 2, but I’d like to see them without the antiquated tank controls or fixed camera angles of their era. I don’t think those specific user interface quirks are necessary to create tension and fear. The whole reason RE series creator Shinji Mikami and the rest of Capcom decided to change the series so much is because it was getting stale. I get that it needed to evolve, I just wanted to see it evolve in a different way. I say this despite Resident Evil 4 on its own being one of my favorite games of all time.
That game I want can be sensed palpably within Revelations 2. Part of me appreciates the game for willing to put players in a map and let them explore and figure things out instead of dropping waypoints everywhere. I like the way it modernizes a lot of classic adventure game presentation elements too. Instead of stopping the game for a text prompt saying “the door is locked” or “you’ll have to find a way around,” characters will just say these things or the prompts will show up on the screen without stopping the game. It’s aware modern hardware can handle bigger environments between loading screens and how that means bigger areas to explore for larger-scale puzzles. The game also maintains a focus on a lower number of more dangerous enemies compared to other recent entries in the series. At times Revelations 2 feels like what an adventure game should be on modern hardware, which is a pleasant surprise coming from Capcom.
I just wish Capcom didn’t feel the need to make practically all its games balanced around co-op. That’s my biggest problem with modern RE games today — Capcom refuses to make a singleplayer one. Resident Evil 6 has four story modes but only the hidden one is balanced around singleplayer, and the whole game is permeated by an elaborate online mode with its own social network “RE.net,” which Revelations 2 also connects to. Oh, and returning character Barry Burton has got the full video-game-dad thing going on in this game. From just the first episode I can see his side of the story is going to be Capcom’s own little attempt at Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us (the latter being a fairly good game to look at for modern user interface possibilities for RE).
I get that RE is Capcom’s flagship franchise and the games need to make big money. I’m fine with the main numbered games being action games from here on out. I think RE6’s core gameplay mechanics can definitely be salvaged into a legitimately great sequel if Capcom is careful with the encounter design and pacing. I just think it would be nice if Capcom put something on the side to show fans it hasn’t forgotten where the franchise came from.
The HD remasters are the bone Capcom is throwing to those fans, and so is the announced total remake of Resident Evil 2. The big question is over how much the RE2 remake will be like the original version versus the newer games. I’m on the side that thinks recreating all of RE2’s art assets from absolutely nothing will be too expensive for a game with tank controls and fixed camera angles in today’s world, and that Capcom will need the RE2 remake to sell to a somewhat bigger audience than the one that’s buying the other HD remasters. I think we’ll see a Final Fantasy 7 Remake situation, but I could be wrong.
Maybe if the RE2 remake is a success Capcom could see a slightly larger market for RE games of the older style making a return. I’m not counting on it though.
You know what might be the closest thing I’ve played to what I’m really looking for? The Siren series. I haven’t played it in ages but I remember the demo for Siren Blood Curse feeling like a very modernized classic survival horror game. Even the original PS2 game feels much more third person-oriented than classic Resident Evil or Silent Hill.
The best hope for classic-style survival horror today lies in indie developers at this point, the ones able to make games like Amnesia and SOMA. Personally though I’ve had about enough of these first person hide n’ seek games designed to get YouTube views. Even Alien Isolation was a little bit too much of that for my taste. Frictional Games may have felt the same way because SOMA feels like it’s not even really interested in being a hide n’ seek game — just a modern adventure game. I’ve already mentioned it after earlier posts, but a game classic survival horror fans need to be looking at is Song of Horror. It looks like its trying to be the original Resident Evil but with modern graphics and without weapons.
- Some nice art: http://pigeon666.tumblr.com/
- Another guide to Lupin III: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/cms/.98031
- Google made a machine that can beat people at Go: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2016/01/27/google-just-mastered-a-game-thats-vexed-scientists-for-decades/
- Akira TV adaptation being studied: http://dlvr.it/KKLtFg
- The first Japanese-born Sumo champion in a decade: http://www.japanator.com/japanese-born-sumo-wrestler-wins-first-tournament-in-ten-years-34716.phtml