With Resident Evil recently reaching its 20th birthday, I thought I’d do some celebrating. Not my normal type of celebrating though because let’s be honest, this article would be incoherent, take me four hours to write and would probably be quite ranty. Yes, ranty is a word. Or at least, it is in my head.
To set the tone, when people ask me what my favourite game is (The Last of Us) aside, I tend to think in franchises rather than singular titles. Step up, Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil.
You were almost a Jill sandwich!
Everyone has a game that made their childhood and for me, it was Resident Evil 2. I didn’t even buy it myself. It was a Christmas present from my parents and as soon as I saw the “This game contains scenes of explicit violence and gore” message, I was pretty much hooked.
Following that message and the ominous voice telling you you’d started the game, was the opening cut scene. It was probably the first CGI one I’d seen and it blew me away. In 1998 it looked special. It was like watching a movie that threw me into the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
The gameplay itself was fun, challenging and at times jumpy as hell. From the arms smashing through the boarded up windows to the Licker jumping through the one way mirror, I was constantly kept on my toes.
I lost count of the times I completed that game, and to a lesser extent Nemesis and Resident Evil 1 but my love for survival horror had been firmly established.
But what of its legacy.
Looks like we got to the… ROOT of the problem.
There’s been a raft of Resi games released by Capcom and for a franchise that I consider my solemn duty to defend, there have only probably been 5 good ones and even that’s up for debate.
Res 1-3 (I’m counting the remake in here) is undoubtedly the best gaming trilogy that’s ever been released. Stop arguing, it is. Res 4 redefined Survival Horror and Res 5 continued in that slick, over the shoulder mould.
The rest, I can take or leave.
I hope this isn’t Chris’ blood
What the franchise did do though was let developers know that there was a real thirst for games that make us jump. From Silent Hill to Outlast, gamers like to feel fear in a way that horror movies just can’t deliver. You’re not simply watching someone battling demons, you’re battling them yourself.
For me, I just can’t do it anymore. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve just turned 30 or the games have become more terrifying but I barely make it 30 minutes into survival horror games these days.
I tried to play Dead Space about 4 times but my heart just couldn’t take it. Outlast? Don’t even bother. Despite my apparent unease with such games, there’s still a huge market. The Evil Within scored strongly with critics and fans and Alien Isolation likewise.
I just think I want an easier ride these days. I recently played Firewatch and it was a beautifully written, consuming game that had its fair share of jumpy moments. It was just enough to get the heart pumping and keep me on edge without running the risk of hospitalisation due to cardiac arrest.
I think the point I want to make is that Survival Horror, as a genre, is still fighting fit and the outcry of sadness when Silent Hills got cancelled is testament to that.
Jill, here’s a lock pick. It might come in handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you.
With such strong reviews for recent titles, Survival Horror shows no signs of dying (an obvious pun but I don’t regret it for a second), especially with the introduction of Playstation VR.
I’ve not looked into VR too much but I can just imagine the possibilities for scare based games. The immersion would be unreal and I can see the genre really taking VR by the scruff of the neck and making it its own.
And what started it all? Resident Evil. It brought Survival Horror to the mass market, made the genre popular (and profitable) and defined a generation for gamers.
Happy birthday Alpha Team!
(I’d wish Bravo Team happy birthday too, but Rebecca aside, they’re all dead).