Tuesday, September 2, 2014

#EyzTalks - Survival Horror land

Today let's talk about a genre I love. Survival Horror!

I'm a fan of the genre... but even so I have to admit... Most of the genre's iconic series have gone completely off rails nowadays... like all the creators left, the teams changed every game and barely anyone who created those first games are still working on the new installments (which is exactly what has happened). Yes. People seem to have forgotten what most of these classic games have been about.

And now producers are forcing studios to churn in random generic games to conform to whatever is popular and selling now.. instead of, say, simply make new games.

A Silent Hill game shouldn't look or feel like a Resident Evil game and both should neither play to be Alone in the Dark. They all have their own strengths and their own spin of the genre.

How far from their respective original movie template have they gone these last few years?
Let's start with my own cult favorite first.

The original Alone in the Dark had sort of the campy horror tone of B-movie films from the 1980s.

You played as this mustachoid detective who only got more and more badass over the course of the original trilogy. Everybody else died (his mentor, his partner...) as these smart zombie-like creatures took over everyone. The mob, pirates, cowboys, etc.

The first game took place in the 1920s, in a dark mansion. The series always featured these random twisted creatures, intelligent zombies and for the better part, a big influence from HP Lovecraft-ian lore.

If you would narrow down the movies that provided most of the inspiration for the original team at Infograme, I would say it would fall in-between the original darker gory Evil Dead 1, the horrific cabin in the woods of Evil Dead 2 and the over-the-top of Army of Darkness. Basically 1980s quirky horror films.

While you keep that thought and just have a look at the last episode on the Xbox 360 & PS3, you can easily see how many miles away from the roots the series as stranded.

Also I find the way the series' now taking place in modern day to be a detriment to Alone in the Dark. The setting contributed quite a lot to the originality of the first AitD, setting these games in modern day just make it seem like any other horror game out there.

On the other hand of the spectrum, the original Silent Hill games have always been about pure psychological horror.
And by that you need to look no further than the movie that continues to inspire most the installment of the series, Jacob's Ladder.
Even when Silent Hill games are reimagined like in Shattered Memories, they always keep that in mind.
On the other hand some of the more recent episodes have been more action-focused loosing track where the real horror of the series should comes from. Things shouldn't be much explained and instead left to the imagination, playing reality and dreams.

Finally the Resident Evil series was basically inspired by the original George A. Romero's "Of The Dead" series.
Gory splatter zombie flicks. But I would say as a whole, it is no doubt the original Dawn of the Dead that was the sole basis for this entire series. Resident Evil 3 coming the closest to its frenetic rhythm.
And that is where the problems clearly arise. Just compare these roots to the last episodes like Rsident Evil 5 and 6. Capcom seems to have completely lost the purpose of their iconic game series.
The series has clearly lost their roots, the new games look nothing like Dawn.
Now they're basically generic blockbuster action films. I call it Capcom trying too much to emulate the awful Paul Anderson films...
As you can see, some of these games have clearly lost their way.
But all is not lost. I believe there is still hope if they could manage to go back to simpler creepier horror instead of this guns-a-blazin' over-the-top shooter-approach that seems to spread through survival horror.
Heck, just look at small budget/indie titles. Real survival horror do still exist. And some of the original creators still want to explore the genre, albeit outside their long running franchises.
Take a look at Resident Evil's creator Shinji Mikami returning to the genre with his new "The Evil Within". If Capcom doesn't want to explore simpler original formulas for generic third person shooters I'm sure we'll get our fix elsewhere.

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