The man dubbed as “the father of survival horror”, Shinji Mikami, has returned to direct Tango Gamework’s horror game “The Evil Within”, known in Japan as “Psychobreak”. With the survival horror genre being in a rut for several years now, it fills me with great joy to see that Shinji Mikami has come back to direct a horror game that looks like a cross between “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill”. The two survival horror franchises are heavyweights in the gaming industry, including some of the greatest video games of all time. So to say that “The Evil Within” looks like a mixture of the two is definitely a compliment, even if the latest “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill” games have been less than impressive.
“The Evil Within” has just received its official trailer, where we see Detective Sebastian Castellano and his partner rush to the scene of a gruesome murder. The trailer shows off that the game will indeed have elements of psychological horror, as well as action-horror. Although there will be weapons in the game, it looks far from what the “Resident Evil” franchise has become today, an action-packed zombie shooter. While as gamers, we all enjoy the generic shooters and adventure games but it is safe to say that the survival horror genre, which was once one of the biggest genres in gaming, might be returning to prime form once “The Evil Within” hits the shelves. Now while it may not live up to the high expectations of horror lovers, many of us are already expecting the game to spawn several sequels, but it is way too early to tell.
When the first “Resident Evil” video game was released it shocked and surprised gamers around the world. It was different from anything seen before and it used several elements of horror in a very unique way, making for one memorable survival horror game with well added elements of an action-shooter. Several games followed in those footsteps, like “Resident Evil 2″ and “Resident Evil 4″, but lets not forget that the franchise has also seen its share of bad days. “Resident Evil 5″ and “Resident Evil 6″ are the games from the franchise that most fans were not too happy about as they felt that the games focused too heavily on action, rather than the horror elements the series became known for. Although the games were well created and enjoyable, the fact that horror elements were almost entirely forgotten about definitely broke the hearts of fans around the world. It looks as if Capcom has never heard of this quote: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
While “Resident Evil” was/is known for survival by force and weaponry, “Silent Hill” has always been known for survival by desperation and psychological strength. To say that the franchise is known for its psychological horror aspects would be an understatement, as the “Silent Hill” franchise defined the meaning of psychological horror in gaming. The first “Silent Hill” game showed how a simple video game could be carried by a strong and powerful story, with atmosphere and horror elements that rivaled some of the greatest horror films of all time. “Silent Hill 2″ was soon released, instantly becoming a hit and a must-play for any gamer, with gameplay/storytelling that was emotional, heart-wrenching, as well as scary beyond belief. There were a couple of other notable games in the franchise, “Silent Hill 3″ being one of them, but there has been a number of disappointments in the series as well. “Silent Hill: Downpour” was frowned upon in more ways than one, as it did not only fail as a survival horror game, it was poorly created in general. That is not all though as “Silent Hill: Book of Memories” was the next title to be released, but while fans were expecting something great, they got a pathetic excuse of a horror game instead. If “Silent Hill: Downpour” was a disappointment, “Silent Hill: Book of Memories” was embarrassing, ridiculous and inappropriate.
“The Evil Within” looks like it could bring the survival horror back in a major way, and while other games have held it alive, it is time for the genre to pick up the pieces of shattered hope and expectations. The game has a good graphics engine, solid storyline, as well as horror that will make some of us scream like a little girl. While a good amount of information has been released regarding the game, the most important thing to know is that Shinji Mikami is directing it, a man who could have saved “Resident Evil 5″ and “Resident Evil 6″, would he have been the director. A splash of horror here, a splash of action there, if there is one thing we know about Shinji Mikami it is that he rarely disappoints. Even though looks may be deceiving, the hopes are sky-high for a solid survival horror game that gives the fans what they want, but will it really be able spawn a franchise like the two heavyweights above? I guess that remains to be seen.
Even though the game looks like a mix between “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill”, it is crucial to remember that we should still critique the game based on what it is and not what it could or should be. With the recent gameplay video and trailer, we should all see the potential in this game, even if there might still be some questionable elements in it. Whether you like survival horror or you don’t, many well-known developers in the gaming industry don’t have the guts to try and create a horror game because of the risk and potential monetary loss. Although shooters and adventure games are mainstream because they cater to all age groups, horror games are usually not purchased by people appalled by gore and horror, or children. Meaning that there is definitely a risk in creating a horror game as it might not sell as well as expected. Nonetheless, the reward is high when creating a solid survival horror game, something “Resident Evil”, “Silent Hill” and “Dead Space” have proven time and time again. Time will tell whether or not “The Evil Within” is the next great horror game, or will it fall into the shadows like many have before it.
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