Survival Horror Surviving The Future

One of my favourite games of all time.

Last week’s announcement of “The Evil Within” had me thinking in a couple different directions.  On the one hand, I was pretty happy to hear that a new IP was being introduced in this genre.   I think survival horror games live in a very interesting spot in terms of user experience.  The range of emotion and the impact on player that they aim for can be quite fascinating.  However, on the other hand, the obvious association made me think of Resident Evil and, consequently,  frown a little.  I think any horror or survival horror fan would say that the Resident Evil franchise didn’t evolve in the way one would hope for.  Moving more away from the horror side and significantly deeper into the action side, a lot of the tension that is implied through the genre's name is gone.  You are left with a quite creative, but mostly action oriented, game.  But surely, ‘Zwei’ would know better, right?

Well, he did release some comments recently that seem to suggest he is not particularly fond of where the survival horror genre has gone.  Phew…so maybe there is nothing to worry about.  Though that brings the question, how do you capture that tension and feeling of dread in a video game, all while keeping it fun and engaging?  The right path to evolution needs to be one that makes the most sense for this type of material.  The goal has to be to take what has worked before and to build on it by further expanding features and technology.  I believe that Silent Hill:  Shattered Memories (Wii) is exactly the type of game where this evolution can start from.  While not perfect, it had a lot of features that made the game memorable.  It scratched and squirmed its way into our hearts through a solid mix of creative controls, an engaging world and direct impacts of player decisions on gameplay.

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