Why Masachika Kawata Needs to Deliver Survival Horror in Resident Evil 7

”The horror…THE HORROR….wherefore art thou, horror?”

One of the fondest memories I have from my Playstation days was pulling an all nighter playing Resident Evil 2.

From the intro fmv to empty bullet shells clinking on the marble floor to the empty corridors echoing with Leon S. Kennedy’s footsteps …and the first time that licker broke through the observation glass window!

I had NEVER played anything like that! never experienced such heart thumping frantic feeling while playing a video game.

It was Love…it was glorious! And the words ‘Survival Horror’ were riveted to my brain.

Resident Evil became my life’s blood, and the obsession continued with Resident Evil 3, Resident Evil Code Veronica X on PS2 and finally Resident Evil 1 –The Director’s Cut.

I loved the Resident Evil clones such as Dino Crisis games, loved the puzzles and even those tank like controls became second nature to me…and then Resident Evil 4 finally arrived in the market.

Yes. I am actually not a big fan, and I will explain why.

Masachika Kawata, producer of nearly half a dozen Resident Evil games across various platforms recently implied that Resident Evil 7 will be more ‘back on track’ compared to plethora of Resident Evil games, spinoffs and HD Remakes, which have been around for quite a while now.

The inference is quite easy. Kawata San seems to be aware of one of the most consistent gripe that the long term fans of the franchise have with the series, namely: What happened to ‘horror’ element in Resident Evil? I blamed Resident Evil 4.

Ever since the day it came out I have maintained that even though RE4 is essentially a very enjoyable game that refined and tweaked many such aspects of gameplay mechanics in Action/Adventure games, which have now become a staple of the genre, it was “not” my Resident Evil.

The way I see it when you call a game survival horror it is usually understood that it will be the main protagonist or the players who will have to ‘survive’ all those Gigeresque, Lovacraftian ‘horrors’ thrown at them.

The very limited to the extent of stingy availability of ammo, equally limited inventory space, limited amount of useful items and strategic placement of ‘Save Rooms’ were the elements that both enhanced, intensified and actually justified the ‘Survival Horror’ tag for those games.

Apparently, Capcom thought that was too mainstream so the genre was made to stand on its head.

Those otherworldly monstrosities in Resident Evil 4, 5, 6, Raccoon City, innumerable other games bearing the name Resident Evil suddenly found themselves staring down the barrels of shotguns and hand cannons and even rocket launchers with enough ammo to kick their spiny spindly tentacled behinds back to where they came from with extreme prejudice.

Suddenly, it was “them” who had to ‘survive’ the ‘horror’ brought upon them with armed to the teeth heroes and their co-op partners.

Two burly men or a man and a woman more loaded with weapons than an ammunition depot blasting away at the mutations is “not” survival horror in my book.

Call of Duty may be? But not Resident Evil.

However, for gamers such as myself, who have been longing for the series to return to its horror roots even Kawata San’s vague comments are a ray of hope.

No doubt the fact the Resident Evil HD remaster selling 1 million copies within four months of its release must have been a strong convincing point for Capcom.

Anyway, Resident Evil 2 HD remaster is in the pipeline, and RE7 is promised to be taken back to track so I am happy.

How about you?

Whenever he gets spare time from murdering defenseless giant rats in the basements, Navaid Zafar teaches English Literature and language to unsuspecting youth of the country. His passions include Terry Practchett, beef biryani and Scarlet ...