y8 games – In a recent IGN interview with former Resident Evil mastermind and The Evil Within director Shinji Mikami, the ex-Capcom employee spoke about the survival horror genre and why Resident Evil 4 became much more action-focused than he initially intended.
First, we asked Mikami to elaborate on how The Evil Within will return to survival horror’s roots. “Survival horror has become a popular genre, so a lot of people have been making games in that area. But survival horror has become more action-oriented,” Mikami said.
“To me, survival horror is a balance between a scary kind of gameplay and the challenge of overcoming that fear. You get a sense of achievement out of that. The fine balance between those two is what makes survival horror. We’re starting to see that kind of game less and less, so I wanted to go back and make what I think is true survival horror.”
But the survival horror genre has changed significantly over the last 17 years and has adopted more of an action focus. In a game like Resident Evil, limitations on items and ammo would create a roadblock for some players. Perhaps the reason the genre became more action-focused is just because a game of a certain budget needs a big audience – it needs a lot of people to be able to play it and finish it. Is there a way to balance that?
“One thing that I’ve been observing… I’ve been looking at the survival horror genre for a long time. I don’t think it’s specifically because developers want to appeal to a wider audience. I think they just want to make their games more fun, and if they’re reaching more and more in that direction, they’re naturally going to go toward more action,” Mikami explained.
“If you want to keep a great horror game franchise, you have to work with people who really like horror games. If you bring in developers from other places, you’re going to end up with a more action-oriented game. With Resident Evil 4, I intended to make more of an action game – 5 and 6 were outside of my responsibility, of course – but with Resident Evil 2 and 3, that wasn’t necessarily the intention I started with. You can play y8 right here.
They just naturally became more like action games. I suspect that Dead Space followed the same path. It naturally became more about action. When developers think about their players… I don’t think it’s the case that they were thinking, ‘Okay, if we want to go from two million units to four million units, we need to put in more action.’ It’s a more intuitive process than that.”
The Resident Evil remake, a Nintendo GameCube exclusive, was one of the last games made by Mikami that had limitations on movement, inventory, and camera. Can survival horror go back to that? “It’s possible that I could make that kind of game. The Resident Evil remake is actually one of my favorites of the series too. But it didn’t sell very well,” Mikami said.
“Maybe there weren’t many people ready to accept that. Because of the reaction to the Resident Evil remake, I decided to work more action into Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 4 would have been a more scary, horror-focused game if the remake had sold well.”
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