Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can bring new and interesting perspectives. When you look at the same thing for so long, it can get difficult to see its flaws, and while this can be said for many things, it’s especially true for video games. Getting a fresh perspective can be a great way to make sure a series stays engaging, to keep it from becoming stale and predictable. Franchises like Resident Evil and Silent Hill have each had games developed by studios other than the one that created them, and while the results have been a mixed bag, some of these partnerships have led to incredible games.
With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of six game developers that I think are universally great and matched them with a horror franchise I feel they could make an incredible game for. Check out my picks after the break, and feel free to comment with your own dream matches!
Ninja Theory – Silent Hill
I wish Vatra, the studio that developed the fantastic Silent Hill: Downpour could return to the franchise, but I can’t see that happening any time soon. I also don’t see Konami picking up the reins again, so that leaves us with the only other option: a new studio. My pick? Ninja Theory, of course, and here’s why.
When you think of the staples of the Silent Hill franchise, the visuals, music, and characters are the first things that come to mind, right? If games like Heavenly Sword, Enslaved, and DmC: Devil May Cry have proven anything, it’s that these departments are areas in which Ninja Theory excels. They’ve brought us some of the most beautiful games of this generation, colorful games that aren’t afraid to be vibrant and different.
I’m also a huge fan of their ability to create emotional, realistic characters.. Nariko and Kai, Monkey and Trip, Dante and Kat — their characters are unique and the relationships are genuinely interesting to follow. Of course, a Silent Hill game isn’t a Silent Hill game at all without twisted, nightmare-inducing creatures for you to fight, or perhaps more often, to run away from. Some of the enemies from DmC look like they could’ve been starred in a SH game. There’s one boss in particular that’s essentially a giant, bulbous baby monster with its mom attached to it by an umbilical cord. It’s gross, and awesome.
Naughty Dog – Resident Evil
This was a difficult pairing to make. I mean, on one hand, I’d like to see Capcom develop a good Resident Evil game, because they’ve proven more than capable of successfully rebooting their franchise before with Resident Evil 4. Unfortunately, I don’t think Capcom understands horror as well as they did ten, or even five years ago. The “scares” in Resident Evil 6 are sloppily set up and the characters aren’t interesting enough for me to care about them.
This is why I believe Naughty Dog could very easily be the dream studio to breathe new life into Capcom’s ailing franchise. For one, as they’ve proven over and over again in the Uncharted trilogy, they understand action. They understand spectacle. They also know how to make simple characters interesting. Nathan Drake isn’t particularly deep, I mean, he’s supposed to be a likable guy, and I might’ve been able to fall for that if he didn’t spend a majority of the game murdering hundreds of men. The Uncharted games are serious, but they have a light side, and adventurous side. Resident Evil needs that.
Arkane Studios – Condemned
First off, if you haven’t played Dishonored, you should really get on that already, because once you do you won’t even need to read this to know why Arkane would make an intensely good Condemned game.
In case you didn’t know this already, Arkane already has some experience in the horror genre, as they were the studio behind the cancelled Half-Life 2: Episode 4, better known as Return to Ravenholm. When I imagine what RtR could’ve played out like, the images that come to mind are very similar to Condemned. Dark alleys, tall buildings obstructing a night sky, visceral in-your-face combat, an ear-piercing scream that comes from somewhere, but you can’t tell where… that would’ve been great, right?
Arkane made one of the best first person games of the year; they understand how your character should move, how they should fight. At its core, Condemned is a first person brawler. Whether you’re beating down crazed hobos, malevolent ink monsters, whatever — if it didn’t feel good to slam that guy/thing’s face into the wall before you curb-stomped it (for good measure), then it wouldn’t have been a good game. Dishonored has many of the same mechanics, and more than that, it had a brilliantly crafted world that was full of details and stories that only the most observant players would’ve noticed.
Grasshopper Manufacture – F.E.A.R.
Admit it, F.E.A.R. is wacky as hell. It started out serious and gruesome, but that was back in 2005, and since then, you could say it’s gone off the rails. A pregnant psychic chick whose contractions send shockwaves throughout an entire city? Your dead, superpowered brother who helps you out even though with that velvety voice of his he’s be better suited as a radio host? The weird hell monsters that enter the real world via some sort of hell dimension? The soldiers who have technology that allows them to use lightning to teleport in reinforcements? If you had listed those back in 2009 and told me they’d appear in the next F.E.A.R. game, I would’ve asked if you had F.E.A.R. confused with a Platinum Games title before burning you at the stake for being a time witch.
The whole “creepy unkillable little girl with the black hair draped over her face” bit was inspired by the Onryō, a terrifying legend taken from Japanese folklore, so why not give it to a developer that understands those legends better so we can try and make Alma scary again? Now she’s just a creepy rapist — yeah, in case you forgot or your mind tried to block it, she forces herself on you in Project Origin. Grasshopper loves making strange, yet somehow brilliant games, and they’ve even tackled the horror genre, albeit lightheartedly with Shadows of the Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw.
Telltale Games – Alone in the Dark
Telltale Games made The Walking Dead: The Game, and while I’m sure you’re well aware of this by now, I loved that game. I don’t know what they’re planning on digging into next, outside of an all-but-confirmed second season of TWD, but I’d very much like to offer an idea: how does an old-school Alone in the Dark game sound? The last game wasn’t very good, but I don’t want to see the forefather of the survival horror genre to fade into obscurity (though, sadly, I think that’s already happened) and I know a studio like Telltale would do amazing things with the series.
I imagine it’d play much like their Walking Dead game. Hell, I’d even prefer a digital-only episodic structure, the latter of which the failed reboot introduced to the series back in 2008. There wouldn’t be an emphasis on combat, it’d be more about story, survival, and exploration — all things Telltale does extraordinarily well.
Honorable Mention: A Telltale developed Clock Tower, and much like Alone in the Dark, I’m talking about the original Clock Tower. You know, the one where you’re helpless and being chased by a mad man with an horrifying pair of shears.
Remedy Entertainment – Fatal Frame
Honestly, what I want from Remedy is a sequel to Alan Wake, and I want that right now. However, I’d also take a Remedy-developed Fatal Frame. Remedy did something really interesting with its Alan Wake series by turning something as simple as light and making that the basis for a video game. Light plays an important role in every aspect of Alan Wake, from the story (light vs dark/good vs evil) to the combat (flashlights, flares, the darkness shrouded possessed townfolk, etc.). If any studio can turn Fatal Frame’s major element, the camera obscura, and make it interesting, it’s Remedy.
But seriously, Remedy: give me Alan Wake 2.
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This Week in Horror - Remembering George A. Romero
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