Cliff Bleszinski, known Resident Evil fan, former creative director at Epic Games, and the man — or one of many — behind the Gears of War franchise took to his personal Tumblr the other day to discuss one of our favorite subjects here at BD: horror games. Or the scary ones, specifically. He had some very interesting things to say about the genre, which has not-so-gracefully transitioned into more action oriented gameplay over the last few years. Since the very beginning of this movement there has been outcry from fans of the slower paced survival horror genre. For awhile, publishers were content with the new direction because it brought them more money than the more niche survival horror genre ever could.
This could soon change. It hasn’t been until fairly recently that major horror franchises have begun to lose their luster with more action-centric entries like Resident Evil 6, Operation Raccoon City, Silent Hill: Homecoming, and Dead Space 3, to name a few, receiving significantly lower review scores than earlier and more horror-driven installments.
“In the 60$ disc based market horror doesn’t fly – it’s the ultimate “Campaign Rental” that’s played for 2 days and traded in and I’m sure [publisher Electronic Arts] knows this. When we’re fully digital we’ll see more true horror games coming back.” Bleszinski wrote. He then went on to mention recent indie horror successes Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Slender: The Eight Pages.
“I’m quite familiar with the controversy over Dead Space 3 and the issue of horror versus action. Generally speaking, the scarier a game is the less empowered a player feels. Controls are often clunky on purpose, and the pacing is quite different from an action movie.” Dead Space 3 isn’t getting the same scores its predecessors did. The first two were critically acclaimed, but the latest entry isn’t receiving the same praise.
“At the end of the day, this franchise feels like it’s starting as a solo experience, a solitary and confined horror game, and now it’s evolving into much more than that,” he continued. “You can either fight it or embrace it. I choose the latter, as at the end of the day it’s FUN.” He’s right. As a fan of survival horror and all the things that made the first Dead Space so memorable, it’s sad to see a great horror franchise embrace action so heartily, even if it is a necessary evil.
“Is it possible to blend [action and horror]? Yes, I do think it is, and those of you who have read my interviews in which I talk about how you could do that in Resident Evil have seen the thoughts.” Bleszinski has been vocal about his fondness of the Resident Evil series in the past. In some ways, Resident Evil 4 even inspired his work on Gears of War, including the third person over-the-shoulder camera, mine cart section, etc.
I’ve said before that I think Capcom should join this evolution, maybe even lead it with their planned reboot of the Resident Evil series. Many fans have lost faith in Capcom, and not just because of how they’ve handled Resident Evil — let’s not forget about Dark Void, Lost Planet 2, Bionic Commando, on-disc DLC, need I go on?. They may have stumbled a bit lately, but they’re also responsible for bringing the horror genre to the mainstream. You may not be a fan of the latest Resident Evil games but there’s no denying the impact the franchise has had, from the first game that started it all to the brilliant reboot that was Resident Evil 4.
Whatever happens, I feel like the next change that horror fans see will be a more widely accepted one. It could be a return to form for Resident Evil, a larger, and higher quality, selection of indie horror games — a trend we’re seeing already — or something else. I’m ready for some change. Are you?