Earlier today, Capcom revealed a HD REmaster of the Resident Evil REmake that released on the GameCube way back in 2002. On the surface, this move looks like simple fan service, a way to give longtime fans of the survival horror genre and the series that helped make it popular something they’ve been clamoring for since Resident Evil was taken in a wildly different direction in 2005. In reality, it’s so much more than that.
With this game, Capcom is effectively putting the direction the franchise takes in our hands.
Because this re-release will have an effect on the direction Resident Evil takes with the next installment in the main series, if you count yourself among the many fans who aren’t happy with the more action-oriented sequels that followed Resident Evil 4, this will be an opportunity to give Capcom some “feedback.”
The publisher has said they’re planning on rebooting the franchise, again, with the next game, which sounds like a possible return to the series’ roots in survival horror. But Resident Evil 7 is likely still a ways off and video game development is shifty. This is a fast-paced industry that’s always changing and evolving, so games change all the time mid-development. This includes Resident Evil, as both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4 saw numerous iterations before Capcom found the “right” one.
Recent efforts to expand on the franchise with games like Resident Evil Revelations, Operation Raccoon City and Resident Evil 6 have been met with mixed results. Revelations was received well, but didn’t sell as well as Capcom would’ve liked. Operation Raccoon City sold better than expected, but was almost universally panned by critics. Then there’s Resident Evil 6, which both sold well below the publisher’s expectations and wasn’t terribly well-received. This means the stakes are higher than ever and Capcom needs a win.
With the upcoming HD remaster of the Resident Evil REmake, Capcom is essentially testing the waters. Obviously, much of the game’s success rides on how much time and effort they invest into this latest iteration. If it’s not worthy of the original game’s legacy — or our money — than it’s not our fault if it doesn’t perform well. But if it’s good and no one buys it, that leaves little incentive for Capcom to take the main series, which is still a huge money maker for the publisher, back to its roots.
It’s not really even that simple, there are a few other factors to consider here.
When the REmake first released back in 2002, it undersold, motivating Capcom to “reboot” the series with Resident Evil 4. Now that horror is seeing a substantial resurgence, Capcom is using the REmake to see if the same renaissance that’s currently being enjoyed by indie developers of games like Outlast, Amnesia and The Forest also means games like the original Resident Evil trilogy are what genre fans want.
Then there’s the matter of remake/remaster fatigue, especially with Capcom, which has already given us HD remasters of Devil May Cry and Resident Evil. If this is perceived as “just another port” with only a few improvements, that will keep many folks from dropping their money on it. But unlike Resident Evil 4, a game that’s been ported more times than I care to recount, the first Resident Evil hasn’t seen the same level of “milking”. There’s also the fact that it released over a decade ago, meaning there’s a large audience of horror fans who likely haven’t played it.
Like I said, it’s not simple. So that leaves us with a question.
How will the world, which has gone for some time now without many mainstream, “old school” survival horror games, receive this game? We won’t know until “early 2015″, but if you’re a fan of the series, than this is something to think about. The fate of one of gaming’s greatest and most influential franchises, horror or otherwise, is being put in the hands of us, the consumers. What happens next is going to have a monumental impact on the path Resident Evil takes.
So with that said, what do you think?