I’m about to break one of my established rules here. Usually, I wait until I’ve finished a game to start discussing it with people. I don’t even acknowledge it until I see those credits roll. But this is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time. Something I’ve been waiting to get sparked in my head.
As I write this I am playing through what is currently the best next-gen game I own: Alien Isolation. I’ll try to adhere to my rule and let you know why I think so highly of it when I finish playing through it. What I want to talk about here is a little different.
There’s something about the Survival horror genre of gaming that does things to people that other games can’t. Sure racing games make you want to hop in your moms mini-van and set a new hot lap time around your block, fighting games make you want to finally lay the smackdown on the next dude that looks at you sideways, and sports games just make you wish you were athletic. But the survival horror genre is a little different. It makes people people put the controller down not from frustration but because they just don’t want to continue. It makes certain people only play with the lights on in the daytime. With friends over. And the sound turned down.
I had basically given up on the genre as a whole. I missed Gamescon this year but I still cried a bit when Capcom didn’t have anything to show. Yes there a large number of indie horror games out there for me to get into but they are usually either filled with cheap jump-scares or generic stories and gore. Outlast gave me hope. A survival horror game gains its horror aspect from atmosphere and story, not from explosions and gunplay but even that grew stale after a while. The Survival horror god Shinji Mikami himself stated that the genre as a whole should return to form and stop concentrating on the revenue and more on the fans. I got giggly. Then I saw the trailer for Silent Hills. The playable trailer itself was enough to make want back in and scare me to death at the same time. More giggles. And after hearing about The Evil Within a while back I got a little concerned. Sure everyone would see it as a stand-in while we all wait for Resident Evil 7 but the first few trailers showed nothing but gore, gunplay and…well…gore. The things that we gamers have gotten used to from our games and therefore expect. I think we all deserve better.
There’s definitely a resurgence happening with the genre that I think we should all take part in. Look at games like Outlast, Amnesia, and even Five Nights at Freddy’s. They were created with the intent of bringing back survival horror games that actually terrify people. If just the playable trailer for Silent Hills had that effect on you then game developers are going to start taking notice. They kind of have to. Sure, Splinter Cell vs. Zombies makes an epic idea (sure does) and it would rake in the cash. But developers have to have integrity these days. People want games that make them feel. Not that remind them of a better game.
So hats off to the team at The Creative Assembly and Sega for crafting something that doesn’t remind me of a game but of what I missed from a genre as a whole. An atmospheric and psychological adventure where I have to actually survive rather than figure out what ammo to dump first. Other developers better take notice because this isn’t just a stint it’s the future. It’s what a very dedicated group of gamers has been wanting for a very long time. Thanks guys. Now let me get back to being scared.