Reflecting on Resident Evil Franchise As a Survival Horror Genre

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I don’t know what happened, but gradually over the few years, I begin to lose interest in Resident Evil franchise despite the fact,  I enjoy playing all of  the RE games, but I think I’m getting tired of playing them and I’m losing faith that it will ever return to its roots as a survival horror genre.

It all started  with RE4, RE5 and RE6 on how the games are broken into chapters/campaigns. At the end of each chapter, I was given a”report card” on how well I did:  hit ratio, number of time killed, enemies routed etc. Because I am forced to acknowledge my performance, I spent more time focusing on how well I played and not so much about the survival aspect of the game.  This report card sort of destroyed the survivor horror experience  I had with RE1, RE2 and RE3.

I remember the earlier Resident Evil games were more story-driven and suspenseful. For example, in RE1, the characters are chased into the mansion. The mansion seems like a haven in the middle of the woods. They thought they are safe, but they are wrong. As they venture deeper into the mansion, they uncover its secret. Then with the realization that they might end up as zombies, they attempt to escape, knowing what they uncover is epidemic. To escape from something horrific is survival horror.

I didn’t feel this way about RE4, RE5 and RE6.  There is too much action going on in these games which make it difficult for me to follow Resident Evil’s timeline. Both RE4 and RE5 are very similar, in terms of structure. The environment did not feel claustrophobic. It didn’t make me feel as if I need to escape since I am already out in the open. In RE4,  the appearance of the Merchant acknowledges that this is a shooting game. It allows me to tune up my weapons right before when there is a serious zombie action event.  RE5 is even worse, in terms of survival horror,  Chris and Sheva are given handguns right after they walk pass the villagers.  The way how the handgun is given RE5 is not subtle compared to RE1, when Chris finds a handgun on the floor in the lobby and wonders where Jill and Wesker disappear to. Lastly, RE6 starts out dramatically with explosion. This is just a pure action-based game.

My argument is that the way how RE4 , RE5 and RE6 were introduced and narrated, made it less suspenseful, which in turn, made it less about survival horror. So I can’t say whether I am too excited about RE7. RE games have always been cinematic but how well it is executed will determine whether it falls into the survival horror category or not. I wish I could enjoy the demo, but sadly the first person-view  made me sick. I think I am going to wait for this one to go on sale instead of playing on launch day.