E3 is always an exciting time for gamers, and 2016’s event was no exception. With announcements for several high-profile games, some amazing technology that will alter and shape the future of next generation gaming, and the return of some hugely popular franchises — the best of which were covered by Screen Rant — the expo was a huge success. Now, gamers just have to wait for the announcements to come to fruition — which is always the tough part.
One key reveal from the event, and possibly the biggest announcement of E3 itself, was the return of Hideo Kojima. After the cancellation of Silent Hills, a revelation that shocked the gaming community, Kojima and Konami parted ways in 2015, ending one of the more high-profile working partnerships in the gaming industry. However, at E3, the enigmatic game designer confirmed his return with independent company Kojima Productions and personally announced their debut release, Death Stranding. Little is known about the game thus far, but with the trailer featuring a naked Norman Reedus — yes, that Norman Reedus — and a sheer apocalyptic feel, not to mention some mesmerizing yet disturbing imagery, suffice it to say that gamers are intrigued and excited in equal measure.
With the mention of Kojima’s name comes the obvious question: will we ever see another Silent Hill game? With the cancellation of Silent Hills, something I covered in a previous article in February, the franchise is all but dead and buried, but there might yet be a glimmer of hope for the Silent Hill fans. At E3, fellow survival horror franchise Resident Evil announced its return in a huge way and declared its intention to dominate the survival horror genre in true form. How did it do this? Well, it seemed to take a leaf out of Silent Hills’ book: it’s gone to a first-person perspective, adopted a more resigned, creepy tone, and it has people wondering the impossible: could this be the game Silent Hill fans have been waiting for?
Silent Hills, as it currently stands, is a cancelled game that will never see the light of day, and gamers will never experience anything past the P.T. interactive teaser demo that shoved the terrifying game into minds all over the world. We’ll never know if the game was to take place in the first-person perspective either, although this was heavily hinted at with the game play. The thought of it was haunting and simple: imagine navigating the darkness of Silent Hill through the terrified eyes of the protagonist, without the advantage of a third-person camera? It added a new element of fear and terror that had the potential to reignite the franchise.
It seems Capcom may have had the same idea for Resident Evil.
The comparisons between Resident Evil‘s announcement trailer and the P.T. demo were instant, and Capcom recently debunked any copycat rumours in an interview with GameSpot, claiming that Resident Evil 7 was in development before the P.T. reveal. However, it’s clear to see that Resident Evil, as a game, is also enhanced by the first-person view. The change of perspective has disappointed some die-hard fans, who have complained over the years that the franchise has deviated from its original roots, but this is exactly why the game designers are doing it; they want a return to the original horror of the Resident Evil franchise, the horror that made the franchise a household name to begin with, and with the first-person view as popular in games as it ever was — a view that seriously ups the thrill and chills factor — why not utilize that? It seems like a very wise decision from Capcom, one that ushers in a new type of Resident Evil game.
In recent times, Resident Evil has morphed into something different; a game where an abundance of ammo, a host of dispensable baddies, the introduction of quick-time events, and a plethora of characters enable you to participate in, for want of a better description, a glossy, attractive, highly enjoyable interactive action movie. While there’s nothing wrong with this, and while Resident Evil 5 and 6 were well-received, the deviation has irked some fans, the avid fans who remember the games’ original, simple roots.
These fans remember the first Resident Evil, where tactical exploration, avoiding conflict to spare crucially scarce ammo, and articulate puzzles were key elements of the game. Aside from these hallmarks, the game excelled in using a static camera, one that was almost CCTV-like in its approach. This is proof that a change of view can work in some aspects; the game produced some chilling, original scares from that device alone. Although the original Silent Hill would alter that slightly and introduce a roaming camera that is now standard in most survival horror games, there’s no doubt that scares surpass the view, and this is exactly why a first-person approach would work in Resident Evil 7.
Both games have utilized third-person, but it was the setting that established both horror franchises. Resident Evil was set in a deserted mansion flecked with shadows and menace and isolation, one that acted as a stately cover for the sinister bioengineering lab buried deep beneath its foundation. As the player traversed the mysterious location and discovered the evil secrets within, they regularly jumped, cowered, or ran away from whatever threat came their way. This confined space practically enhanced the gaming experience, reinvented the survival horror genre as we know it, and introduced the world to a phenomenal gaming franchise. Going back to its roots, Resident Evil 7 is set in a plantation mansion in rural America — coincidence?
Silent Hill is the game’s namesake, a deserted, dilapidated town based in Nowhere, U.S.A. Unlike Resident Evil, the main character in the game had no experience with firearms or weapons of any kind and was expected to fend for himself on the empty, haunted streets. Playing the game with this disadvantage added a rawness to the proceedings, an element of uncertainty; you might win a fight, or you might die a horrible death, and this was only made worse by the horrific setting of the town itself. Where the town and its quirky inhabitants provided much of Silent Hill‘s infamous scares, it was this serious combat disadvantage that had the player running more times than not, preferring to avoid conflict and a certain demise. This would become a regular theme during the first four Silent Hill entries, one that was applauded by the critics.
Resident Evil 7 will utilize this mechanic too, preferring to introduce a new inexperienced character with no fighting skills. Sure, there will be weapons available in the game, but the player will be given the choice; fight or flight. With quick-time events completely abolished for the seventh game, which means you will have to get to grips with your unfamiliar weapon of choice, this is firm proof that Capcom is looking to recapture the horror and basic control of the original game. With the first-person perspective adding a new element too — continually spinning to check your dangerous surroundings should be particularly chilling and unnerving — it seems Resident Evil 7 may be the survival horror experience the fans of both franchises have been waiting for.
There will be Silent Hill fans who may never touch a Resident Evil game, and vice versa. On a personal note, I enjoy both games, they each have their pros and cons, and picking a favourite between the two has never been easy. However, Capcom has clearly listened to the fans with Resident Evil 7, and with a re-release of the immensely popular Resident Evil 2 firmly in the works, something that was demanded by the players, it’s clear the developer has taken note of its loyal fan base. In this day and age, kudos to Capcom for doing so. Based on the already strong evidence, remember, the game has only released snippets of detail thus far, dare I utter this sentence: Resident Evil 7 might just be the perfect game for Silent Hill fans.
Opinions will be divided on this, probably until the game is released, but with Silent Hills dead in the water, I believe the fans owe it to themselves to check out Resident Evil 7 — it’s a game made for the players, a horror experience created from intense feedback, years of developing success, and an acute finger on the pulse of survival horror. As the franchise reaches its 20th anniversary in style, why not further the brand with a game that has the potential to reinvent the genre? After all, it did it once before, so why not let history repeat itself.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard will be released on January 24, 2017.
[Image via Capcom]