I’ve stated my love for the legacy Resident Evil games before; Resident Evil 2 and its Silent Hill counterpart stand as probably the finest games in the survival horror genre. Resident Evil 4 took the series in a new direction, adding more of a focus on action. It’s an incredible game, even though it had lost its survival horror soul.
By the time Resident Evil 5 came out, all focus on horror and scares went out the window, leaving the series as combat bent 3rd-person shooter. I’d love for the series to go back to its roots and deliver another puzzle-laden, exploration heavy action-adventure game – but it seems like that’ll never happen.
Capcom’s Masachika Kawata has said that the numbered Resident Evil games will keep being action-packed shooters – because there just isn’t enough demand for survival horrors these days.
“RE4 started in that direction, and RE5 kept going in that direction and I think that especially for the North American market, we need to keep going in that direction, and take that a step further,” Kawata, the producer of Resident Evil: Revelations told Gamasutra. “Looking at the marketing data [for survival horror games] the market is small, compared to the number of units Call of Duty and all those action games sell. A ‘survival horror’ Resident Evil doesn’t seem like it’d be able to sell those kind of numbers.”
Great, so it’s Call of Duty’s fault, then and we should expect Resident Evil to become another cookie-cutter shooter? Well, not quite.
“I can’t really speak for Resident Evil 6, but I don’t think that it necessarily has to go all the way in that direction, the Call of Duty direction. It doesn’t have to be a straight up shooter,” he said.
I really think that pressure on Japanese developers to perform as well as western developers with regards to sales has lead to too many Japanese games losing their soul, their…unique Japaneseness this generation – and Resident Evil’s become a victim. Thankfully, there’s a glimmer of hope in that smaller Resident Evil projects – like Resident Evil Revelations on the 3DS – give the company a little more leeway to make Resident Evil the way it should be.
“And that’s exactly one of the reasons that Revelations is the way it is,” Kawata said.“So we have our numbered series, and we can say we have a more adventure-oriented version, like a Revelations-style game. And we also have Operation: Raccoon City, which is a third-person shooter. So I think that by extending the market in this sense, we can still have the numbered titles keep their identity about what Resident Evil is supposed to be, but still expand and hit other markets as well.”