The Future of Survival Horror: Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and AMY! Oh My!

Survival Horror is a genre unique to gaming. It differentiates itself from regular old horror because of the emphasis put of conservation of supplies and health. While there are older games that may be able to be, retroactively, placed in the genre, the original Resident Evil coined the term, and is considered the father of the genre. In 1999, the original Silent Hill was released. It was built on the Resident Evil formula, and was criticized as being nothing more than a Resident Evil clone. However, in 2001, Silent Hill 2 was released on the PS2 and catapulted the series, and the genre itself , to new heights. Building on the framework laid out by the original, Silent Hill 2 focused more heavily on psychological horror, and its setting and environment than previous survival horror entires. While there are other entries into the genre, Resident Evil and Silent Hill have remained the biggest Survival Horror series. However, both series have evolved, and some have accused them of straying too far from their Survival Horror roots. In fact some say that the genre itself is dead. Both franchises have several new games coming out this year, so now is a good time to assess the future of the beleaguered genre.

This cover is the scariest part of the game
For its time, Resident Evil was very popular spawning two immediate sequels and many copycats including Dino Crisis. Unfortunately the Resident Evil format did not survive well past the Playstation/N64 generation and Resident Evil: Code Veronica, released on the Dreamcast, proved that fans had grown tired of the same formula. In 2005, Resident Evil 4 was released, and singlehandedly catapulted the cult series to the mainstream. It innovated not just the series, but 3rd person shooters on the whole, and many 3rd person shooters are still based on the Resident Evil 4 model. Unfortunately, Resident Evil 4 changed the tone of the series. It brought loud, quick, frequent, action to the foreground and left behind many of its horror roots. It did try to maintain a certain level of horror and conservation, but this was often left behind by the huge action set pieces. Its PS3/360 successor, Resident Evil 5, was the exact opposite of 4. Instead of innovating, it stagnated, and instead of trying to balance horror and action, it threw horror away. While Resident Evil 4 could still, tenuously, be called a Survival Horror game, Resident Evil 5 was clearly set up as an action game. This is how the Resident Evil series left their Survival Horror roots.
Ruining the tension, also known as Sheva’s only skill
 Resident Evil has two major titles being released in the upcoming months: Revelations, and Operation Raccoon City. Both games are addressing complaints of Resident Evil 5 from fans, in very different ways.  Operation Raccoon City continues further down the Resident Evil 4 path, taking the series even further from the Survival Horror genre. It is a full on 3rd person action game, mimicking Lost Planet and Left 4 Dead more than its predecessors. It addresses the problem that Resident Evil 5 lifted its gameplay mechanics directly from 4 by creating brand new mechanics. The other game being released, Revelations, is of far more interest for Survival Horror fans. Capcom has promised that this 3DS game would take the series back to its roots and focus more heavily on inventory management, ammo conservation, and provide legitimate scares. This is strange news. You see, internet, the Resident Evil 4 gameplay model, which the game still follows, hasn’t been proven to be effective for actual horror games. That being said all previews and reports, not to mention the pre-demo released with Mercenaries, has shown that this game may actually pull off Survival Horror, being the first Resident Evil game to return to the genre since 2005. 
You can hug it, or shoot it, but you have to do something… quick!
The Silent Hill series is a story of fan disappointment complete with regular success. Silent Hill 2’s followup, the appropriately named Silent Hill 3, was considered by many to be a superior game. However, the release of Silent Hill 4: The Room led to a gradual increase in fan outrage. Silent Hill didn’t deviate in the slightest from the Survival Horror model until Homecoming. This game modernized the combat system and simultaneously made enemies nonthreatening, and ammo plentiful. However, Homecoming wasn’t the success that Resident Evil 4 was, so Konami (Developer) wasn’t keen on continuing the trend. In an attempt to curtail the trend of turning Survival Horror games into action games, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, was released and featured no combat whatsoever. Reminiscent of the Clock Tower series, Shattered Memories featured enemies that could only be fled from. Unfortunately, the game was extremely easy, and enemies only appeared at a specific time, so most of the game was completely free from tension or dread. Unlike the Resident Evil series, Silent Hill hasn’t attempted to leave the Survival Horror genre, but a long string of misses has been making the series less and less relevant.
This is Pyramid Head, and he loves you.
 Silent Hill has three major releases coming up in the next year: the Silent Hill Collection, Downpour, and Book of Memories. The Silent Hill Collection is an HD rerelease of Silent Hill 2 and 3. Despite not being new games, the Collection couldn’t come out at a better time. You see, internet, even though Silent Hill is a popular brand, it is important to remind fans and newcomers alike of the absolute best the series has to offer. Downpour is the newest release in the main series and fans stand with bated breath over whether or not the game will be a hit, or land in the same vein as Homecoming. The team working on it has already made an effort to exclude popular Silent Hill locations such as schools and hospitals in an attempt to make it standout among the series. At the same time, the addition of a puzzle difficulty selection harkens back to earlier Silent Hills and, hopefully, is an indication of the time and effort going into the game. Finally, there is Book of Memories. This game is a non-canonical spinoff, which will simply be a co-op topdown shooter. In other words, Book of Memories is going to be far from a Survival Horror game. 
For the first time, you can fight your personal sexual frustration demons with a friend
And then there’s AMY. Poor AMY is a recently released Survival Horror game available to be downloaded on the PSN or Xbox Live. Looking around the message boards prior to release, you could see the anticipation for AMY. It was being heralded as the saviour for Survival Horror. It was going to be dark, terrifying, with a great story, and difficult. Unfortunately, this viewpoint only shows how desperate Survival Horror fans are for a new game. AMY was never going to be a good game. It is a game featured entirely around escort quest mechanics, and it doesn’t matter which game implements it, escort quests are always the low point of a game. This is beside the point that the game is, on a technical level, unplayable, and it received appropriately abysmal scores. In other words, Survival Horror fans still have to wait for the next great game in their genre.
I bet you’d like to spend hours frustrating yourself protecting this girl
Fortunately for Survival Horror fans, the trends are changing. Capcom seems to be aware of the desire to return Resident Evil to its roots and, even if Revelations doesn’t accomplish this, it is clear that this is a priority to them. On the other hand, Silent Hill is poised to release its next game and the question on whether it will be good or unfortunately mediocre rests in everyone’s minds. An excellent Silent Hill and an old-school Resident Evil would go a long way towards reviving this recently overlooked genre.

Now I leave you with a look at Silent Hill’s relationship with Kindergarden Cop here.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer
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