Resident Evil has gone through many a transition since that fateful day at the Spencer mansion. We’ve seen an ever growing cast list, a multitude of locations and a constantly unfolding storyline. The gameplay mechanics have also evolved as time has progressed.
But these changes have not always been well received amongst fans of the series. A large proportion of the fan base were concerned that the ‘survival horror’ aspect was lost when the immersive fixed-camera angle was lost, when Resident Evil 4 was released. However, it revealed to be a very immersive and gripping game. But standards slipped with the subsequent releases of Resident Evil 5 & 6. Capcom were clearly more concerned with action and arcade style gameplay, truly eradicating any such trace of the once loved survival horror experience. Partnered with so many side story releases, such as Resident Evil: Revelations, Umbrella Corps and…, the franchise sat in a very vulnerable position.
A New Hope
Then Resident Evil 7 came along. A whole new revamp was touted in previews and trailers (which we covered in great depth last year). The cheesy button bashing and ludicrous hoardes of zombies were clearly omitted. From what we could see, Capcom had well and truly gone back to their roots with this game.
An eerie dwelling, with horror now lingering in the air, as opposed to an atmosphere akin to being dropped in to a warzone. Sick and twisted characters adorned the plot, with an equally sick storyline. Coupled with the game taking on another mechanics change; First-Person. The horror was well and truly back.
The success of Resident Evil 7 speaks for itself. It’s already shipped more than 3.5 million units. Yes, some of that may have to do with the heavy emphasis on VR and being one of the first games to fully utilize the PlayStation VR headset. But without stripping too much credit away from the success of the game itself, it definitely is a game that can stand on its own and rank highly in the survival horror genre. It’s success was to be further extended, with extra DLC introduced, allowing the story to further unfold.
Let’s Introduce An Old Friend
What fans of the franchise will want to know now, is can this recent bout of success be sustained? Capcom have stumbled on to a clearly popular formula with RE7, but can it be built upon? Can they integrate this way of playing in to the historic storyline?
We know that there is a confirmed remake of Resident Evil 2 in the pipeline. This entry is considered a fan-favorite amongst many and is hotly anticipated given its cult status. RE2. brought about a fantastic storyline, with some very memorable characters such as Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield and Ada Wong. The ever unfolding plotline set in the iconic Raccoon Police Department, was certainly a epic journey that really did begin to open up the world of Resident Evil.
We have, unfortunately, yet to see any progress on this remake, other than it has been confirmed. My own personal opinion is that we may see something at the Tokyo Games show this year, after many expected to see something at E3 2017. But without veering off topic, can we expect Capcom to use the winning combination we have seen in Resident Evil 7 to bring us a much wanted Resident Evil 2 remake?
We already know there are plans to overhaul the RE2 storyline, after reports have now emerged the actress who voiced Claire Redfield in the original, is set to be replaced, amongst other rumors. These all clearly point to a full remake, not just a HD re-master.
In my own, humble opinion, I’m open to new ideas with the franchise now. I was very stubborn when an ‘over-the-shoulder’ camera angle was introduced in Resident Evil 4, but it worked and worked very well. However, after becoming accustomed to this change, the storyline in the subsequent releases and overall gameplay was then a huge issue for me. So when RE7 was overhauled, I was still open to change and willing to try a new spin on the series to see if that magic could be recaptured. It clearly works, but my concern if this is applied to historic titles is, will it strip the original of its compelling storyline or are we in store for something completely different?
Can Resident Evil Live On?
We know that remakes can’t be a sustainable future for any company, but they at least bring about something that we all know and love in to a current day port. But what about the future? Can Capcom continue to churn out a first-person survival horror year after year? Are we in line for a brand new storyline, with the likes of Leon, Jill, Claire and Chris never to be seen again? We already know that RE7 has a loose link with a ‘Redfield’ character, but will this bring about a birth of something new?
I personally believe the ongoing Umbrella/Raccoon City storyline is over and should be put to bed. Yes, reference should always be made to it in future games and the homage to it should always live on. But revisiting it with the same characters should be left untouched. The setting of the Baker house instilled true terror. I believe these scenarios and this smaller scale horror, is what should continue in the future. When I refer to ‘smaller scale’, I’m referring to the horror being localized in a dwelling, as opposed to taking on the entire world and destroying skyscrapers to save an entire city etc.
After Resident Evil 7, I’m very optimistic about the future. Capcom have clearly listened to feedback about previous titles and my hope is that they continue to do so. Should the franchise start veering off into a relapse again, I don’t see many fans of the franchise sticking around for the revival.