Survival-Horror # 3 – Resident Evil, a role model?

Resident Evil unleashed passions and his success was such that its eighth opus has just been released, 25 years after the release of the first episode. However, other games carrying the survival-horror label have attracted the attention of players, and we tell you about them in this third feature devoted to the genre.

In 2014, overseen by Shinji Mikami, The Evil Within see the day. A survival-horror with a dark, gory and decidedly disturbing atmosphere, which leaves no one indifferent. We follow the peregrinations of Inspector Sebastian Castellanos in a complicated investigation structured around fifteen chapters; we must save our skins, and it is difficult thing, because only a revolver and a torch allow us respectively to fight against unspeakable monstrosities and to locate ourselves in what appear to be archetypes of the genre, namely catacombs, a cemetery, a manor …

We can deplore certain aspects of The Evil Within, like the somewhat sluggish technical realization (graphics which left much to be desired for the time, lighting effects not always relevant, decorations which sometimes lack depth, a few bugs…); but we cannot deny that he plays his role of true survival horror wonderfully:

  • The storyline is well enough put together to keep us alert.
  • The puzzles, even if they are not very present, think outside the box.
  • The morbid atmosphere and the psychological dimension are far from tenuous.
  • Ammunition is clearly limited.
  • The bestiary, while not revolutionary, is scary enough to keep us going.
  • The life of the chapters is long enough to strain our nerves

The Evil Within manages easily, and this from the first minutes of the game, to create a climate of generalized fear, placing us at the heart of survival.

During the year 2008, it was in space that fear settled, with the game Dead Space, from the Visceral Games studio. We are really not far behind on the USG Ishimura. And even if the scenario remains deja vu, the interest of the game lies in its atmosphere and its staging which are particularly effective. The creatures that roam the ship, called the Necromorphs, are particularly frightening and imposing, and they have the unfortunate tendency to appear from anywhere, anytime (hello Alien xenomorph!).

The immersion is accentuated by a character are all lambda, which is basically not designed for combat, and by the total absence of HUD taking us out of the action. The developers preferred to integrate an in-game holographic display that allows us to visualize our inventory, and have implanted the life bar directly on our protagonist’s suit. We also have an interest in monitoring our ammunition which is not sufficient to gain the advantage over our enemies who are arriving in numbers. We have to juggle skillfully between the use of our weapons and the two powers granted to us: stasis and telekinesis.

The sound design of the game is not left out to keep us in a state of permanent anxiety; the corporate action plays an essential role in it, as the pieces Jason Graves and Rod Abernethy are engaging and adapted to each moment of the game. Dead Space received, among other things, the audio award at the ninth edition of the Game Developers Choice Awards.

Even if we can evoke the action / TPS side of Dead Space, this one remains a survival-horror and a good one. No one will come to save you in space …

In 2001 a game was released, which presents itself as the cornerstone of a franchise whose sequels are just as striking, we named Project Zero (or Fatal Frame): we play Miku, a young girl in search of her brother Mafuyu, who has disappeared in the Himuro Manor. We must face spirits and unravel the mystery of the curse that reigns over the abode. The horrific dimension is clearly present with its terrifying specters that appear at any moment. The vulnerability of our character is highlighted thanks to his rather frail appearance, his worried facies and the way in which we fight our enemies: no weapons here, we are armed with a simple camera.

Exploration in this dismal place equipped with a simple flashlight has enough to panic our heart rate! The bet of the Tecmo studio is successful: a blood-curdling atmosphere supported by an excellently posed background imbued with Japanese mysticism. The character is so vulnerable that the identification process is such that we find ourselves transposing his survival to ours. The OST is not left out, and accentuates anxiety. The exploration phases are typical of survival horror, with a fixed camera that helps to give us a cold sweat … There is basically everything you need in Project Zero ; even if it is quite violent, even gory, no part of the game is there to overbid (as we see more and more in other horror games).

Let us go back a few more years. We are in 1999. Mikami, strong on the success of his Resident Evil offers a game clearly inspired by this one, with dinosaurs this time: Dino Crisis. It was born on August 29 and plunges us into a scientific base infested with dinosaurs. Unlike zombies, zombies are much faster and don’t give us much opportunity to cheat on you. Very clearly inspired by Jurassic Park, Dino Crisis was rather well received and will also offer two suites; however the year 1999 was marked by competition, and by a particularly good game, namely Silent Hill.

Keiichiro Toyama, creator of the famous saga will have made more than one shudder! Even if the game has aged rather badly, it is probably one of the best survival horror in the history of video games. While in full swing, survival horror tends towards more action, but Silent Hill stands out for its creepy, heavy and unhealthy atmosphere:

  • The scenario : Although slightly difficult to follow, the scenario is a nugget as it is worked. Intriguing at will, the story therefore takes place in the town of Silent Hill, the anchor point of this opus. Combining human drama, esotericism and the supernatural, the pitch brings an oppressive atmosphere based heavily on the staging.
  • The bestiary: Uneasy as it can be. Straight out of the imagination of Alessa, a young woman condemned to damnation, creatures such as Groaners, Splitheads, Rompers, and many more, frighten us throughout the game.
  • The game system: Based on a third person view, the angles and movements of the camera greatly accentuate these feelings of anguish and unease. No HUD is available (no information about your life, ammunition or other). Our character evolves in a constant fog, leaving us practically no visibility. Passages in narrow and dark places, equipped with a simple flashlight, are not without giving us some stress.
  • A new trend: Silent Hill in particular that it brings a psychological dimension to survival horror; the game relies on emotions and an almost psychoanalytic introspection.

The sequels of this first opus are just as formidable and horrifying. Pyramid Head and his giant knife are remembered with dread as well as the nurses in Silent Hill 2, released in 2001. Although Silent Hill first of the name is a monumental slap, the second part has materialized the hopes of the players, and it is considered the most successful of the license.

We still hear about Keiichiro Toyama with the release of Forbidden Siren on PlayStation 2 in 2004 (in Europe), since he is the game designer and the screenwriter. This game is original in that we play no less than ten characters that we must keep alive. In a fictional Japanese village, our mission is to escape the threat of the Shibitos, hostile and immortal creatures that can take various disgusting forms. Although you have to survive, Forbidden Siren is not a full-fledged survival horror. It is more like an action / infiltration game in a horrific environment than a survival-horror as such.

This trend is more and more true. A bit like forgetting the basics of the genre and turning to something more hectic, focused on “startle horror” (the jumpscares) or on showing the disgusting onscreen. A point to develop in a future file?

In the meantime, we leave you on these images of Keiichiro Toyama, the father of Silent Hill, working on his next game. And don’t hesitate to give us your opinions on this paper or your feelings on survival-horror!


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