Resident Evil. This is a name that is more firmly connected to the world of games and horror than almost any other brand. After all, the series has been around for a quarter of a century. Yes, Capcom is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. I have known the series since about this time. At that time I was still watching my brother play it because of course I was far too young for the games.
Meanwhile, Little Carlo has become Grand Carlo and the Resi range has also grown. Games, films, series, comics and much more are now part of the universe. With Resident Evil Village (buy now 64,99 € ) the newest part of the main series has now been released. I was allowed to play it before the release and I had a lot of fun, as our test confirms. But even though I was entertained well, I find that Resident Evil has rarely felt as torn as it did in Village, always in an inner conflict about what kind of game it wants to be. That’s why Resident Evil has to finally decide what it wants to be.
Otherwise I don’t see a bright future.
In the beginning there was a mansion
So that you can better understand my opinion, I have to briefly go back and look back at the series. So that this doesn’t get out of hand, just a rough look over the numbered main row. It started with a clear design back then. You steer your character through a mansion occupied by zombies and try to find out what is actually going on here. The camera is a trademark because it is static and only changes to other camera perspectives when you change rooms or go down the stairs.
Source: Games Aktuell
The first couple of Resident Evil games played with camera angles to bother players. If the perspective was just so that you couldn’t even see the shuffling zombie, that caused panic again. Resident Evil 1 was pretty scary for the time, and therefore a resounding success. Part 2 ran in a similar direction. With the Racoon City Police Department you again had a nested old building to explore and zombies to mess with. The concept of success continued and Capcom delivered another outstanding game.
From Resident Evil 3 onwards there were signs of wear and tear, but this part also became a success. Nevertheless, the series plunged into a first crisis of meaning and something new was needed!
The fatal departure from horror
For Resident Evil 4, Capcom turned its proven concept on its head. You are traveling with Leon S. Kennedy in an abandoned village at the end of the world and its inhabitants are not only brainless zombies, they also think along with you. The most important points are: You experience less horror, but more action and you steer Leon through the game world in the third person view.
What came after that is history. Resi 4 hit like a bomb. It sold dazzlingly and catapulted the range to new heights. Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 also took advantage of this momentum and relied on the same concept. In these years the series degenerated from a creepy shocker to a Zombieklatscher. With that Resi was in the next big crisis of meaning.
Resident Evil discovers the ME
So: again a major overhaul and again a liberation. Resident Evil 7 was the next soft reboot for the franchise. The camera was put into first-person perspective and the show took a giant leap back to horror. With the Bakers’ house there was a small, limited room for maneuver, the staging took a big step forward. But the action fans, who had gotten used to the third person and the zombie masses and had partly grown up with it – they fell down behind and were left behind.
This brings us to the main problem of the series and the reason that inspired me to write this column: The conflict that has now lain in this series.
Source: Carlo Siebenhüner
About the author
Fortunately, the youth advocates and the parents of Carlo Siebenhüner didn’t look like that at the time, otherwise he would probably never have had contact with Resident Evil so early. Although he is now in more life-like areas between Flight Simulator, Anno and Gothic, Resident Evil always stays on the screen – with all the positive and negative things that have stuck to the series for 25 years. He had fun with Resident Evil Village, but he got the feeling that the series is running into a dead end, from which only a radical step can help. If you really want to give him your opinion, then do it under his videos on the YouTube channel of pcgames.de (yes, he reads the comments (mostly)) or visit him on Mondays and Fridays on his Twitch-Kanal “exploration_happiness”.
How broken can a game series be?
Those: PC Games
Because the Resident Evil fan base now roughly consists of two factions. The horror faction that wants more horror, more scare and more fear, and those of the action lovers who want more shooting, more noise-boom, more zombies, because that’s Resident Evil meanwhile. Resident Evil Village happily snakes back and forth between these two factions, and you notice that as a player all the time. Resident Evil 7 also had these parts, but there it was more divided between the two halves of the game. The beginning is really scary and towards the end the action comes into play.
Resident Evil Village tries to mix that up and you can watch the game try to bring the two factions together. “Oh, it was just a little creepier? Here you have eight opponents at once!”
“Now we’ve shot enough, then it’s back to the dark crypt.” You don’t really make anyone happy with that.
For example, I’m someone who celebrated the scary moments in the game. It was a terrific experience when I snuck through the castle and hid from the giant lady Dimtrescu. I was completely tense and then the game spawned one of the vampire daughters in my back, whom I had COMPLETELY forgotten at the moment. I almost threw the gamepad away in shock. The point is: If the game has seized me like that and wants to break my nerves, it pulls me out all the more when ten opponents run towards me again.
It is exactly the other way around for the action fans, who run into top form in such terror moments with many opponents and then roll their eyes in annoyance when the game suddenly takes away your equipment and almost mutates into Outlast – without weapons, in the dark, alone And the only option is to run away
Will Resident Evil be the Assassin’s Creed of horror games?
Those: PC Games
Resident Evil is tripping itself up with that. Through the long years of the series, in which one constantly dragged the legacy of the past with them or raised the fans in a certain style of play, there is hardly any room for possibilities. Resident Evil wants to make everyone happy who could somehow imagine playing a scary game. But in the end it doesn’t make anything really outstanding.
The thought rang all the alarm bells for me, because there is a series that has also slipped into this scheme: Assassin’s Creed.
The series has been through many years and has undergone many transformations and is currently in the conflict between people who want an open-world role-playing game and people who want an action adventure in a big city.
Assassin’s Creed also somehow wants to make everyone happy, although it is still high-quality and entertaining, but you still notice as a player that there is nothing outstanding that stays in your head.
I would find it fatal if Resident Evil, due to its longevity, falls into exactly this trap in the end and wants to bring all the player’s wishes under one roof so that it appeals to as many buyers as possible. You give up your identity and become a stubborn wave rider on hip gameplay ideas.
More than the sum of its parts
But how do you solve this dilemma? How do you give a Resident Evil 9 a healthy identity? The easiest option would of course be to focus on one thing. A final decision, whether you want to be a shooting gallery with a horror paint job or scare the fans. This is of course a problem, as this solution alienates a whole fan base at a time.
Personally, however, I can think of a completely different solution: a division. Resident Evil already has a bunch of spin-offs, so it wouldn’t be a problem to just start a second main series. A “scenario B” if you will. These two types of games are published alternately and within the framework of these the two approaches can unfold much more strongly. On the one hand the creepy horror shocker that gives you nightmares, and on the other hand the shooter in which you slap hordes of zombies away.
You might even set up two teams, each taking care of their main series. Capcom is doing something similar with its multiplayer offshoots such as Resistance and Re: Verse. The multiplayer parts are published separately and sometimes even developed separately. So you don’t consume any resources of the main development team.
In the end, of course, only Capcom knows what the next Resident Evil offshoot will look like. It’s pretty certain that Resident Evil 9 will come, Resident Evil Village is too well produced and entertaining for that – despite all the criticism. Only: In my opinion, whether it comes along with its own identity or just “something scary” is not set in stone.
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