Will Shinji Mikami’s Evil Within rejuvenate the Survival Horror genre?

Survival Horror in current mainstream games is dead. It has been long dead now. Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, is finally trying to bring it back through his latest game. He is finally trying to rejuvenate the long dead Survival Horror, which has now been replaced by more action-oriented titles with elements of so called “Horror” thrown in the mix, and the “Survival Horror” of these titles is long gone.

Let’s me take a moment to introduce you to Shinji Mikami. In case you didn’t know about him. He is the father of modern Survival Horror. He created Resident Evil series, which then went on to shape Survival Horror games for years to come. For years, he worked on Resident Evil titles only, concluding with a more action-oriented Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil was not the only series he worked on. During his tenure at Capcom, working on Resident Evil, he brought us the fantastic Dino Crisis series as well. Dino Crisis might as well have been called Resident Evil but with Dinosaurs instead of Zombies, and it was an idea that worked well and was executed flawlessly.

Mikami-san was later promoted to the role of producer at Capcom and went on to help create a lot of the popular franchises for them, this include Devil May Cry, Onimusha and Viewtiful Joe.

In 2001, Mikami made a exclusivity deal with Nintendo offering them Resident Evil series. This was a controversial decision at that time and it upset a lot of the Resident Evil fans. Under this deal, Mikami went on to make two exclusive Resident Evil titles, which were Resident Evil Zero and Remake. Due to the terrible sales of these games, Mikami-san decided to make Resident Evil 4 much more action-oriented. Still, Resident Evil 4 had its moment of Survival Horror and wasn’t completely gimped from it.

Mikami soon left Capcom and Resident Evil 5 and 6 were released without his direction or involvement. Both of these clearly have a huge emphasis on fast paced action instead of Survival Horror of the old and Capcom basically killed what good will was left of the series with Resident Evil 6.

Now that Mikami-san has his own studio, he is finally going back to what made him famous, which is Survival Horror. The Evil Within looks as promising as any old Mikami title. It seems to have a perfect mix of scare along with the good old action. The ammo seems to be limited and the game does a good job of building up suspense. Sure, we haven’t gotten the game right now to actually make any such claims but the footage that we have seen so far and the things that we have heard are all pointing to it being a return to the Survival Horror genre by Mikami.

Mikami-san himself has explained that he wants Evil Within to be a actual Survival Horror title instead of action focused title with Survival Horror. The Evil Within seems to  limit players in term of ammo and health, which means players will have to use their items wisely and strategically and not go all out at once without worrying about health/ammo. This has been true for old school Resident Evil games, which limited the ammo of players and health items and forced players to use the items strategically.

We just saw a extended look at Evil Within which showed us that Mikami was true to his claims. Not only he is trying to focus on the scare factor, he is not trying to rely on cheap scare tactics. This time, Mikami is trying to create a game that looks to date back the golden era of Survival Horror genre i.e PlayStation 1 and 2 era. During this time, we saw great new entries for Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Fatal Frame and Forbidden Siren series. In-fact, even Western studios were trying to copy the craze at that time with their games, like Cold Fear and The Suffering.

Ever since the start of this generation, Survival Horror suddenly took a nose dive. Resident Evil 5 ended up being full of action. Dead Space 1 was a worthy Survival Horror contender but lost this in the second and the totally action focused third part. Alan Wake was perhaps one of the most popular Psychological Horror title this generation. Sony did release new a Siren game but unfortunately it didn’t sold well and was a critical and commercial failure. Team Siren was later disbanded and went on to make Gravity Rush for PlayStation VITA. Their name has also been changed from Team Siren to Team Gravity. Konami did try to bring back Silent Hill but instead of trying to create it internally, they looked for help from Western Studios and as a result, Silent Hill also went downhill starting this generation.

The Evil Within is a title that is looking to be a strong contender for rejuvenating Survival Horror. Considering it is from Shinji Mikami, the father of modern Survival Horror, is there any doubt in this statement?

What do you think about this article? Do you agree that Evil Within will rejuvenate Survival Horror genre? Let us know in the comments.

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Danial Arshad Khan

Founder of GearNuke.
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