Drown With The Ship: Resident Evil Rev’s Horror Heritage

By Nathan Grayson on April 27th, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

Wait! Have you seen this map? It's really cool!

I don’t think I’m being particularly controversial when I say Resident Evil hasn’t been scary in a long, long, long time. Resident Evil 4 (abysmal PC port aside, sadly) was a great action game, Resident Evil 5 was an offensively inoffensive action game, and Resident Evil 6 should be illegal. But Resident Evil Revelations actually garnered pretty strong marks on handhelds, and I think I’m starting to understand why. The ship looks suitably confined, the monsters aren’t simply regular people whose heads explode into evil spaghetti sometimes, and the game apparently attempts to leverage the natural human fear of drowning. That’s interesting, but can it be fun? I sure hope so. For now, however, all we’ve got is footage and three devs spilling behind-the-scenes secrets like warm entrails from a fallen fish monster. I suppose that’ll do.

So yes, I’m a fan of the idea of leveraging water’s somewhat lung-unfriendly nature for horror, but I do worry a bit about how that’ll translate into game form. I mean, it drives me insane (in a good way) in movies, but “ohmanohjeeztheclockistickingbetterswimfasteroopsyouredead” sections in games tend to drive me insane (in a very, very bad way). That said, I imagine most of the game keeps with various forms of Resident Evil tradition, so I’m not anticipating a tear-your-hair-out water park of doom or anything.

Also, did anyone else get really excited when they were dissecting the psychology of horror and the hormones involved in fear, only to kind of wilt when they finally explained how that applies to the game? I was like “Oh? Oh! …Oh.”

At any rate, it’s out on May 21st in North America and May 24th in all other undead-infested virtual waters. I’m hoping for a satisfying, slightly spooky snack, if not a stick-with-me-for-weeks meal. How about you?

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48 Comments »

  1. Dowr says:

    “Resident Evil 4… was a great action game” Thank you!

    If I hear one more person claim RE4 was a horror game in anyway, I’m going to destroy our entire species.

    • ZIGS says:

      Considering we’re all human, that means you’ll have to kill yourself in the process… something tells me you didn’t think this through

    • Nicodemus Rexx says:

      If I accused RE4 of being a very good action game with a few very good horror sections sprinkled in, would that be enough to trigger your genocidal rampage?

      • Snidesworth says:

        I’m going to agree with you in hope of provoking that response. That and I think it’s true. There were definitely a few unnerving moments, but for the most part it was a damn fine action game, though quite unlike its contemporaries at the time.

    • Pryde says:

      Resident Evil 4 was an amazing horror game! There you go. Fuck you, humanity, see you in hell.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Wait! I have a short list of people who should be exempted.

      I have it around here somewhere.

      Hmm. No, I’ve lost it. Oh well. The whole species it is, then.

    • Feferuco says:

      It pains me to see people saying RE5 turned the series into an action game, pains me harder when people say RE6 was really what turned the series into an action game.

    • grenadeh says:

      There was never anything remotely horror in the slightest bit about that game, ever. It KIND OF maintained some of the original themes, kind of. By that meter, though, there was nothing horror about RE1 or 2 or 3 or CVX, for the most part. RE4 was a decent action game, but it was no survival horror game, and it sure as hell wasn’t the best RE game.

  2. rabish12 says:

    I’ve got this game on 3DS, and it really is a pretty fantastic game in general, and a surprisingly good Resident Evil game. It’s got the slower pacing, darker and creepier environments, and tension-building calm moments of the older titles (and the REmake in particular), and it has a simplified system for handling weapons and inventory that keeps you from being pulled out of the action too often. Doesn’t hurt that the game doesn’t force coop on you – you spend a decent amount of time with an AI partner in the main campaign, but the coop is its own separate, dedicated, and much more action-oriented affair. All in all, It’s probably my favorite in the series next to RE4 (and ignoring the Outbreaks, since you can’t really play those anymore).

    Capcom should probably stop taking credit for it, though. It’s a great game, but it’s great mostly because they outsourced it to a great studio that doesn’t mind letting Capcom take credit for their work. I’d be surprised if any of its positive elements have anything to do with Capcom beyond the license.

    EDIT: Oh, and on the “using the fear or drowning” crap in the dev diary: it’s bunk. They do that maybe once, in probably the least tense or scary scene in the game (Jill sure can hold her breath for quite a while…)

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Um, going by that explanation of how the studio’s run I’d say Capcom have every right to take most of the credit for the game, given Tose’s whole raison d’etre seems to be to follow other people’s directions as closely as possible while not imposing on the process in any way. Plus they’re also responsible for a hell of a lot of shovelware, plus the godawful Wii version of Dead Rising, so one way or the other their CV’s not that much to shout about.

      Although apparently they’re the ones responsible for porting Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, a.k.a. one of the greatest videogames ever created! So now I don’t know what to think.

      • rabish12 says:

        Yes and no. Tose does say that they make games that way, and they do take general direction from their publishers (in this case, Capcom probably came up with the rather laughably stupid plot and the idea to set it on a cruise ship, aka a floating mansion), but the actual specifics of the design, the smaller touches, and the overall quality of the final product is generally the result of their staff and not their publisher. They were told to make a Resident Evil game by a company that’s clearly incapable of doing so anymore, and they did exactly that.

        As for their having released shovelware… well, their strengths are in portable development and original products, not in porting existing products to vastly weaker systems (and with the Dead Rising Wii port in particular, I doubt any studio could have managed to make that work). Look back at the Dragon Warrior Monsters games or the Metal Gear Solid title for the Game Boy Color if you really want to see what their work tends to be like.

        EDIT: All that aside, it’s really more than just taking credit for this game that bothers me. Yes, Tose’s entire business is founded around the idea of making games for other studios and letting them take the credit, but I don’t think Capcom deserves the right to given how absolutely out of touch and incapable they’ve become, or how important a symbol Revelations is to their fanbase. It’s the first good RE game in ages, and certainly the first in a long time to feel like Resident Evil, so Capcom refusing to even acknowledge that they might have had less than everything to do with that irks me. Not to mention that they’ve done this before (see: Street Fighter X Mega Man, which they tried to position as a gift from Capcom to fans in celebration of Mega Man’s anniversary rather than as a free game that was already finished before they decided to co-opt it and have the developer release it through them so that it would look like Capcom was in some way responsible for or even involved with it).

        • DrScuttles says:

          *cough* I actually enjoyed the Wii Dead Rising. It was like a leisurely stroll through a Resident Evil 4 shopping centre.

      • sabrage says:

        Oh I know you didn’t just call Rocket Slime “shovelware”! Nuh-uh, no way.

  3. RobertJSullivan says:

    Just a small information post for the few people who never heard of this RE episode.

    Revelations is more like a mix between old REs for the exploration/puzzles and the emphasis on atmosphere and RE4/5 for the gunplay and weapon upgrading. You can explore the ship as you wish (with areas being locked at the beggining of the game obviously). For those of you who liked RE6 gunplay, the dodge/roll/slide/counter mechanic is gone but you can still shoot while moving.
    The game also has a multiplayer mode that greatly differs from Mercenaries, here’s a post that explains it (obviously a biaised opinion but it explains the mode’s mechanics well) ;
    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=51151038&postcount=969

    EDIT : Oh and forgot to tell this but the campaign is solo only though there’s some parts where you get to play with other characters or as other characters (pretty much like Ada/Sherry in RE2).

  4. DarkFarmer says:

    Although this is clearly a story about “Resident Evil: Revelations”, I would like to use this as an opportunity to warn everybody that “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” is one of the worst movies of all time, giving a solid run against Battlefield Earth and Wing Commander (although not beating out either of those. Maybe beating out wing commander, at least that was funny).

    • Panda Powered says:

      It’s so bad-bad I had apparently forgotten it existed even though I saw it just a couple of months ago.
      I had to watch a trailer on youtube to even remember anything from the movie.
      What the hell!? :P

  5. Dominic White says:

    I’m going to be the grand anomaly here and say that RE5 didn’t really know what it wanted to be, but RE6 was a *great* game to play with your best friend. The entire thing is absolutely built around back-to-back buddy movie action, and the melee-centric combat system means that team combos are the best way to deal damage, rather than straight shooting.

    It’s a very different game to RE4. In 4, shooting was the source of 90% of your damage to enemies. In 6, it’s maybe 40%, even in Chris’ (supposedly) cover-shooting-based campaign. You’re trying to get up close, stun enemies, then combo them into submission.

    • rabish12 says:

      If you were doing most of your damage in RE4 by shooting stuff, you probably weren’t playing it right. For a majority of the game, a shot to the knee to stun and a suplex chaser was by far the most effective way to take down enemies (especially since it made it a lot less likely that their heads would explode into scythes or some similar monster).

      • grenadeh says:

        Uh wrong. In mercenaries, yea. In the actual game, no. You can;t suplex a gatling gun ganados, or a guy shooting a rocket launcher at you from across the map. Or a garrador. Or a boss. None of that applies to RE6 at all because it is free melee, not based on prompts. You get finishing moves of course, but to actually do those you have to shoot or melee them first, and either way you are stupid for not shooting everything in the game at least once.

    • Ex-PFC Wintergreen says:

      I have to agree, RE6 is a fantastic co-op fighting game. The problem is that people seem to think it’s either a horror game like amnesia or a cod-like shooter when in reality it’s more like Zeno Clash, with guns. (I know Zeno Clash has guns)

      If you actually read the reviews of RE6 the complaints really just boil down to “it’s not horror” (but the series hasn’t been horror for years) or “shooting mechanics are mediocre” (the shooting mechanics are the exact same as in 4 & 5, all they’ve done is made melee more important and added dodging + counter-attacks.)

      • Nick says:

        It’s just a plain not very good game any way you play it, claiming that people were playing it wrong is grasping at straws.

        • Ex-PFC Wintergreen says:

          “It’s just a plain not very good game any way you play it” Attempting to portray your opinion as fact doesn’t make it any less of an opinion.

          “claiming that people were playing it wrong is grasping at straws.” What a thorough, substantiated argument. Clearly there is a lot of reasoning at work here!

          We get it kid, you didn’t like the game. There’s no need to spam the thread with your dislike to try and convince people who liked it that in reality they were fooling themselves and they somehow don’t actually like it.

          There’s nothing wrong with trying to tell people that this is a game they may have liked that they are overlooking.

    • strangeloup says:

      I found RE6 to be both substantially enjoyable (barring a couple of bits that had janky pacing) and long-lasting, even though I was playing it on my own — something which was impossible with RE5 due to how godawful Sheva’s AI was.

      It certainly didn’t hurt that I got it for £11 thanks to an offer on Savygamer, but I’m genuinely baffled that so many people seem to see it as some kind of abomination. There wasn’t a huge emphasis on horror (though certainly there was a bit of Cronenberg-esque body horror, as well as the usual ‘going around a spooky place’ tension; I thought the escalation was quite well handled and gave a feeling of “oh god, everything’s really fucked”) and the plot was hokey, but it always has been.

      Apart from occasional issues with pacing and some dodgy signposting, I found no reason to bring it down below “pretty good”.

      • Nick says:

        Playing resi 5 alone was not impossible at all. The ai was awful and shit and a terrible idea though. Still a much better game than 6 in spite of that.

      • grenadeh says:

        RE5 was actually significantly easier on Professional single player than it was on co-op. I was so pissed when I came home from a co-op session and played the campaign on my own system to find out that it was SO much easier when you don’t have to worry about a teammate missing a button prompt or being too dumb to play correctly, like shooting the lock off of the door at the dock.

        When you say the plot was hokey, you are ridiculously off from the mark. Resident Evil had a consistent, acceptable storyline in RE 1 and 2. Then, they did a few things: They released Wesker’s Report, which was retcon. They released RE3 and publicly proclaimed it was not canon. They then released Code Veronica, the real sequel, and Weskers Report 2 – which necro’d Wesker back to life despite no indication whatsoever in the 1st or 2nd game that he lived. This is what most people don’t understand because they never actually played the games at the time they came out and in the order they came out, so they just eat the bullshit Capcom feeds to them. Then after CV, they port it with CVX, adding even more retcon. After that, REmake, which changes the storyline significantly and then they claim that this is the real storyline, including RE0 which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever – and that RE3 is in fact canon. What’s next? They kill Umbrella off camera with two sentences – bullshit. Nothing after that makes any sense but let’s examine RE6:

        The storyline of RE6 is never actually revealed, because there is no storyline. There’s a plot, yea, evidently – a C-Virus, a new virus, is going around. You see things through four different pairs of eyes. You never get any explanation whatsoever why Chris is an amnesiatic drunkard at the beginning. We assume it’s because Not-Ada got all his men killed and he snapped, and so there’s some flashback involved first. Even putting all the pieces of RE6 together, there is no point to the story. “There’s an infection, we have to stop it.” Not “Weird shit’s going on and we have to get to the bottom of this and stop it because this is getting out of hand and the entire world is at risk but actually it is once you beat the first three campaigns and play Ada’s and get a clue what the fuck is going on.”

        In comparison to RE1. 2. 3. CVX. 4. 5, 0, Survivor, and Outbreak, RE6 is just a jumbled clusterfuck without any direction, story or otherwise. Every other game had a pretty obvious goal and point: investigate the mansion while getting the hell to safety, escape the damn city and find out what’s going on at the same time, escape the island and find out what the hell is going on, and stop Alfred. Parts of RE6 had a point unto themselves – each campaign had a final boss – but as a whole it had no point.

    • Feferuco says:

      RE6 was fun as long as you kept away from Jake’s campaign. I still prefer RE5 though, for co-op. RE6 has too many dumb things.

      • Nick says:

        Really, Jake’s was the only one I enjoyed, aside from the first chapter of Leon’s. Chris’ was an abomination and at least half of Leon’s was terrible QTE filled shite.

        • grenadeh says:

          Ada Wongs original campaign, not the bullshit patched co op version, was the only half survival horror part of the game. They ruined that, fortunately – can’t blemish the package by having the one good part make the others look bad. Jakes campaign was ok but it was still pure shit. It actually had all of the worst parts of the game in one campaign; Ustanak, snow-mobiling with absolutely no indication where to go or what would kill you; sneaking around and ninjaing enemies; tanks. Pure shit. Try doing that shit on co-op.

          On the contrary, Chri’s campaign sucked testicles, but the thing about it was: it’s the only campaign (now – Ada’s used to when it was single player) with any consistency. It starts out bullshit 3rd person shooter. It stays that way until the very end, even including the terrible car chase level. It didn’t try to be cool or flashy with nonsense airplanes, call of duty climbing, train chases, stealth, item search quests, or any of that. And, at least the tank made sense – it was the middle of a war.

          Try playing as Piers on co-op at the last boss and having to explain to your friend how to win when they don’t understand that they are supposed to help you during the last QTE, or that there is a way to get ammo. That shit….

    • grenadeh says:

      False. I bought a second copy of RE6, for my PS3 in addition to Archives on 360, and playing it through a second time with one of my best friends – the entire reason I bought it was to play it with him because he moved to Florida (and sorry but, I know Ohio and Florida are the same state, but we Ohioans don’t go to Florida until we retire. It’s in the Ohioan Handbook.) It is by no means fun to play with your friend. All it will do is make you curse at them whether you played it before and they didn’t, or not. Quick time events should be heresy among video game developers and that game is so slathered in them, you could easily forget it’s supposed to be a game and not Heavy Rain. To reiterate, RE6 should be more than illegal, it should be grounds to dissolve a company and sell it’s IP rights. I knew years before it came out that it was going to suck, but as I always do, i gave Capcom another chance to do right by their fans – their actual fans, not people who think RE4 is sacrosanct. Even knowing they would let me and everyone else down, I pre-ordered that crap. I rationalized it, slightly. Archives came with RE Degeneration, RE:CVX HD, RE4 HD, and RE5 Gold, and RE6. I already owned 2 copies of CV on DC and PS2; I already had purchased not one but two copies of RE5 gold – one was stolen with my first 360; I already had RE4 on GC, PS2, and PC. I did not have Degeneration.

      I figured that even though I owned all of the games, I didn’t own them in that particular fashion on a “modern” system, so for me 80 dollars was a deal to get 1 good game, 1 mediocre game, 2 shitty games, and a good movie that I’d already seen. I regret it either way. Friends be damned, I’ll never buy shit again to play with them until its 5 dollars.

  6. Drake Sigar says:

    Why is the gameplay footage shown normally, but the dev interviews edited in such a way as to accentuate horror?

  7. Natdaprat says:

    So, erm, this is not a PC game?

  8. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Looks appalling. Capcom are going downhill fast ever since Inafune left for calling it the way it is (they make crappy games) their games output has declined noticeably. Lost Planet3 + Revelations should ensure Capcom can continue to blame the outsourcing they previously insisted was working but no-one is going to buy the PC version @ full price it looks like a 3DS game with upscaled textures …. oh wait it is!

  9. Shooop says:

    I’m not sure they quite understand why the first couple of games in the series were “horror”.

    It wasn’t about the fear of your environment and jumpscares, it was the fear of the unknown – the fear that you’d open that door and there’d be a monstrosity waiting to ambush you, make you burn through half your precious bullets to kill it, and then the incredible relief that makes you fall into your chair and exhale deeply when you finally found a save point and heard the soothing, haunting music.

    The first three games had this balancing act down to a science. They can keep the move and shoot at the same time mechanic, that’s great. But when your character can supplex and roundhouse kick almost every enemy he sees to death, there’s nothing to be scared of.

  10. Crosmando says:

    If it doesn’t have fixed/static camera, Ink Ribbon/Typwriter save system, and scarce ammo, it isn’t an RE game. End of story.

  11. Keyrock says:

    I LOVE this game on 3DS. It’s the best Resi game ever in my opinion. Hopefully the port to PC is a good one.

  12. TwwIX says:

    This series lost its charm after Nemesis. Survival and horror, this ain’t no more.

  13. MurderFish says:

    You know what I think would be a good setting for a horror game? The deep sea.

    Imagine if in a game you had to go outside your research submarine or whatever to do repairs while in the marianas trench. It’s dark, darker than anywhere else in the world, so dark you can’t see the ground. Hell the ground below you could be one giant animal itself, you don’t know. There could be millions of creatures waiting to test the taste of this strange creature, but you wouldn’t see any of them coming.

    But you can hear them, God can you hear them. Water carry’s sound better than air, and you can hear clicks and shrieks of a thousand thousand creatures, none of them anything man has ever identified.

    And you’re just floating there, in the abyss, frantically switching between repairing the small fissure in the hull of your craft and looking around you to make sure an errant squid or devilfish doesn’t come by and experiment with the fastenings of your diving suit, the pressure of billions of tons of water hampering your every move.

    And people ask me why I don’t like the open ocean.

  14. edwardh says:

    Well… Let’s call Resident Evil 4 a horror action game, huh?

    Just because one could save frequently and not run out of ammo didn’t make the game feel any less scary what with the chainsaw dudes sawing you apart in one go and people suddenly throwing axes into your back. And not to forget those insanely creepy blind monsters that would hunt via sound.

    I always found it questionable that the lack of saving often and little ammo/healing stuff was what people found so great. In my opinion, horror is supposed to come from the content of a game, not gameplay mechanics that make for cheap thrills.

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