Resident Evil 4 was completely different from previous games in the series. It was very much a horror game, but the tank-like controls, static cameras, and frustrating puzzles were all replaced by more intuitive controls, a third-person over-the-shoulder camera, and a brand new enemy: Los Ganados. Getting rid of one of the fundamental things the series was based on—the zombies—was a pretty huge gamble for Capcom, but I think it's safe to say that the gamble paid off. Not only was Resident Evil 4 the most successful game in the series at the time, it's also widely considered one of the best games of that console generation; its legacy lives on through the games it inspired, like the Gears of War series.
Resident Evil 4 was a turning point for the survival horror genre. It was a natural—albeit sudden—evolution of a genre that was beginning to show its age. Other series that attempted similar makeovers were largely unsuccessful, like Silent Hill: Homecoming in 2009, which was heavily inspired, at least visually, by the 2006 film adaptation of the Silent Hill series. Seeing the world shift into the dark and twisted Otherworld, much like it did in the film, never grew old, it's just unfortunate that its story was largely nonexistent, the characters were unlikable, and the gameplay as a whole was painfully dull. Alone in the Dark also tried a similar renovation in 2008, but was even less successful despite having quite a few promising ideas and an incredible soundtrack.
Then a couple weeks before Halloween, just a few months after the less-than-stellar game that was Alone in the Dark, Dead Space arrived, and our collective mind was blown yet again. Dead Space borrowed heavily from Resident Evil while adding a sci-fi twist to it all. The inventory management was simplified, it was in the third-person perspective where you aimed with a laser sight, and there was some light item management. The camera also made its way into the game, only this time it was improved with the addition of melee moves and the ability to strafe. Dead Space's most intriguing contribution was a term that's since become one of my favorite gaming terms: "strategic dismemberment." You see, the only way to vanquish the terrifying Necromorphs that come at you is by severing their limbs from their bodies until they're nothing but a squishy pile of bones and chunks of flesh. After Resident Evil 5's more Michael Bay-esque approach to horror, Dead Space has become—or is on its way to becoming—this generation's Resident Evil. Only time will tell if this ends up being true as we anxiously await Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6, both of which are rumored to be pretty different from previous games in their respective series.
As it is, the survival horror genre has largely faded away. For many, our time with the first couple Silent Hills, Resident Evils, and Fatal Frames are now fond memories. It's not a bad thing that the genre is changing, because change is good. Change has brought us amazing games like Resident Evil 4, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, Condemned, F.E.A.R., Alan Wake, and a ton of other equally as memorable games. For the most part, the days of anxiously conserving ammo and spending hours on puzzles are now just pieces of a relic from the past. The times, they are a-changin', and it's time to embrace that. If the horror genre has proven anything since its inception over two decades ago, it's that it's one hell of a ride.
By Shelby Reiches
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*