The horror genre is as old as the art of storytelling itself. People have loved the thrill of make-believe terror for centuries. Our dear Edgar Allan Poe defined Gothic literature by painting with words the inside of a madman’s spiralling mind for all to see. Mary Shelley did much the same with her famous novel, Frankenstein, as one madman discovers the secrets to creating life . Bram Stoker brought to life the monsters of old legends in Dracula, a chilling tale of vampires that could too easily pass as human. However, despite the way that violence in media like TV and video games has desensitized people, the excessive violence in horror novels has never raised the same alarm.
Films and video games, however, have been the center of controversy as they increasingly paint the screen red. Films, I would say, more than video games in the pure gore section. Nonetheless, after watching your fair share of pixelated blood and horrific faces jumping across the screen, horror does start to get a bit old. Survival horror games are a dime a dozen these days, so much sot that games like Dead Rising stop taking themselves seriously. Parodies allow for an all new money-making genre, of course, but they also throw a damaging light on any horror game that wants to be serious. I mean, Jingle Bells (from the Dead Rising 4 trailer) was still ringing in my head as I watched the zombie pile grow in Days Gone .
This is terrible! Days Gone is clearly trying to take itself as seriously as a film noir, and we were supposed to feel fear for the main character. But no amount of zombies on the screen is going to scare anyone. The Resident Evil series is no different, having quite the reputation for being an unapologetic zombie/parasite fest of monsters and shotguns. It’s a survival horror game like any other, though one might claim it’s the one that began the trend in the first place. Venerable series though it is, recent entries just haven’t been scary at all.
Yet out pops Resident Evil 7 for PS4 and VR. I think it’s been a long while since a horror game has elicited such a genuine reaction from gamers. I believe I heard someone in the audience just go, “nope!” after the trailer was over, and nervous laughter followed. This trailer looks creepy as hell and unlike a lot of previous Resident Evil games, the atmosphere is allowed to build. So much so that I think everyone is wondering if there is an entirely new story for this game. Much like the transition from zombies to parasites, perhaps for VR we will see another evolution in horror game storytelling. What better way to actually fear for your life than to have to physically run from the monsters in your game?
They’ve shown first person shooters for VR before, but I don’t think any of them have presented the classic lack-of-weapon in a situation where you feel like you need one. This environment, though a classic haunted house, felt new and that old thrill that I remember from playing my first horror game was there again. Frankly, it was amazing and I think VR will definitely send the survival horror genre to new macabre heights.