Imagine a dark house.
You walk cautiously down the hall with shotgun in hand, nervously scanning
from side to side for the enemy. There's a faint creak as your feet tentatively
weigh down the aging wood. Then, suddenly, zombies! Everywhere! Gradually
stumbling down the hallway in your general direction! "Uhhh. Uhhh.
Uhhh," the leader says over and over. You try to run, but end up
turning around in circles out of confusion! You try to shoot, but you've
forgotten to hold down the shoulder button to draw the gun which is already
in your hand!! The zombies are all over you now, biting, ripping and vibrating
your controller! With a final pained scream, you fall down dead as the
zombies continue to recycle animations at your lifeless body.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD
OF SURVIVAL HORROR.
Survival Horror is
one of the two or three 'new' genres invented in the past five years.
It attempts to bridge the gap between the repetitive gameplay of action
games, with the fetching of pointless items that endear RPG's to people
with too much free time. Capcom claims great pride in inventing it with
their Resident Evil series. However, as early as Pac-Man, games have incorporated
the elements of item-gathering and running from curiously invincible enemies.
So what makes survival horror Survival Horror? In my somewhat extensive
research, I've discovered the key elements.
- Dreary, muddled
backgrounds. This is done not only to enhance mood and camouflage the
monsters, but to make it really hard to find the important items. Remember,
frustration over menial tasks is what sells the game!
- Appropriate voice
acting. All Survival Horror characters must sound as though they jogged
to the recording session in summer heat. They will then record the lines
until exhausted at which they begin taping the zombie dialogue. "Uhhhh...
- Limited equipment.
To enhance the realism of the (PURELY FICTIONAL WITH NO POSSIBILITY
OF BECOMING REALITY) scenario, you will have an arsenal of incredibly
weak guns with five bullets each. However, you can effortlessly carry
six items at any given time regardless of size. You can store excess
equipment like the trillion keycards, jewels, and houseplants inside
Magic Boxes throughout the place. Magic Boxes are magic because if you
put say, a Glock in the box in the basement, and decide you need it
while upstairs, you'll find the same Glock in the attic. These may be
the same forces that created the zombies and monsters.
- Things will crash
through the windows at some point. Whether it's the dogs in Resident
Evil, or the raptors in Dino Crisis, something will crash through some
window at any given point in the game. This means that Chrono Trigger
and TMNT: The Arcade Game have Survival Horror Elements and are therefore
great by association! Or maybe that's the other way around.
With the guidelines
set down, let's move on to highly opinionated, psuedo-in-depth coverage
of individual titles.
Evil: The ur-game from which Survival Horror games burst from
in a gory chest explosion. The patented character-relative control scheme
makes its debut!
Crisis: Yet another eccentric scientist type has been screwing
around with nature, and this time you fight unkillable dinosaurs instead
of immobile zombies.
Survival Horror: Take a look back across the history of gaming as
I attempt to figure out exactly what went wrong besides the obvious
part where Capcom tested biological and psychological weapons on players.