The Stagnant Aesthetic: Why Survival Horror had not Survived
Within the Survival Horror gaming community, many people often mention a desire for a return to previous camera angles, controls and traditionalist game design.
Where Survival Horror Came From
To begin with, I feel that a clarification of the roots of survival horror must be examined. The defining characteristic of Survival Horror was actually founded in 1992's Infogrames game titled Alone in the Dark, not the often mentioned Resident Evil. Alone in the Dark featured the same cinematic camera angles, controls and puzzle inspired gameplay that would plague the genre as a whole for more than a decade. Between the years of 1992 and 1996, the only similar games were sequels to Alone in the Dark. When Capcom began work on Resident Evil Shinji Mikami took a lot of elements from the 1989 Famicon game Sweet Home, including the loading screens and item management. Survival horror as we know it was born from a conglomeration of a 1992 "action/puzzle" PC game and a 1989 Japanese RPG. The term "Survival Horror" came from a loading screen within the 1996 Resident Evil.
Games to Follow the Trend
Following Resident Evils huge success upon being ported to the more popular Playstation console from the often forgotten Sega Saturn, developers began foaming at the bit to catch up on this new, radical genre. Unfortunately, many of the horror games to follow on the coat tails of Resident Evil followed in its aesthetics and design too closely. Games such as Silent Hill, Overblood and Dinocrisis stuck to the previously established syntax, while the less popular Parasite Eve, Clock Tower II and Echo Night strayed away from Resident evils established
6th Generation to Death
So, we get these awesome 128-bit pieces of hardware. We can see a lot of really cool stuff in these games. So, what will we make? The worst bit of horror games EVER made. Code Veronica x, the Fatal Frame series, Eternal Darkness and Silent Hills 2 and 3 were some of the only games to escape from the pitfalls of the old style of Survival Horror. Games like Haunting Grounds, Siren, Kuon, Obscure, Echo Night and Clock Tower III attempted to take the old style of games (bad camera angles, clunky controls, rough inventory, puzzles) and put a fresh spin on them. Unfortunately, with the collapse of the "Click-and-Point" genre a few years prior to the release of most of these games, puzzles were no long the norm in gaming. People were tired of solving puzzles and wanted the action that PC gamers were used to, now that the new hardware could support it. By the middle of the reign of the Xbox, PS2, Dreamcast and Gamecube, even the venerable Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and Resident Evil franchises hit a wall that was a great road block with the releases of Silent Hill 3, Resident Evil: Outbreak and Fatal Frame III.
Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill 4 and Doom 3 to the rescue
more to come