Scare me senseless
Since I was a child, the horrific always fascinated me. That’s not to say that I was brave enough to enter any haunted attraction on a whim – because, as a child, I was terrified – but I was certainly intrigued. As the hands of fate had it, I became close friends with a horror buff who insisted on having me play Resident Evil and Silent Hill. And boy, did those two games really change the outlook of my childhood.
I’ve always felt close to both franchises for varying reasons. I felt Resident Evil encompassed more gamers, especially when Resident Evil 4 hit the market. These games were accessible, even if the control schema didn’t quite make sense. Silent Hill, however, really embodied what I wanted in a horror atmosphere. The games were creepy and meaningful, the plots usually made you think, and the disturbing elements felt real. Learning that Silent Hill 2 was built around James’ guilt, and Pyramid Head was the embodiment of that guilt was brilliant. The game goes for Silent Hill: Downpour, where each character in the game has to deal with their own personal hell in the form of the Bogeyman.
Both franchises, of course, kept with a very similar and standard style of gameplay throughout the years. Sure, both Resident Evil and Silent Hill played around with new gameplay elements and even dedicated games to rail shooters, the Wii motion controls, and online multiplayer; but the canonical games held tight. That is, of course, until the emergence of P.T. As I wrote earlier, P.T. inspired a slew of Kickstarter funded games that sought to provide gamers with the same terrifying experience as P.T. Two of those games were Allison Road (recently cancelled) and Visage (recently funded).
With that said, it appeared that the impact of P.T., the promotional teaser for Silent Hills – Hideo Kojima’s brainchild with Guillermo Del Toro and Norman Reedus – was confined to indie developers and games. And I was complacent with that knowledge, hoping to experience a first person horror game that affected me the way P.T. and its subsequent cancellation did. Then Sony’s E3 press conference debuted.
I was lying in bed on my honeymoon in Puerto Rico. My wife, an early-to-bed kind of woman, fell fast asleep; had been, in fact, for at least an hour. Our editor-in-chief, Paul, posted on Facebook how Sony already won E3. Of course, what else am I to do but tune in? Thankfully, Sony streamed their press conference via Facebook, so I was able to catch gameplay of Horizon: Zero Dawn. Then came the VR segment. As an aside, I’ve always been interested in VR, but I’ve never been sure if it was for me; I’ve been afraid of Sony’s side projects since the Move and Vita both met unfortunate demises (though I still love my Vita).
As I watched the conference, the presentation screen faded to black and slowly regained its vision. A hand pushed itself up from an old, wooden floorboard, and what ensued was a graphically gorgeous exploration of a horrifying, abandoned old house. I watched this presentation intensely, expecting, hesitantly, something to jump out at me; but it never did. The atmosphere on its own did a fine job. So the exploration of the house continued, filled with ghostly figures walking out of view, cockroach infested kitchens, and the discovery of a VHS tape. At the end of the short demo presentation, the camera flung away from the house, and Resident Evil VII (seen as Resident EVII) melted on screen.
With the excitement that followed, I texted my brother to begin downloading the demo on my PS4. Having since played the demo, I feel the need to express my sincere hope. If Resident Evil VII succeeds, Capcom will have provided me with the game I’ve been waiting for since P.T. The evolution of horror has brought us here, where technology now allows for the full immersion of gamers and the hopeful innovation of developers. With or without VR, the future of horror gaming appears to be quite promising.