The Father of Survival Horror Wants to Bring Scary Back
Shinji Mikami, the Japanese game designer heralded as The Father of Survival Horror since unleashing Resident Evil unto the world in 1996, says gamers are too inured against being scared these days.
“Not much has changed when it comes to instilling terror in the player,” Mikami said, talking up Edge Online at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. “But people have got used to the tropes of horror and they know what’s coming next, so in that sense it is harder to make them afraid.”
Shinji and his newly constructed team at Tango Gameworks are sure as shit going to try to rattle your nerves, though. Their vessel is the promising, tensely atmospheric The Evil Within – a new survival horror game steeped in classic scares. According to Mikami, it’s not about reinventing the genre; it’s about digging up its roots and latching on to what worked in the first place.
Constant gunplay, sporadic Quick-Time-Events, mindless action – what’s become routine in modern horror games the likes of Dead Space and, sadly, current Resident Evil installments are being done away with in The Evil Within. Contrary to this generation’s teachings, survival relies on far more than a loaded gun.
“The scariest parts will be when you encounter enemies that cannot be killed with a gun,” says Mikami. Instead, you’ll have to use your environment and quick thinking to trap chainsaw swinging freaks lest you’re looking to lose a few feet above your shoulders.
When Bethesda, Tango’s parent company, initially announced the horror title (under the name Zwei), Shinji stated it would be his last directorial effort. A year later and the designer, thankfully, has changed his tune.
“I don’t think I’ll ever completely stop doing creative work,” he said. “We’re a studio that makes things, and that means we need a leader who also makes things. So I don’t think I’ll be taking my hands off the wheel completely. I want to give younger staff the chance to make games – that’s something I’m very passionate about – but I’m not sick of making games or anything. I want to continue in a creative role. That will never change.”