For many (myself included), survival horror began 15 years ago, with the release of the divisive-yet-adored Resident Evil 4. Launched exclusively at the time for the Nintendo GameCube, but now has found it’s way ported to many consoles.
A new kind of horror.
This wild departure from the confined halls and claustrophobic structures of its predecessors marked a change for the franchise. A chance that would carry through for many more installments.
Even now, Capcom recreates some of the classic Resi titles in a modified version of the image that was forged with 4.
The resonance of Resident Evil 4 doesn’t end with its own franchise, though. Franchises like Gears of War and The Evil Within owe their success to the trail being forged by Leon S. Kennedy as he battled Las Plagas.
Many didn’t appreciate the series taking this direction. In fairness, the games that followed it would slowly eschew the horror stylings that were still present in 4, to eventually enter into action movie territory.
While this may be true, few can deny the feeling of terror that comes with being chased through a closed house by a man wielding a chainsaw. Despite all its action flair, RE4 still managed to be utterly exhausting with its scares.
Today, Capcom has brought much of the old sensibilities back. Resident Evil 7 sees you confined once again to a claustrophobic, single venue, and Resident Evil 2‘s award-winning remake feels so much like the old days that it hurts.
I think the best way to look at it is this: while it caused the franchise to enter into a bit of turmoil, it also became the juggernaut it is today.
If it weren’t for Los Illuminados, who knows where Resi would be. With that in mind, let’s wish 4 a happy 15th birthday. Here’s to many new ports!