Reflecting on Resident Evil Franchise As a Survival Horror Genre

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I don’t know what happened, but gradually over the few years, I begin to lose interest in Resident Evil franchise despite the fact,  I enjoy playing all of  the RE games, but I think I’m getting tired of playing them and I’m losing faith that it will ever return to its roots as a survivor horror genre.

It all started  with RE4, RE5 and RE6 on how the games are broken into chapters/campaigns. At the end of each chapter, I was given a”report card” on how well I did:  hit ratio, number of time killed, enemies routed etc. Because I am forced to acknowledge my performance, I spent more time focusing on how well I played and not so much about the survival aspect of the game.  This report card sort of destroyed the survivor horror experience  I had with RE1, RE2 and RE3.

I remember the earlier Resident Evil games were more story-driven and suspenseful. For example, in RE1, the characters are chased into the mansion. The mansion seems like a haven in the middle of the woods. They thought they are safe, but they are wrong. As they venture deeper into the mansion, they uncover its secret. Then with the realization that they might end up as zombies, they attempt to escape, knowing what they uncover is epidemic. To escape from something horrific is survivor horror.

I didn’t feel this way about RE4, RE5 and RE6.  There is too much action going on in these games which make it difficult for me to follow Resident Evil’s timeline. Both RE4 and RE5 are very similar, in terms of structure. The environment did not feel claustrophobic. It didn’t make me feel as if I need to escape since I am already out in the open. In RE4,  the appearance of the Merchant acknowledges that this is a shooting game. It allows me to tune up my weapons right before when there is a serious zombie action event.  RE5 is even worse, in terms of survivor horror,  Chris and Sheva are given handguns right after they walk pass the villagers.  The way how the handgun is given RE5 is not subtle compared to RE1, when Chris finds a handgun on the floor in the lobby and wonders where Jill and Wesker disappear to. Lastly, RE6 starts out dramatically with explosion. This is just a pure action-based game.

My argument is that the way how RE4 , RE5 and RE6 were introduced and narrated, made it less suspenseful, which in turn, made it less about survivor horror. So I can’t say whether I am too excited about RE7. RE games have always been cinematic but how well it is executed will determine whether it falls into the survivor horror category or not. I wish I could enjoy the demo, but sadly the first person-view  made me sick. I think I am going to wait for this one to go on sale instead of playing on launch day.

December Gaming

It’s been awhile since I post something. I don’t have the energy to game religiously as I used to when life was more carefree. 🙂 But games are not too far from mind. It still occupies most of my thoughts when I get bored. And oh boy, there are a lot of games to play but not all them are worth the time. I have to be selective and try to mix games up so I don’t get burnt out playing the same old thing. Here are some games I really want to take the time to appreciate.

1.

night-cry

If you enjoyed Clock Tower series, then this game might be worth your time. I am surprised that it got a low rating from Destructoid. I never trust game reviews, considering people have different taste in games. I will play it and see whether I like it. I miss games from the PS2 era.

2.

ikaruga

This is a ‘shoot em up’ game. It is very beautiful and the soundtrack is nice. Can play single  or co-op. Co-op might be fun, I wonder if I could play with random people because   most of my friends are casual gamers.  This type of game is not appealing to them.

3.

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I played Resident Evil 4 on PS2, and surprisingly enjoyed it very much. So I bought PS4 version. I am looking forward to the mercenaries mode.

I will quit making a list for now since December is ending within weeks and the New Year is approaching. I highly doubt I will finish these games. But if I don’t make a list and focus I will never finish these games I want to enjoy so much.  But of course, my life is not revolved around these games. They are just great companions when I need a break 🙂

Anyway, hope you all enjoy the holidays with your  love ones. Take care! 😀

Kuon: An Enlightening Survival-Horror Video Game

Kuon, developed by FromSoftware, was one of the survival-horror video games I tried to squeeze in the month of October because of Halloween, but I ended up playing it into November.  It took me a month to complete  because I took my time and did not play every day. You can complete the game in 10 hours or less. Despite the short length of the game, Kuon is exceptionally great and is now on my top list of favorite games. Let me explain.

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The art direction in this game is superb as it reveals a simple but strong plot. The  use of sound effects and music created an intense horrific and isolating atmosphere. There were a few times, I was startled.  And yet, at times, it was not all scary. The sound of nature (i.e footsteps, stream, wind) can be heard throughout the game, giving life to the atmosphere.

The placement of the sound effects ( monsters groaning, monk chanting in the temple, the twins singing) in the game were not overdone or overused. They all served a purpose and integrated really well to build suspense and tension. They also acted as subtle cue to steer me to the right direction, without acknowledging that I was playing the game. I was in the game.

Lastly, the three different protagonists (all females with unique personality)  which were played in three different phases, summarized the story so well that it left me feeling awe and sorrowfully happy.

Because of the game’s art direction, I was drawn to the game and understood the plot. This game is about the perversion of immortality. The father is so  driven to perfect the spells at the expense of his own daughter’s life and his disciples that he loses his humanity. The father, an authoritative figure, is evil and must be defeated by  the master exorcist, who is like a motherly figure. She rebukes the father and put things back in order.

This was the impression I got from the playing the game. Without the  art direction in this game, the story might have not been told well. It might have been another horror video game. But this one is special. It taught me something: We will die one day, why not enjoy the life we are given now in the present moment instead of tampering with something beyond our scope of reasoning?

 

 

 

Some Games Make Me Think

So I’ve been thinking awhile about an interview on Drakengard 3–why Zero, the protagonist is so adamant on killing all her sisters after watching an interview with Yoko Taro.  I realized that it’s human nature to conquer and control. Power is control.  What is exposed and what is most popular become accepted as truth even if it may be wrong.  Zero had no real reason to kill her sisters, she just want to get rid of them. But of course, I might be wrong.

I am replaying the game because I remember the story vaguely since I played it about two years ago.  My interest has perked up again  as I am anticipating for  Nier  Automata. This  type of  game is not just fun,  it actually made me think outside the box.

For me personally, this is the type of game, I’d like to see more. Try Nier, if you haven’t already.  Some videogames are like books. I think it stimulates the brain positively.

 

Dark Souls: What the Bonfire Says about Humanity

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The story in Dark Soul is subtle and deep. But  I won’t go into details about the lore. What I want to do is explain the story from a philosophical perspective. After playing all three installments, I get the impression that  Dark Souls series is explaining what it means to exist and most importantly the meaning of humanity by using the bonfire to illustrate its points.

Looking at the bonfire closely, it is not just a mere bonfire. A sword thrusts into the flames of human ashes. This implies the sexual interaction between man and woman–to procreate is to exist and thus succeed.

From Dark Souls prologue, we know that fire gives life, but what I found very interesting  is the statement from the narrator:”from the dark they came and found the souls within the flame.” Whatever this darkness is, it causes something to ignite within, driven to succeed and conquer.

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So this explains why the non-playable characters seem to have lost sight of their own purpose or why they are even existing at all. Cale the Cartographer points out that there is “something greatly comforting about the flame. It seems to fulfill something very precious, deep within the soul…something essential.” The Undead is naturally  attracted to the flame that gives warmth. Therefore, time and again, the phrase: “May the Flames Guide Thee” is often used in the game. Just how important it is for the fire to remind the Undead of its humanity. By doing so, the bonfires are not just checkpoints to meet the final destination. The bonfires play a significant role in the story as they are “corporeal manifestation” of each Fire keepers’ soul  (Dark Souls I item description). The Fire keepers tend to the bonfire and the Undead, protecting the flame.  Think about it, when there’s no  warmth, we are dead physically and mentally. And Lucatiel from Dark Souls II explains this very well:

“Undead gradually loses his humanity, until his wits degrade completely. Finally, he turns Hollow, and preys upon others. And a Hollow can never be human again.”

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Another example that an Undead gradually loses his wit is the gaming mechanic in Dark Souls I. The more you kill, the more you increase your humanity. This implies that  the player is stealing life from others in order to gain souls. After all, the Undead is cursed to become Hollow and “preys on men [and] feeds upon their souls (Dark Souls II prologue).”

So this brought me to the question: Am I evil for enjoying Dark Souls series? And the answer is no because Dark Souls series is not all dark and sinister. There is warmth in it. Because to acknowledge that we can go Hollow (mad) and acknowledge that human is neither good nor bad only reinforce the question what is humanity.  To question our motives and realize our doings show that we are not entirely mad just yet and we ought to cling onto whatever warmth we have left to keep from going Hollow.

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And if you ask me what defines  humanity, I am not quite sure yet what it means in the game. I feel that I need to investigate more. But  for now,  I’d say civilization are built with an understanding and respect for the needs of every human beings. I think this is the reason why the Greek god Zeus, protector of guests,  favors hosts that provide good hospitality.  Civilized people acknowledge that other people feel the same hunger and coldness as they do. So without warmth, the flame, we are dead both physically and mentally.  And according to the item description in Dark Souls I, “the soul is the source of life and whether Undead or even Hollow, one continues to seek them.” What are we without the soul? We cease to exit. So yes, the game is about dark souls.