What survival horror means to me
A lot of fans hate RE6. I'm not one of them. I've played, beaten and love the game for the original ideas that it puts forward. Now, as a fan myself I can see where the hate stems from: Capcom going back on their promise to go back to survival horror. I don't quite remember whether or not Capcom stated RE6 would "go back to the series' roots", but if they did, they weren't lying; they just failed at their meager attempt. But, in regards to RE6, and with an open mind, I can see why the action fans are defending this game; its an engaging, fun experience if you're willing to look past all its shortcomings. In the end, that's what depresses me to a point where I literally want to cry myself to sleep:
Resident Evil 6 is not quite the awesome, over-the-top action game that it clearly wanted to be, and it's not at all the atmospheric, slow-paced, survival experience that it tries to fool long-time fans into believing it is.
No, Resident evil 6 is a cash-grab, plain and simple. Capcom tried to appeal to the survival horror fans, sure, but only in relation to how many they believe there are, as apposed to the number of action/shooter fans. Put those odds on a scale, and it becomes quite clear the direction that RE6 would take, hence why one could say that Resident Evil 6 is merely a horror-flavored action game. Well, why not just appeal to the action/shooter/multiplayer fans with a big budget spin-off game, and appeal to the survival horror fans with a smaller, numbered game? Sounds simple right? I mean, they were already going in that direction if you look at Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS) vs. Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City (home consoles). However, its when you attempt both (Resident Evil 6), that you end up ruining it for mostly everyone. A mistake on Capcom's part. As an open-minded fan of survival horror, I have nothing against linear action games. They're fun, fast, instant experiences. Where I do take issue, is in the arguments I've found online that try to refute survival horror, and even attempt to disregard it entirely.
The argument has been made that RE6, despite abandoning its original genre, needs to be judged on its own merits, and I agree with that 100-err... %50. Although I do agree that you must (especially as a professional reviewer) judge every game based on its own strengths and weaknesses, that only partly applies when you're dealing with sequels. One must be able to balance whatever merits the sequel has with an open-minded analysis of the game as it stands on its own. Some people can do that, some people can't, and some claim that they can but clearly cannot. Now, you can argue about how non-profitable or "un-fun" survival horror is, and you can even attempt to argue that it simply doesn't work anymore, mainly because we've all grown up, and that the effectiveness of a survival horror game depend on its graphical presentation (which would degrade with time). The latter would be, partially, a weak argument. Although it has become harder to scare us with age, the "old graphics" card will only get you so far my dear, ignoramus.
Graphics are only a single element of what makes survival horror scary; they, alongside excellent sound design, art direction, and environments merely create half of the experience; the atmosphere itself. The sense of urgency, high stakes and player decisions constitute the other half of the experience; the strategy. The "high-stakes strategy" is what engages nail-biting gamers like me while the atmosphere merely grounds us within the game's world. Games like Dark Souls and Xcom: Enemy Unknown are perfect examples of high-stake games available on home consoles. Both games put great emphasis on strategy with high-stakes, and neither of these 2 games are survival horror games (although Dark Souls easily could've been). With survival horror (and high-stake strategy games in general), there is actual weight to every decision the player makes, big or small. Every decision yields rewards and consequences that can mean the difference between success and failure, whether immediate or hours from now.
Whether or not I'll make it to that new room, or that I should even attempt the effort and just back-track to a safe room to save my progress first, is MY decision to make, and is why I adore Survival Horror. Should I clear out this room of monsters, or save my ammo for what could be ahead? This kind of second-guessing and even paranoid decision making reflects that of a traditional top-down strategy game. The game puts the player in charge like a real-time strategy game would, putting great emphasis on quick decision making, and micro-managing resources. However, the game also grounds the player within the world itself like a 1st/3rd person game, creating a sense of vulnerability within the player: their every decision no longer affects countless units, they affect the player's own safety and survival. That, and the game's atmopshere constantly toys with the player's sense of well-being, making them question every noise in the distance, every shadow that their flashlight can't reach. It's a dark, cruel world that you've been thrust into. Will you survive? Will you make it out alive?
The game doesn't care.
and that's why I do.