Horror Video Games: Are Resident Evil and the Others an Evolution of Horror Cinema?

Horror Video Games: Are Resident Evil and the Others an Evolution of Horror Cinema?

Horror Video Games

Since its inception, the world of video games has been able to amaze with the enormous variety that, step by step, it has been increasingly able to offer its audience. If at the beginning the videogame medium was mostly an academic question, with many experiments and attempts far from what we know today, with the passing of the decades things have absolutely changed. And not a little. Today's scenario confronts us with a situation where anyone can, at any single moment, draw from a choice of titles and experiences from many, many different genres. This process has only increased the importance of the video game as an (increasingly) integral part of everyday life, but also of what we can call popular culture.

Among the many strands touched upon, Horror is perhaps one of those that has a greater density in terms of material. We think of sagas like Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Alone in the Dark, but also the more recent The Evil Within and Little Nightmares. Different experiences between them but united by a common thread, which we can find in a strong inspiration towards genre cinema… With something more. What? This is exactly what we want to talk about today, starting with a leap back a few decades.

Horror videogames: a long and scary path.

Let's start from an assumption: today we will not dwell on the difference between the various Horror sub-genres, as the goal of this piece is everything. other. What we want to do is analyze and understand how and to what extent Horror video games can, from many points of view, turn out to be a real evolution of the films that have written the history of cinema.

The first examples of Horror video games can be found in the early eighties with works such as 3D Monster Maze or various Japanese titles, the latter strongly inspired by horror films that ranged from Alien to Asian films of several years earlier. The landing in the mainstream takes place in the mid-decade with products like Castlevania and Sweet Home, which later will influence a fundamental series like Resident Evil. | ); }
Clock Tower (1995) The nineties will then see the definitive explosion of the Horror trend within the videogame medium: in fact, just think of the quantity (and quality) of the franchises born in this period. It is here that Horror video games begin to develop as a natural evolution of genre cinema, with many small elements inherited from the so-called dream factory. Frames, scripts, sound effects and situations that until recently we only found in films, were re-proposed within the various Resident Evil and Silent Hill in an increasingly natural and automatic way.

The great authors of the time, such as Shinji Mikami and Keita Amemiya, had managed to raise the bar further by reaching a clear and defined goal: this type of video game was able not only to entertain, but to arouse a new kind of emotion within the player. An emotion that responds to the name of terror. Transmitting any sensation is not always easy, but in recent years we are witnessing a real turning point from this point of view. A great little revolution born of cinema, if we think about it: in fact, by adopting languages ​​and formats from the best-known films, the video game gained a fundamental influence while managing to create its own identity. | ); }

Resident Evil 2 Remake (2019) Over the years, in short, Silent Hill was no longer conceived and received as a work influenced by horror cinema, but as a masterpiece capable of ( re) define such a rich and multi-faceted genre. The videogame had therefore managed, once again, to assert its value as an independent experience disconnected from everything that pop culture means.

Horror video games and cinema: the value of interaction.

A little while ago we mentioned some elements that Horror video games have inherited from the films we all know, from the sound sector to a particular choice of shots. These are determining factors in transmitting a particular feeling of fear, and that if taken care of properly they can really change the cards: have you ever realized, just to give an example, how important is the right music at the right time?

Silent Hill 2 (2001) Another example is Resident Evil 7, in all probability the true rebirth of the Capcom saga. Compared to the predecessors we find here a change of course not just, with a courageous choice that has redefined the series as the public knew it: going from the third person to a first person perspective, result in hand, allowed the developers to make all an even more frightening experience. The player is in fact involved in an increasingly marked way in terror, anguish and all those components that have made Resident Evil the franchise that the whole world has come to appreciate. A brand that, with a "simple" change of perspective, has managed to (re) build its own identity while taking its cue from some very popular titles of previous years.

Two different situations but which bring us back to the heart of the matter: is the Horror video game an evolution of genre cinema? In these cases, yes, it is in effect the next step. If in a masterpiece like The Shining the soundtrack is central to building the experience of vision, in Silent Hill the concept is exactly the same. Just as the shots make Psyco and Resident Evil works capable of terrifying the viewer, or player, who finds himself experiencing them directly.

What makes the video game an even more significant Horror experience, however, is a very specific factor: the interaction. Unlike a cinematographic film, where the end user is in fact a passive receiver of the work, in a video game he is involved and can act and interact actively. With all that goes with it.

It goes without saying how and how much all this has had an impact on the collective imagination: in recent years we have almost witnessed a sort of "overtaking" of the videogame medium on the cinematographic one, obviously always talking about the Horror genre. This is because a product of this type actually manages to strike in a deeper way as it is more engaging, leveraging the possibility of requesting action from the end user and thus making it an integral part of the terror he is experiencing.

The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015) No, we are absolutely not giving up horror cinema: a genre that, on the contrary, has been reliving a kind of new one especially in recent years life with many films capable of bringing something really new and never seen before. Think of the works of directors such as Jordan Peele and Robert Eggers, who in just a few years managed to revolutionize the concept of Horror that the public had built up with years and years of films, even at the highest level. A process that will influence (as has already happened in the past) the world of video games? Probably yes: after all, and history shows, one of the strong points of this era is the increasingly accentuated cross-media nature of entertainment experiences. A factor that, as spectators or players as we are, can only make us feel lucky to live in such an exceptional era.

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