Semantics! So goes the old dismissal, but semantics can be everything. They seem pretty important to Resident Evil originator Shinji Mikami, who has spent his career trying to distinguish his style from some of his genre peers.
“In games in Japan, a typical horror game is something like Clock Tower or Silent Hill,” he explains. “But survival horror, the kind of game I like to create, is also entertainment. The horror aspect of the game and the entertainment aspect of the game have to mix together.”
It’s perhaps a niche distinction that most of us have never thought to make – and even Mikami admits that it’s a “close genre”. But he told Wired that in his games, in contrast to Silent Hill and its ilk, the player can defeat the monsters and “feel good about it”.
“You have to have that sense of being able to defeat a monster, even if it’s tough,” he went on.
“I’ve made Evil Within to be a very difficult game but when you finish the game, you will feel a sense of achievement. It is scary, but don’t be scared too much.”
No amount of distancing by Mikami can prevent his staff from drawing inspiration from Silent Hill, however.
“The character designers on The Evil Within love the games,” he said.
Is Mikami’s genre definition one you recognise? You’d never expect to be able to kill the monsters in an Amnesia game, I suppose.