May 4, 2021 - Technology

"Resident Evil" producer breaks down the best way to scare players

Illustration of a scary monster in the dark

Courtesy: Capcom

This week's biggest release is "Resident Evil Village," the latest in gaming's most popular horror series. In the new one, players must explore a creepy town and battle its monstrous citizens.

Driving the news: We asked the "RE: Village" producer Tsuyoshi Kanda about how the team figures out how scary their games should be.

Instilling fear in the player is not the only goal: "When we develop a new 'Resident Evil' game, our goal is not always to make it scarier than the previous title, but find a balance to deliver a scary but fun experience for players."

  • For 2017's "Resident Evil 7," they knew they needed to get scarier: "For [that game] our primary focus was returning to our roots and looking back at the original 'Resident Evil' and assessing why it gave birth to the genre of survival horror. We drew heavy inspiration from the first title and wanted to reimagine that level of horror with modern technology. We wanted to place players in very tight spaces, as if the walls of the Baker mansion were closing in on them."
  • The horror works differently in the new one: "For 'Resident Evil Village,' we took an entirely different approach with the openness of the village and players not knowing what might be lurking beyond the trees."
  • In fact, maybe they did overdid it with RE7: "Some of the feedback we received regarding [RE7] that it was too scary to play. In one regard, that’s exactly what we were striving for, so it's a huge compliment for us. But at the same time, it's always our goal to create something that anybody can feel comfortable jumping in and playing, so we eased up on the tension curve [in RE Village] relative to 'Resident Evil 7: Biohazard,' so that players aren't in constant fear."

The bottom line: The big lesson is that players shouldn't be scared all the time.

  • "Something we also always have to pay attention to is the tension curve," Kanda said. "We also find that people grow immune to fear if they're consistently pitted up against a tense situation or environment."
  • "Those moments of solace act as a buffer to make sure that people aren't completely desensitized to the horror. The save rooms that you often see in many 'Resident Evil' games is a great example of that, where players can take a deep breath and know that they are safe."
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