Does Resident Evil 7’s Success Point to a Newfound Future for the Series?

Resident Evil 7 deserves all the praise it has received. After recent modern big budget horror games barely feeling scary at all, it was a much needed re-invigoration of the classic survival horror concept. If Silent Hills had ever come to fruition, we’d likely see similar excitement — just recall how wonderfully P.T. was received. Gamers are apparently ravenously hungry for terrifying titles. Indie developers have attempted to satiate this craving for the past few years, but nothing seems to quell the need. Resident Evil 7 stokes these flames further by showing how utterly nightmarish – and engaging – horror games can be.

Fans of the series (original, recent, or both) are very aware of its evolution. What was originally an immensely clunky, yet scary series turned into something focused far more on action than ever trying to truly scare folks. While some of the key characters and concepts remained throughout the series, it was otherwise hard to compare something like Resident Evil 5 to Resident Evil on PlayStation 1. Even Resident Evil 7 does not completely pair up with the original concepts thanks to its inclusion of more modern styling. As of now, gamers are having a blast playing through the game and uncovering all its secrets.

Will this trend continue if Capcom utilizes Resident Evil 7 as a new jumping off point for future titles? So far, the game has been impressively successful (selling through 2.5 million units so far). It’s obvious that this move by Capcom has been one long awaited by the gaming populace. But why were gamers so in need of an experience like this? It appears that this was partially due to the trajectory of the series – and big budget horror in general. With everything so focused on action there was little room for actual terror in the horror genre. Long time fans either moved onto indie games for their horror fix or begrudgingly accepted what little scares they received from modern titles. Resident Evil 7’s release was a serious hallelujah moment for these folks.

Others who may not have been so invested in horror or Resident Evil were still aware of the series changing tremendously over the years. Jumping in with the seventh game in a series would normally be inadvisable for players. Fortunately, Resident Evil 7 is so divergent that newcomers are excited to jump aboard right now. There’s little doubt that Capcom likely intends to push further down this road of survival horror with future games given their current and resounding success. The thing is, the horror genre is always in a state of flux. For example, while around the 2000s it was supremely popular to have protagonists who cannot fight back at all, this gameplay mechanic eventually fell out of style before being somewhat reborn with Amnesia. Chances are, this current survival horror movement will pass as well.

Even if and when the horror genre moves on, however, it will likely be hard to ignore Resident Evil. Resident Evil 7 is not quite in line with past or present titles which is what makes it such a standout release. Just like surprise hit Until Dawn, both fans and non fans of horror found themselves utterly transfixed. This game carries enough scary moments along with its superb characterization and storytelling that it lures in much more than genre fans. A welcoming environment like this helps to sidestep changing trends in the industry.

That’s not to say that Capcom will not eventually return to a path where shooting is king. As of now, however, all signs point to the Resident Evil train sticking to its newfound track. Horror fans will benefit with not only this release but other unrelated games launching in its wake now that horror is cool again. Players in general who enjoyed their time with Resident Evil 7 are also likely to get another game similar to it in the series’ near future. Hopefully Capcom doesn’t take the easy way out and create a sequel with all the same exact gameplay and concepts. Resident Evil 7 works because it takes a bold step forward rather than resting entirely on its past success. Reinvention is required to keep gamers engaged. Hopefully a (currently hypothetical) Resident Evil 8 will bear that in mind.