Games are like time bombs. Not with respect to sales, but with respect to the scrutiny they go through. This is especially an aggravated scenario for a series where one game sets phenomenal standards for its successors to follow. And if the follow ups do not live up to the hype, they get bashed to hell. The Resident Evil series is at the Apex of such scrutiny.
When Resident Evil 4 was released, it changed the way people looked at the horror genre. Lots of horror games had come before, many of them achieving great successes both critically and commercially, but none of them combined horror, tension and action to this degree. The game was the absolute pinnacle of survival horror and was a pivotal game in the Game Cube life cycle. It eventually made its way onto the PS2, garnering critical acclaim and commercial success. And as expected, the bar was set too high.
This bar, this hypothetical tower that builds itself whenever something good is created, this is the thing developers must be really getting scared and pissed of. This bar changes everything. It creates expectations, of monumental proportions. And this is what affected the Resident Evil franchise. The fifth game in the series was not a bad game. I actually enjoyed it a lot. The gun play was really improved over the previous games and the enemy AI was better. But what it gained in the action perspective, is what is lost when it came to providing the chills. The game simply did not have the eerie feel of its legendary predecessor, and did not give that feeling of hopelessness. The last feeling a horror game needs to impart a player is that of actually being able to survive, or worse still, of being a badass with great chances of making it out with your head and limbs intact. And this is what most horror developers don’t seem to get these days. And Capcom are no exception to this.
I think what the industry needs is different directions for different genres. These days, action is integrated into almost every game, at the cost of originality, at the cost of the elements which actually made the game good. There is a huge market for the casual gamers out there, and every company is trying to attract that market by making their games more accessible. And accessibility means including elements that people on a large scale will like. But that will not necessarily make a game better or even good compared to what it was. The focus should be on providing a better experience, and not on making one which should cater to many. If what you have created is great, it will garner an audience. This was what Resident Evil 4 did so well, and look how well it sold. With what i’ve been hearing about Resident Evil 6, that does not seem to be the case. And if the future releases follow the same path, then I believe the series as we know it is dead.