Resident Evil: Revelations Interview – Masachika Kawata Talks Horror, Transitions, RE: Outbreak and the Series' Roots
Written Wednesday, February 06, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Resident Evil brought survival horror to the mainstream way back in 1996, arguably kickstarting a renewed interest in zombies and creature features in the process. Fixed camera angles, static scenery and lateral thinking gradually gave way to a third-person perspective, movie-style production values and cinematics, becoming the more action-focused Resident Evil we know today.
With Resident Evil 6 dividing fans, while Resident Evil: Revelations garnered a more positive reception on the Nintendo 3DS, the franchise is still one with an interesting future ahead of it, with a lot of potential to explore new avenues. Heading out to Capcom's London HQ, we took some time out to talk to Producer, Masachika Kawata about all things Resident Evil, as the HD remake of Revelations wings its way to home consoles.
Talking zombies, horror and Resident Evil's roots, Kawata was surprisingly candid about the long-running survival horror series, giving some rather intriguing answers. Read on to find out more about Resident Evil's past, present and future.
How much of a challenge has it been adapting a Nintendo 3DS game for home consoles?
Obviously we've taken the opportunity to redo the graphics for HD consoles and TVs, but we haven't just stopped at the visual assets. We've also tightened up the gameplay and made some tweaks and additions.
What gameplay additions and mechanics have you made to the console version of Resident Evil: Revelations? Has it had to lose anything?
We haven't really lost anything in the transition, but in addition to the general improvements we've just mentioned, specific additions include the new 'Infernal' difficulty mode, additional Raid Mode content like new weapons, new custom parts, that kind of thing. There's just a general increase in content.
Could you tell us more about the enemies and other new content?
Raid Mode is one example of something that should really please fans of the series, as Hunk, one of the fan favourite characters in the series is making an appearance for consoles, so that's an exciting new addition. In terms of the campaign, with the chance to bring the game to consoles, being able to increase the level of details on enemies is one great aspect that makes it even scarier than before. For example, the 'Ooze'. Their hands were a little less detailed on the 3Ds version, but with the additional graphical fidelity on home consoles, they're lot more detailed and gross. They have more human-like hands and with the extra detail afforded in HD, there's a lot more detail, so this kind of thing should be a great new addition.
Story-wise, Revelations slots in between Resident Evil 4 and 5, but are there any direct references or characters that crossover between the games, apart from Chris and Jill, obviously?
One thing in particular that will be made clear and is an interesting hook between the games for fans, is the BSAA: the organisation that Chris is working for and first appears in Resident Evil 5. With Revelations being set before RE5, you'll get to see how it came about and how Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield came to be involved with the BSAA, so that's something that fills in the gaps in the game's history for fans.
Why do you think Resident Evil: Revelations is a modern Resident Evil game that's held in such high regard by the fans and critics?
Probably the most important feature or concept of the game that earned us that incredible reception was the concept of returning to the series' roots. We really wanted to bring back the fear and the horror, and with the game being on a handheld, the fact that we were able to express that even on a small console was something that was well-received and a big achievement, I think.
Are you at all worried that some of that might be lost in translating the game to home consoles?
Talking about specific features, moving from a 3DS to four platforms – Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii U – we're no longer doing 3D support, which is kind of a shame, because something that was great about the 3DS version, was it's use of the 3D feature. But on the flip-side, bringing the graphics up to HD quality and putting them up there on an HD TV will be a fantastic experience for fans of the game on 3DS and those who haven't. Just being able to see those amazingly atmospheric environments in huge detail will be a major plus.
Revelations was widely well-received, but the reception for Resident Evil 6 was mixed at best. What do you think it could have done differently?
I think one main difference between the two games is Revelations' has this focus on this one aspect of Resident Evil, which is survival horror. Resident Evil 6's aim was to be appealing to a wide variety of people. It's really something that had a 'dramatic horror' or 'horror as entertainment' concept at its core that was appealing to a wider audience, and that's something that majorly factored into the difference in reception.
Do you think that there's still confidence in survival horror as a genre? Do you think it has a bright future ahead of it?
I think historically, survival horror isn't a huge genre. It's not the biggest market out there compared to other genres, but I still think in future if game developers like ourselves can challenge ourselves to do something great with the genre, and as long as there's player desire to play those kind of games, I don't see it going away or disappearing anytime soon. We need to think “what is Resident Evil, what kind of thing do players want and what kind of thing can we create?” And it's always going to be a survival horror game at its heart.
A lot of people often wonder what happened to the Resident Evil: Outbreak series. Do you ever see yourself revisiting that branch of Resident Evil and its online concepts?
I really love Resident Evil: Outbreak, and it's always great to hear that people liked it and are still interested in it. But at the same time, I think there are not really any plans at present to revisit that franchise and as a whole Capcom moving forward, we want to try and strengthen the value of our IP by adding new ones.
These days Resident Evil is seen as more of a third-person action game. Do you think there'd ever be a time where you'd consider rebooting and going back to the original style of Resident Evil game? The same kind of game as Resident Evil 1, 2 and 3?
I think it's very difficult to literally go back to our roots on that and take gameplay mechanics and styles that we did fifteen years ago and redo them now. Revelations' goal was to go back to the series' roots in terms of the content and horror, while at the same time trying to modernise the gameplay, because we think that's what gamers want. It'll be interesting to see the reaction to Resident Evil: Revelations on console and that feedback and reaction will definitely inform decisions like that in the future. For myself, I see it as something that would be very difficult to pull off.
Part of Resident Evil: Revelations appeal as a survival horror is the claustrophobia of the ship and that setting. Are there any other interesting locations like this that you have in mind for future Resident Evil games that might convey a similar level of horror?
I don't have any huge ideas for settings that I think would be good, but one idea that I've thought about in the past is setting it in ruins, like a ruined city or something like that. I think that would be interesting. But other than that, there's nothing I have in mind at the moment.
Resident Evil arguably proliferated and re-popularised zombies in mainstream media, especially video games, so is there a pressure and sense of responsibility to deliver something special with each Resident Evil, as the grandaddy of the genre?
Yeah, I definitely feel that pressure being the grandaddy of zombie games. At the time it was a unique feature, and now zombies are on television and everywhere else, so to stand out from the pack, you have to be a level above. At the same time I don't think a Resident Evil game necessarily needs to have zombies in it to be successful, or to work as a game. So obviously in Revelations, the main enemies aren't actually zombies, they're the Ooze. They're these kind of creatures that have been designed to fit in with the maritime, ocean-based setting more, so when we have zombies in the game, we want to be the ultimate in zombies. We don't think we necessarily have to rely on zombies as the reason for the games to exist.
Resident Evil has also dabbled with other genres in the past, like the Resident Evil: Survivor and Dead Aim lightgun games for instance. Are there any other genres you'd consider experimenting with in the future that you think might be a good fit for Resident Evil?
Like you said, we've already done a lot of genre hopping in the series. It's not like it's always been one thing, so if anything I'd say it's time we started narrowing down the genre we want to be in and focus on that. Ultimately, it could come down to business reasons in the future, if we were to decide to bring Resident Evil to other genres. But experimentation for it's own sake is something we've already done.
I think the most important thing for us is to continue to design titles that will satisfy console gamers, so that would be our main objective rather than finding a genre we want to do, simply to please ourselves. We'll always have that end goal of consumer satisfaction in mind, whenever we make a decision like that.
What do you think is the secret to keeping a long-running storied franchise like Resident Evil fresh and relevant in such a competitive market?
One thing we've done that has certainly helped keep things fresh, is not having the same team for each Resident Evil game. The people who worked on Resident Evil: Revelations are not the same as the people who worked on Resident Evil 6, and the team that worked on Resident Evil 6 are not the ones who made Resident Evil 5. So we don't have that sense of stagnation among the actual development staff, and that helps to inject new ideas and fresh blood into each title we make in the series.
What's your favourite survival horror game and why?
I played partway through Dead Island and thought that was a good game, and I also thought Dead Space was an excellent example of the genre. It's not survival horror, but somehow my mind jumps to Heavy Rain. It's dripping with atmosphere and while it's not the exact genre we're talking about, I feel it's got a lot of the same aspects, and it's a game I thought was an incredibly well-made production.
I've good expectations for the Dead Island and Dead Space sequels, but I'm really looking forward to Quantic Dream's Beyond. As much as I love seeing other companies titles improve and develop into sequels, I'm also looking forward to seeing what happens within Capcom, and having a positive outlook for the Resident Evil series in the future and seeing it go from strength to strength. We hope that players will be with us on that journey.
Finally, what would you say to a player who's already played Resident Evil: Revelations on the 3DS, and is perhaps considering purchasing it again on home consoles?
I think I would probably say to such a player that if you've already had the experience of holding the console in your hands and playing the 3DS version, having that feeling of being immersed in the environment, it's a different but just as amazing experience to be immersed in the game on a big, home TV. Just because it's no longer in your hands, it doesn't mean that you can't still feel fully immersed.
Not only that, but the network features mean it's a lot easier to jump into a Raid Mode game on an always-connected home console, rather than a handheld where you might not be readily able to jump into a game like that. We've also made system improvements and stuff, so there's no longer such a strict limitation on the number save slots and so on. As an overall experience it's different, but it's just as good, if not better. Even if you've already seen the game through once on 3DS, you'll still have great time playing the console version of Resident Evil: Revelations.
Resident Evil: Revelations is out on May 21st in North America, May 23rd in Japan and May 24th in Europe.