Resident Evil 4 marked a shift in style for Shinji Mikami’s survival horror series. While the scares were still there, the over-the-shoulder view and more action-orientated gameplay did not sit well with fans of old. What prompted this change in design? According to Mikami, the GameCube remake of the original had a lot to do with it.
Speaking to IGN’s Jose Otero, Mikami admits that the remake was “one of [his] favourites”, unfortunately, it didn’t smash it out of the park commercially, despite being loved by critics:
“Maybe there weren’t many people ready to accept that. Because of the reaction to the Resident Evil remake, I decided to work more action into Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 4 would have been a more scary, horror-focused game if the remake had sold well.”
As reluctant as Mikami may have been with this adjustment, history shows that Resident Evil 4 ended up one of the best-selling instalments so ultimately, the refreshed design may have saved the series from the rubbish heap.
In the interview, the designer also makes some observations about EA’s Dead Space and the tweaks it underwent over the course of three games:
“With Resident Evil 4, I intended to make more of an action game — 5 and 6 were outside of my responsibility, of course — but with Resident Evil 2 and 3, that wasn’t necessarily the intention I started with. They just naturally became more like action games. I suspect that Dead Space followed the same path. It naturally became more about action. When developers think about their players… I don’t think it’s the case that they were thinking, ‘Okay, if we want to go from two million units to four million units, we need to put in more action.’ It’s a more intuitive process than that.”