Why Spiritual Sequels Are The Real Sequels

Why Spiritual Sequels Are The Real Sequels

Here’s a question: Why does Shinji Mikami have to go elsewhere to make a horror game that resembles Resident Evil more than Resident Evil does?

Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, is no longer at his old studio, with the same relationship with Capcom — he’s pursuing the type of game he wants to make. He still has his reputation, of course, and everyone knows what he’s capable of. But leaving something you’ve built from the ground up is never pleasant.

It would be more understandable if he wanted to pursue a crazy, untested idea. But he pretty much just wants to do the same thing: Make a horror game more about a chilling atmosphere than bombastic action. Shouldn’t that be something he can do right at home? Isn’t that what Resident Evil is for?

Over the course of the series, Resident Evil lhas become less itself and more Gears of War. It’s taken significant strides away from its roots, while its creator explored other projects like Vanquish, or Shadows of the Damned.

Now he’s making a game for Bethesda, called The Evil Within. It looks frickin’ amazing. It looks closer to what a Resident Evil game should look like than what Resident Evil has been for years. Why did he have to move?

We’ve seen similar stories with other franchises. IP is sacrificed at the altar of industry trends. It’s an argument for the role of auteur, the name on the front of the box. You wouldn’t see Sid Meier letting Civilization go off the rails.

Following trends is the safe thing to do. It’s no wonder in this costly triple-A environment that the nameless, faceless powers that be want to minimise risk and emulate a proven concept. How quickly we give up the role of leader for that of follower.

The trouble is, during that transition, the franchise keeps its name. In a bid to have its cake and eat it too, the IP owner will attempt to leverage its playerbase while shifting gears to capitalise on a new trend. It’s why Resident Evil is now an action game with grotesque horror elements. It’s why Supreme Commander 2 was so watered down. It’s why Command & Conquer 4 was a MOBA hybrid.

And lately, it’s why former staff are leaving to create spiritual successors to the beloved games of the past. While their sequels aren’t official, the misguided canon of franchise decision-making lacks the “spirit” these developers are capable of. Those former Command & Conquer developers are now making Grey Goo, an old-school RTS that people will want to stick with.

In an effort to respond to the market, executives might be forgetting the people under them who made the market. They’d do well to remember the ones who set the trends, instead of just riding them, as they salivate over their newly announced DOTA clones.

I won’t notice. I’ve reinstalled Counter-Strike, a game that has barely evolved in 10 years.


  • A sequel should walk the delicate balance of keeping certain familiar components while still striving to provide new experiences.
    Most sequels unfortunately have this balance wrong and tend to keep too many things familiar or in the case of the Resident Evil series, tried to make it into an action game which the series didnt start out as.

    I think a perfect example of a sequel (or prequel depending on how you look at it) would be ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. Totally different experiences yet somehow connected. IMHO.

  • That’s why Bioshock was great (although I didn’t find it as amazing) and why Infinite should have been renamed and had no connections to Bioshock at all.

    Same thing with Demon and Dark Souls. Even if the real reason was because of licensing issues (Dark Souls sounds better anyways).

    • But Infinite is connected to Bioshock. It was told in the ending

      Had to use the spoiler tag as I don’t want to spoil those that have not played it.

      EDIT: Screw you spoiler tag, auto removed.

        • Indeed it does. I guess that would be how they wanted to end BioShock completely. at least they put an effort to end the title as I believe it was the decision along with the closure of irrational games.

  • Worth giving Megaman/Might No 9 a mention here, as its a very simillar situation, and Capcom is the developer again.

    Come on Capcom, you guys used to be cool. What gives??

  • Ugh.
    Love Resident Evil and really looking forward to the Evil Within.
    That being said it really needs to stop claiming to be a spiritual successor to Resident Evil and instead claim to be a spiritual successor to the horror survival genre of that era.
    Let the game rest on it’s own merits.

    It’s really unfair to compare Resident Evil to games that lost their way like the C&C MOBA.
    That game was a travesty of the C&C title where as Resident Evil, love or hate it, progressed naturally through the storyline they began with.
    It will also never live up to our nostalgia goggles or scare us like it once did. The older you get the more your world shrinks.

    So bring on Evil Within and let it be it’s own title. If I wanted old school Resident Evil I would play old school resident evil.

  • I think I really dislike C&C 3 because they added in so many powerups you stopped having strategy and it just became nuke their base. I’m not talking about Super Weapons which could be destroyed, shut down or generally stopped I’m talking about the abilities that you just used when the cooldown was up.

  • Calling C&C4 as a “MOBA” hybrid is a travesty to all MOBA’s out there…

    If anything it was a nightmarish frankensteins creature attempt at mixing elements from CoH/DoW (capturing strategic points/low pop cap/skirmish scale battles), Sup Com (streamlined unit creation), Starcraft (RPS style unit tiering) and C&C Red Alert (unit abilities)… unfortunately instead of thinking through which could and couldn’t work they just shoved everything in a blender and mixed in a terrible “KANE IS BACK!” storyline that makes it even more worse because of the travesty of a “plot” basically destroyed anything that made the C&C games great (ONOZ! MY “WIFE” WHICH I HAVE ONLY SEEN/HEARD ABOUT ON THE LAST MISSION WHICH LASTED A MERE 15MINS IS DEAD! WOE BETIDE ME AND RAGE!….. yeah right =/)

    Gebus I bought the damn game on a steam sale…. and I still wish I could ge my measly 3-4 bucks back =(

  • think of perfect dark on N64 that was the spiritual successor to goldeneye , perfect example , and omg was it as good as goldeneye and more it just improved on every aspect of goldeneye without taking away anything that made goldeneye great in the first place , i racked up over 1,000,000 kills in the multiplayer in perfect dark i shit you not thats how great that game was , i wonder how many other people also achieved this

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