Dino Crisis Vs the World: Plot

We are beginning to wrap up our current project and are looking for something to move on to next. We’ve had a Survival Horror on the back burner for some time and it is something we could very well move on to. With that in mind I decided to look into what makes a survival horror work / not work.

I’ve tried to write these posts about 4 times now and I literally can’t do it in a cohesive manor, not without being massively biased towards Dino Crisis. So, being the resourceful chap I am, I’ll use that as a vehicle to get me through these posts.

Heres a list of “horror” games that I remember playing:

D, D2, Enermy Zero, Parasite Eve II, Resident Evil 1 – 5 + code veronica, Dino Crisis 1-2, Deep Fear, Silent Hill 1, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Fear Effect 1 – 2, Alone in the Dark 1,2 + 4, Monster Manor, Dead Space, Eternal Darkness…. and there is no Dino Crisis 3, that was everybody’s crap imagination!

This week kids, I’m going to talk about the good and the awful plots of horror games.

I’ll begin by saying Dino Crisis has a terrible central plot. The government invents a new energy that happens to open a portal back in time to some magical place where every famous type of dinosaur is some how standing together and then they all get dragged through to an island where the energy research is being conducted, madness! If you’re going to make jurassic park the game, you might as well steal the more realistic plot (it does sort itself out, mind, as I’ll explain).

The Survival Horror requires a plot, it’s one of the few genres that needs a story to drive the game along. The first Resident Evil was pretty damned good for reasons I’ll go into later, but the plot wasn’t one of them. Outside of the central plot of, “team investigate zombie infested haunted house”, the story was pretty thin, no real unforseen twists and characters I couldn’t care less about. However, it was the first go and this could be rectified in the sequels. The problem (with the Resident Evil series especially) is that it has never been fixed. Even the rather brilliant Resident Evil 4 suffered from this. I’ve played through that game twice and I still couldn’t tell you anything other than the president’s daughter is kidnapped by a load of virus infected inbreds.

I truly believe that our potential Survival horror trounces every horror game plot I’ve seen (even the good ones!). Yes it’s silly, but it exists on the same level as the Resident Evils and Dino Crisis of the world and they are popular enough! I’ve noticed all of these games keep a detachment from real life, I’m not sure if thats intentional or if it just makes for better enemies? Surely a plot that revolved around something that might actually happen would be somewhat scarier, but I’ll talk about scary another time. That being said I find the best plots of these games take place in completely unrealistic universes.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was great, the plot, like the first, centres around a chap looking for his daughter in a deranged and weird world that was like our own, but has been skewed so it’s obviously not the real world. I know that makes no sense, but the developers had made a point to detach their world from ours and so anything they threw at the player was fine because it wasn’t supposed to be real. It’s like how dragons are acceptable in fantasy films I suppose, it’s just the universe it’s set in.

I think Dino Crisis 2 recognized this and played up to the time travel thing that it had so quickly thrown away after getting dinosaurs into the first game. Using that as a central plot device the creators were able to build an enjoyable plot complete with the holy grail of plots everywhere: Twists! That should be a Psync mission statement, “We will never build a plot driven game without a twist”.

The late WARP creators of D, D2 and Enemy Zero, must have had a very similar mission. Regardless of every game getting panned by critics, I see them as genius. I mean yes the game-play in almost all was rubbish, but the stories always kept you guessing. Psync should learn by their mistakes though and again I’ll discuss the game play thing next time.

A plot should be very important to a horror game, however it’s not everything and that shouldn’t be forgotten!

I mentioned that I thought Dino crisis 1 sorted itself out in the plot department even though it was ludicrous. The awesomeness of the plot (aside from the fact there are dinosaurs) is the interaction of the 3 characters. They are all quite stereotyped, but they play off each other brilliantly. You are made to side with one of the 2 non playable characters throughout the game, but I found it generally difficult to work out who to go with, I didn’t want to disappoint the other character, which is pretty impressive from such an old game. It’s testament to the decent script work and acting which I will gush over next time!

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