“The combat [was] uninteresting,” Kobayashi recalls. “Combat [felt] frustrating and incredibly tiring to play.”
Indeed, some on the team suggest that early build of the game just wasn’t as scary as they hoped it would be.
“I think the core of horror is going forward when you really want to run away,” says director Morimasa Sato. “But how can we create the feeling that you need to push on?”
Their solution essentially revolved around reducing the number of enemies overall and carefully considering their placements so that “we make [the player] paranoid about if and how they’re going to be attacked. Then, when an enemy appears, it’s relentless.” The team felt that by making encounters slightly less common but more substantial, they had better tapped into the survival elements of the franchise.
It’s certainly interesting to hear the team talk about the thought process behind this decision now that we’ve actually gotten to play the game. Would a version of Resident Evil Village with more enemies who are more aggressive have worked? Perhaps, but based on the developer interviews, it sounds like part of the problem was that other aspects of the game weren’t necessarily adjusted to accommodate for that change. For instance, Kobayashi talks about how players were given relatively little ammo to use to defeat these enemies, which sounds like the kind of design decision you’d make in a game where you’re supposed to carefully consider combat and not one where combat is quite so constant.
While being swarmed by mobs of aggressive opponents while low on ammo should be inherently scary, the Village QA team seems to have argued that the whole thing was more boring than engaging and that enemy encounters ending up being more annoying than scary.
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