Resident Evil Creator Says Uncertainty Is Key for Horror

Uncertainty is a key ingredient for truly frightening horror games, according to Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, whose latest game–The Evil Within–launches in October. Mikami told The Guardian that he wants to create situations where players are genuinely uncertain if their character will live or die. This is the heart of horror, he said.

“I’m interested in vulnerable characters, in normal human beings,” Mikami said. “The horror experience is most scary when the player really isn’t sure whether their character is going to live or die–death and survival need to be on a constant see-saw. If there’s a situation where you’re not 100% sure that you can avoid or defeat the enemies, if you feel maybe there’s a chance you’ll make it–that’s where horror lies. Creating that situation is vital.”


In addition, Mikami said he’s not interested in making horror games where characters can overcome enemies simply by blasting bullets everywhere. “I don’t want to just stand there shooting dozens of enemies,” he said. “Die! Die! Die! I don’t have the energy for that.”

Mikami also told The Guardian that he’s learned through studying the psychology of horror that horror is instinctive, with different triggers for different people. With the Resident Evil series, many of the enemies were human-shaped “because people are generally more interested and scared by other people” as opposed to some foreign creature, Mikami said. The same is true for The Evil Within, he added.

The Evil Within launches October 14 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC (see the system requirements here). Developed by Mikami and his team at Tango Gameworks, the game will be published by Fallout and Elder Scrolls company Bethesda, which also owns Mikami’s studio.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

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