Unlike Capcom that managed to bounce back thanks to Monster Hunter: World and Resident Evil 7, Konami has fallen deeper into the gutter with Metal Gear Survive. The time and money I spent on this game wasn't worth a single dime. It isn't simply because I'm raging over Hideo Kojima's departure from the series he built. Metal Gear Survive just isn't fun or exciting at all, despite having a few interesting stuff in it.
Instead of complaining more about Metal Gear Survive, let's talk about some of Konami's greatest IPs that don't have the words "Metal Gear". Games like Silent Hill and Castlevania.
Refining the Genre
Games are evolving. And for whatever reason, game developers, especially the titans of the '80s era, are struggling to catch up. Is this a Nokia and BlackBerry mentality, where change to improve the genre comes only as a second thought? Where innovation comes in every now and then?
The hottest buzz word in games these days is "Open World." In the past decade, we have seen a surge of terrific open world games, from titles starring Batman to white cowl ninjas. Even the remake of Tomb Raider is technically open world in a Metroid fashion, where the more equipment you acquire, the greater your freedom to explore. Games like Grand Theft Auto, The Elder Scrolls, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Witcher 3 pushed the boundaries of an open world platform and shaped it into their own.
Even the world of Dark Souls gives an impression of an open world environment. Anor Londo alone is more like Castlevania than any of the previous titles Konami has released. It's unfortunate that the Castlevania franchise's Lament of Innocence and Forge of Darkness were hollow cash grabs, devoid of any soul and craftsmanship from the games they tried to imitate - Devil May Cry 3 and God of War. Konami was on to something with Lords of Shadow and its sequel but they pretty much ended in an ugly mess.
Clearly, what we see here is an utter lack of dedication on Konami's part to take great risks. Perhaps the team presented amazing ideas but were shot down by the higher ups.
In any case: would it be too much to ask for an open world Castlevania game? One where you roam towns, forests, crypts, and the city of Wallachia? And in the final quarter of the game, you get to explore Dracula's castle? The potential for such game is rich. Give us interesting quests and storylines from poor villagers and corrupt priests. Show us a world where Dracula's influence is affecting the people, and how fear turns humans against each other.
Look, there's a four-episode Netflix Castlevania show based on Castlevania III and it is freaking amazing. There's a second season on its way. And depending on how it will fare, there just might be a third season. For all that's worth, Konami could take full advantage of that publicity.
Spooky is In
Konami's infamous "Playable Teaser" aka P.T. was probably the greatest game the company never made. The concept was powerful and teeming with potential. When Konami failed to deliver, others stepped up, grabbed the concept and turned it into their own. Resident Evil 7, Layers of Fear, and Allison Road are few of the many examples.
With games like Until Dawn receiving critical acclaim and titles such as Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th enjoying temporary successes, horror games are in more than ever. Konami knew this. They understood this. They had the audience for it. Yet what did they give us? Metal Gear Survive, a game known for its stealth tactical operations, political viewpoints...and Lovecraftian horrors.
Doesn't this sound more suited for Silent Hill? Just imagine a Silent Hill game where you and few fellow players find themselves trapped in a hellish world and must work together to escape. There would have been betrayals among the players, such as sacrificial rituals where four players need to kill one among them or trap others behind doors filled with monsters. Konami has the budget and the team to achieve this. But instead, they gave us Metal Gear Survive, a game which reused old assets.
Konami could do what Capcom did: go back to the basics and re-evaluate how they messed up. Until then, we're stuck with more Pro Evolution Soccer games and Metal Gear Survive.