The lights are on
Before survival horror games existed, haunted houses kept our hearts
pounding at a mile a minute. Now, modern haunted houses are taking cues
from video games. Last year Universal Studio’s based one of its
Halloween Horror Night houses on the Silent Hill franchise. This year
the studio is blowing opening the gates of Raccoon City.
We spoke with Capcom’s Resident Evil 6 producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi
and Universal’s creative director Mike Aiello about the new Resident
Evil house and what fans who tour the parks can expect to find inside.
Where did the idea to do a house based on Resident Evil come from? Hirabayashi:
Since 2012, Capcom has been working with Universal Studios Japan to
bring the world of Resident Evil to life every year as a special
amusement attraction, and it has been very well received by guests. The
Resident Evil franchise is illustrated as a parallel world that has been
fictionalized, yet is based on the real one we live in. Along these
lines, the idea of bringing zombies and B.O.W.’s (Bio Organic Weapons)
from Resident Evil to the real world plays well with the experiences in
Universal’s horror mazes. We’re excited that these attractions will
offer our fans a fascinating experience where they step into the world
they’ve played in our video game series.
Aiello: Video games in
general already have great maze-like qualities about them, and we have
wanted to do a Resident Evil maze for quite a while. But it really
nailed it home for us when our sister park in Japan created a street
environment for their Halloween Horror Nights event. It looked great. We
loved the idea of really placing guests within the game even down to
placing items (lighter, typewriter save point, herb plants) from the
game randomly in our sets.
Were there any classic Resident Evil moments that you wanted to get into the house? Hirabayashi:
I think guests will actually be able to recognize numerous classic
Resident Evil moments at various places as this horror maze itself has
been constructed based on the motif of Raccoon City.
Creating the classic looking environments was key for us. The opening
level in Resident Evil 2 has been recreated. Akuras is there in scale
and serves as our main entrance. The Raccoon Police Department is as big
as life, and in the backdrop for a Nemesis attack you can see Jill
Valentine radio down to us from a hovering helicopter to "get out of the
city!" before it's blown to oblivion.
What are some of the house's coolest features? Aiello:
The types of tricks we are able to employ to really immerse you in the
game. All the characters in the maze are able to trigger lighting and
special effects as well as cue audio taken directly from Resident Evil 2
Hirabayashi: For me, it is about the many encounters with
very real zombies and B.O.W.’s (Bio Organic Weapons). I hope you’ll like
How does the pause screen work? How do you make that scary?Aiello:
The pause screen is literally what its intended to be, a short break
from the terror that surrounds it. It also served as a way for us to
create a visual moment we would never be able to do if it were moving.
Our guests are going to see a "Paused" scene where Leon has jumped from a
building, turned in mid air and is firing on a Tyrant that is chasing
What was the most challenging scare trick to pull off? Aiello:
We have a rather larger Alpha Hunter costume. Building a space for him was hard, given the dimensional requirements. It was also a
challenge creating the Cerberus dogs and giving them a presence without
having to build a costume that would make them feel too large. You will
see a full size dog and we've also created a couple articulated puppet
heads that will burst into the scene and scare the guests unexpectedly.
What do you think will scare people most?Aiello:
The whole thing!! You are walking in the footsteps of Leon and Jill!
You are in Raccoon City. It completely surrounds you! Where else can you
do that? It's been great fun and so cool to realize!
Oh, if I reveal any of the fear that fans will go through in their near
future, I’d ruin the experience so I should keep my mouth shut.
You can check out Universal’s Resident Evil-themed house
for yourself at Universal Studios Orlando and Universal Studios
Hollywood during select dates between September 20 and November 2.
Can’t make the trip? Check out our list of 10 horror games to note this year. Or read our reviews for Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs and Outlast.
Email the author Ben Reeves, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.