In my opinion – and in the opinion of our reviewer Joe – The Evil Within 2 is a damn fine horror game. But overall, survival horror isn't particularly huge on the blockbuster games scene anymore. Sure, it's better than it was five years ago, with games like Alien: Isolation, Resident Evil 7 and the original Evil Within releasing to positive reviews, but they're not as common as they were in the early 2000s.
Why's that? Game Watcher asked The Evil Within 2 game director John Johanas recently, and his answer was quite illuminating. The general message is that survival horror games, and especially big budgets ones, are too big a risk for most publishers to take on.
"It’s certainly tricky to make a big horror," Johanas said. "You realize when you make a AAA horror game that’s big on graphics, you don’t see it come together until the final moments. It’s tricky to calculate things in an effective way, and more so with horror because it’s so built on creating an experience that doesn’t have gaps. The risk is higher. We have the experience so we can mitigate those risks a little, but it’s a daunting task for anyone not familiar with the genre to create a AAA horror game."
Johanas credits indie studios for carrying the torch, and there's no doubting that Outlast, Observer, Amnesia and many more are exceptional(ly horrifying). But those are unlikely to set the mass market on fire, mostly due to their lack of action elements.
You can read the full interview over here.