Growing up, there was always one genre of game that I really, REALLY did neglect – Horror.
For many, the appeal of hiding under the sheets, cowering behind pillows and being afraid to close the door at night has been something kind of ingrained in them since they were young… Experiencing the unforgettable and horrific with your friends at sleepovers and having your brother/s and/or sister/s crowded around you shivering in fear…
Yeah. No. That’s not for me. Sod that.
… But saying this, lately I’ve been more and more curious of franchises I’ve never really delved into – One of which being… Resident Evil. Having obtained the HD Remaster from PlayStation Plus at some point, I was persuaded (Pressured..!) into playing it by some of my coworkers on a livestream for the world to see my initial reaction…
So… What did I think of this ever-legendary horror title? Let’s find out!!
Before starting Resident Evil, I had a complex mix of emotions swirling in me – Fear, anticipation, excitement and curiosity; before this point, my knowledge of Resident Evil was, and I kid you not, entirely comprised of the phrase “Jill Sandwich” and Chris Redfield punching a boulder at the end of Resident Evil 5 (Not that I’ve played Resident Evil 5… I’ve actually NEVER played ANY Resident Evil game)!
As the intro sequence loaded, and that bloody, sweaty eye glared at me, I nearly refused to press the start button… But as I advanced, I found not just one of the most honest and brutal horror experiences I’ve felt in a long, LONG time, but also a game that I could see was methodical, calculated and extremely planned out; every little detail popped out to me as I entered the manor the game begins in – Every piece of broken furniture, the sound of thunder in the distance, the moans and groans of the manor’s undead inhabitants… Almost everything in this game is designed to make you feel terror, and holy shit on a stick does Resident Evil make the most of it’s theming.
I’d almost argue that, in a thematic sense, this game is one of the rare examples where I was wholly absorbed into a game’s world, and was scared as a result of the environment, camera angles, prop positioning and blind corners that I was encountering – Every room felt deadly. Every corridor felt like it hid another foe. Every outdoor section lead me to fear the unknown… I was scared to even progress this damn game!!
The enemy design as well is a massive plus point for Resident Evil – Everything from the varied zombie types to those god-damned dogs, to the random ravens perched in a number of rooms to even horrifying spiders and more monstrous amalgamations all are intrinsically designed to invoke fear in you, and to really give you a fright when they jump up in-front of the camera.
Character-wise, I feel that Resident Evil probably falls a little bit short – Intentionally cheesy in nature, nearly every piece of dialogue had me admittedly break out of the constant immersion I felt when playing with no dialogue – Asides from some cringe-worthy and meme-status dialogue, it almost made me want to play the game with no voice acting! There’s only so many times you can fail to save after a hard portion and hear the mockingly cheesy dialogue echo in your mind…
In terms of gameplay, Resident Evil 1, unsurprisingly, controls like you’re trying to drive a human tank made of glass – The camera fights against you with weird angles, aiming is a bit of a pain in the arse (Although it DOES auto-aim somewhat), and god forbid if you get stuck in a fight using only melee combat… This becomes especially noticeable against far faster foes, such as the bloody undead dogs which still terrify the pants off of me; they’re just far too agile for you to properly react to, and more often than not get a free hit in as a result… Not just this, but upon looking at the trophies for the HD Remaster, I discovered that there’s not only a far harder range of modes, but there’s also an invisible enemies mode. Yeah. No. Let’s not, eh? Fuck that.
So far, all things considered, I’m surprisingly enjoying my time in the horrid mansion of Resident Evil 1 HD; I never really thought I’d say this, but it’s easy to see why so many people have (Or had) such a fondness for this series – It’s almost sad to see that Resident Evil strayed so far away from these realistic and somewhat classical horror roots to focus more and more on action and linearity – I wonder what Resident Evil would be like today if it stayed more traditional with it’s roots…
When returning to Resident Evil 1, some obvious flaws are apparent given the title’s age, such as the game’s tank-like controls, often awkward camera and downright cheesy dialogue… But in a bizarre way that adds to the charm of the title – The thematic tension you feel when exploring the manor… The fear you feel around every corner… The tension of solving a puzzle in the nick of time or making that narrow escape… Well, there’s nothing quite like it nowadays.
I give Resident Evil 1: HD Remaster an 8 / 10.