Resident Evil HD Remaster – Review

So, I never actually beat RE1 on the Playstation. Or REmake on the Gamecube, actually. Barely touched them, in fact; I came into the series starting with RE2. Since playing through and beating this awesome title, though, I’ve gone back and taken a look at more of what distinguishes RE1’s various versions, to get some context for what I’d just experienced.

I guess I can summarize everything I learned by saying that REmaster is really great????

RE is a tense, nearly-perfectly paced, tight and consistent experience. It’s survival horror at its purest and most distilled. You’re required to manage several very limited resources, juggling your ability to dodge enemies with the need to heal or kill them, managing corpses left behind by burning them so as to avoid crimson heads (or counting on your own abilities and stocks of ammunition with the intent to fight them). You’re plotting little miniature runs or routes through each section, zipping from item box to item box, from item to item, trying to progress while managing very limited inventory space. And every time you think you’ve got things figured out, just when you think you can start to relax, the game changes things up on you.

Enemies move to chase you from room to room, bursting through doors or windows, or being replaced by other enemy types, as the game progresses. They’re smart, they’re aggressive, and they’re durable but mostly pretty slow and can be fooled by dancing just at the edge of their attack range… provided you’re badass enough to know exactly where it is, of course. Defensive items can give you a free escape from some enemies, but your stocks of those are (just like all your resources in this game) extremely limited.

Camera angles, the shot-by-shot combat, and the tank controls (and you should absolutely be using the tank controls, the new control scheme trivializes certain enemies while making other routes very unreliable) conspire to create an intense, cinematic experience (without relying too much on scripted events and cutscenes to get there) where your options for combat or escape, your information about your environment, can be tightly controlled by the developers along with your stocks of ammunition, bullet by bullet, making absolutely everything count. We’re talking about a game with an actual DESIGN ETHIC to it, holy shit. One where the mechanics work WITH the intent to enhance the atmosphere. This kind of thing is absolutely unheard of in modern gaming, and deserves your wallet-based support.

Basically this game owns a lot. You need to play it, both because it’s rad and because it’s educational re: game design.

Bonus points for having both a guy and a girl character with some interesting differences in playstyle and game route between them, plus unlockable outfits. Hell yes I love outfits. I mean, Jill is a little bit strange as a girl protagonist. I’m playing her as a badass but then every time she sees a zombie she falls over backwards and becomes a helpless puppy? So, that’s a little embarrassing. But yeah. Still a great game.

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