Throughout the pandemic I've been playing a ton of games and one series I never gave a fair shake before this was Resident Evil. Before this year I was never much of a horror guy but after diving into the genre I decided to give the games an honest shot. RE4 is one of my favorite games from back in the day, but the stiff controls of the first three always put me off of them. However, I tried RE7 on Game Pass on a whim one day and loved it. The puzzle-y design of the Baker estate was a pleasure to gradually work my way through and the story was equally spooky and campy.
With the widespread availability of the RE1 remake on modern platforms and the 2 and 3 remakes that came out, I figured I would run through the series chronologically before 8 comes out, which I'm eagerly awaiting. As a long time lurker of this sub I figured I'd put write down my thoughts after going through the ones I've played so far.
Resident Evil Remake HD
This might be one of the best games I never play again, at least not for a long time.
I'm a huge fan of nonlinear level design, and the mansion is absolutely stunning in this regard. Finding tools which unlock different parts of the mansion or provide context for old areas is my jam. The slow-opening doors with their unique designs add a real sense of place to this sprawling, at times confusing layout and always keep me wondering what awaits me behind them.
This game, at least for me, was also tense and brutal. I've experienced survival horror through the Silent Hill series before, but for me those games never bottlenecked my resources quite as much as this game did. I was constantly aware of my dwindling resources, not only because there's a limited amount, but also because of dead zombies coming back as crimson heads.
The combat scenarios in this game play out as a big puzzle of resource management. You can choose to expend more ammo to save your life total in the short term but then be weaker in the long term when you have low ammo against the crimson heads. Or, you can choose to save your ammo for more pertinent threats by evading the enemies. However, choosing this strategy is much riskier as you're likely to take some hits trying to run around zombies due to the tank controls.
This combat paradigm is ultimately what makes this game so spooky. In no other game does seeing a random enemy make me say "oh fuck" under my breath upon entering a room unprepared. Capcom really should've just called this "Sweaty Palms HD". Every design choice from the limited inventory to the finite number of saves contributes to the weight the game puts on your shoulders.
This kind of hits upon why I said I probably won't replay this game for a long time. My first playthroughs as Jill and Chris were great but after seeing what the mansion has to offer the challenge seems like it wouldn't be as rewarding while still retaining what can make it frustrating and tense. This applies doubly for Chris's campaign where his inventory space was super limited. In spite of all that though, the game was amazing and I loved every bit of it.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
This game delivers on that nonlinear design I loved from the RE1 remake while adding tons of quality of life improvements from the past 15 or so years. Leon and Claire control like a dream without feeling as clunky as the previous title. I loved the optional little item pickups from the combination locks that you find throughout the police station, as they encourage you to take risks by backtracking.
This holds especially true when Mr. X is introduced, and god damn is he my favorite aspect of the whole series that I've played so far. The way he searches for and follows you organically through the mansion is horrifying while also feeling realistic. I'll always remember ducking into a room on the east wing of the first floor hoping to dodge him and hearing him slowly walk around my room and down the next hall. This is the stuff that for my money gives horror games the edge over other media in the genre. It just feels so much more threatening. There's nothing more horrifying in games (imo) than having consequences for actions happen to you in gameplay rather than in cutscenes or setpieces, something that is sorely missing from the next game.
Resident Evil 3 Remake
Coming off of RE2, Nemesis sucks. It's essentially the same gimmick as Mr. X, but due to 3 being a much more linear game, he doesn't hold as much of a presence. Because Nemesis has been thrown almost entirely into setpieces and cutscenes when he chases you, the feeling of dread that the game wants you to feel evaporates, because it's something that's supposed to happen.
Honestly, linearity isn't always a bad thing. I feel like a lot of gamers will automatically assume linearity = bad for more modern games, but it's just a matter of how it's handled. RE4 is super linear and it's one of my favorite games ever. It's just that RE3 retains a lot of the nonlinear gameplay elements of the previous titles like searching for keys and optional items in risky areas while not giving you a reason to come back, which leads to a lot of throw-away areas for traversal. It makes every action you take feel less meaningful overall.
In addition to being more linear, recycling the police station from RE2 struck me as being kind of lazy. Walking the neutered halls of RCPD again really just made me want to fire up RE2 again.
RE3 Remake wasn't a bad game, it was just disappointing compared to RE2. I know that's not a revelation, seeing as that seems to be the consensus among players, but it struck me extra hard after playing them back to back. The increased focus on action and linearity didn't do much for me, and ultimately I barely remember any of the Nemesis encounters.
Resident Evil 4
There's not much I can say about this game that hasn't been said (cliche, I know). But even on my umpteenth playthrough, I find this game so supremely easy to pick up and so unfathomably difficult to put down. The devs did such a great job of balancing setpieces with the somewhat repetitive combat loop and it really works. The gameplay being slow and meticulous adds an element of strategy to the game while still being fast enough to keep you on your toes.
For most enemies, especially the ones early in the game, the strategy of headshot -> roundhouse -> knife them on the ground is basic enough but also satisfying for crowd control. I remember learning that pattern when I first played the game as one of my "level up" moments in gaming where I found an optimal strategy for dispatching groups of enemies, and I still use that problem solving approach when learning to play new games today.
Hiding under the simplistic facade of the shooter gameplay is one of the richest gameplay experiences I've ever had. I'm excited and anxious to see where they take the gameplay with the inevitable remake, as I feel tweaking with this balance too much could ruin the core experience.
RE5 and beyond
I've been trying some of the RE5 co-op with my in-law when they come to town, and it's been fun so far but it hasn't left enough of an impression for me to talk about it at length.
I'd love to go back and play some of the more survival oriented games in the series like Zero and Code Veronica to see how they stack up. I enjoy the puzzle-y aspects of the games I've played, approaching the gameplay scenarios like an equation to be solved. I can't wait for Village and I'd love to hear some follow up thoughts to what I've said. Thanks for reading.
- Resident Evil 1-6 … So far.
- I finished 10 Resident Evil games over the past month and wanted to get a word in about such an awesome series before July ends.
- Resident Evil 7 is a true Resident Evil game
More about Gaming NewsPost: "Some thoughts on the Resident Evil “series” so far" specifically for the game Gaming News. Other useful information about this game:
- Spider-Man is the true definition in my head of AAA
- Because of their gameplay-first philosophy, I’m glad much of Nintendo’s major franchises are downplaying linearity outside of remakes and rereleases as of late (and at one point even then) (x-post r/truegaming)
- I know why now Witcher 3 is loved and hated so much.
- Sea of Thieves: A pirate playground for the working gamer.
- The Evil Within (2014) is a truly unique, albeit flawed, horror game, and a better Resident Evil game than RE2make was. An extended review.
Top 7 NEW Games of February 2021
Looking for something new to play on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch in February 2021? Here are the notable video game releases.
Top 20 NEW Open World Games of 2021
2021 will bring us tons of open world games for PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Switch, and beyond. Here's what we're looking forward to.