So, full disclosure, I’ve never played a Resident Evil game before, not unless the demo of Resident Evil 6 counts. Though depending on who you ask, RE6 isn’t a true Resident Evil game anyway. Despite being born in 1996 and owning a Sony PlayStation, playing demos of games like MediEvil, Metal Gear Solid, and Tomb Raider because my family didn’t buy full games very often at the time, Resident Evil never crossed my path. Even as I got to be 4 or 5 and could actually semi-understand what I was playing and asking for new games, it wasn’t on my radar. By that time I was too busy playing Halo: Combat Evolved on a friends shiny new Xbox. And before anyone asks, yes, at the age of 5 my parents were letting me play M-rated games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto III. But I had extremely limited access to the internet so I found out about new games from TV commercials and through friends, and Resident Evil just never came up from either of those sources. So until Resident Evil 6 I didn’t really know much about the series, but now that I know about it, it feels like I missed out on something from the era of my childhood. Resident Evil 2 Remake was my chance to figure out what it was that I missed, even if it isn’t quite the same.
(Side note: Any screenshots you see going forward are not mine, I was too busy running in terror and forgot to take screenshots as I went.)
I don’t play horror games particularly often. I own quite a few, but have never played most of them. I have the first three Fatal Frame games, I have all three Dead Space games, I have White Day, and Detention, I have Until Dawn (This one I have played.), and I have Siren: Blood Curse, but Resident Evil 2 Remake is the first normal horror game I’ve played. And man, it was a terrifying experience. The dark and moody atmosphere, certainly helped by the eerie quiet and rainstorm, made me remember all the horror stories I was told as a kid in dimly lit rooms. Everything in this remake is just so hand crafted and perfect. From the shambling and grotesque zombies to the unrelenting Tyrant, I was in a constant state of tension and terror with no sign of relief in sight. Even when I was in a safe room I could still hear the moans and growls coming from behind doors, and even when everything was silent I was afraid. Silence is the worst because anything could pop out at any moment. Never mistake silence for a reprieve.
Something I’m used too with a lot of games these days is that if I shoot something in the head, it dies. Maybe sometimes the first shot will just blow their helmet off, but the second then kills them. This is far from the truth in RE2 because you can put 6 bullets in a zombies head, have it fall to the ground, only to get back up and keep after you. You can put another 6 rounds into its head, and it will still potentially be alive and a pain in your ass. But that’s a real zombie, they don’t die because you just shot them in the head, they’re already dead and don’t feel a damn thing. For them to truly die, you need to make their head pop, and that’s a random chance. The first shot might do it, but so might the 20th shot. It’s typically more effective to kneecap the bastards and make a run for it. And just because you cleared a room, doesn’t mean it’ll stay empty. If there’s an open window or a window that zombie busted, they will continue to pour in unless you board it up. Not many at a time, but 0 turns into 3 or 4 over time and if its an area you have to frequently pass through, you’re gonna have a bad time. Oh, and also...
Pick your battles because it doesn’t matter how much ammo you’re carrying around or for what weapons because if you try to kill every zombie you see, your ammo stockpile will quickly whittle away until its gone and you swear you just had 60 rounds a moment ago. An upgraded Matilda can hold 24 rounds in a single clip, I used it all up on three zombies without missing a shot and they still weren’t dead. I learn my lesson fast that if it doesn’t die after three shots, just run and don’t look back. And that goes double if its a Licker. If you stop running for even a moment you’re screwed when it comes to those pricks. They’re too fast and agile. Duck into the nearest room, let your heart rate recover, and move very slowly.
Sometimes these mechanics can be frustrating, but that’s because I’ve gotten so used to games handing me everything on a silver platter. Healing items? About 450 cheese wheels in case of emergency. Ammo? I’ve got a whole armory on my person and can take down anything. Zombies? Weak as shit, one shot should do and if not just spray into the crowd and watch the bodies hit the floor like a bunch of heathens during the rapture.
Resident Evil 2 Remake, however, does not make me into a mortal god who loves cheese wheels. I am the mortal praying to god for salvation from this nightmare of unholy proportions because I am so screwed if I don’t get raptured. I had so many close calls in this game because I was either out of ammo, out of healing items, or close to out of one, the other, or both. Combining gunpowder became a science because I had to figure out which combination produced which kind of ammo. I produced MAG rounds once, couldn’t figure it out after that and subsequently never had a lot of MAG ammo for the nastiest enemies. Plenty of pistol rounds though, for what they’re worth when I go through a full clip in no time flat.
Resident Evil 2 Remake is a refreshingly terrifying experience. I enjoyed my, so far, single run through the game as Leon and I plan to go back through three more times to see the rest of what the game has to offer, Kingdom Hearts III permitting. I enjoyed the game so much in just the span of 7 and a half hours that I’m really hoping that Capcom remakes Resident Evil 3: Nemesis in the same style, maybe even go back and redo the first game again to match. This is the kind of horror experience that I want more of. I’ll take remakes if I can’t get brand new games.