Horror is a genre synonymous with entertainment. While today’s biggest hits are full of spooks and scares, there was a time when horror was taboo. Games couldn’t properly give you feelings of fear on the Atari 2600 or NES. The most dread you’ve felt on the SNES was probably the power going out at the final boss. As technology progressed, horror became more common. Resident Evil would set itself apart as gaming’s premier horror series. I’ve never dipped my toes into this vast ocean, but Resident Evil V.I.I.I.AGE coming next-gen has convinced me to give the series a shot!
The nefarious Umbrella Corporation has developed a higher life-form known as Tyrant, but the T-Virus has leaked outside of the mansion they’re stationed in. To throw authorities off, Umbrella has loured the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo team to the mansion and had their experiments slaughter them. After a failed search-and-rescue mission, it’s up to Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield to search the mansion and uncover the corporation’s darkest secrets. The narrative is told through journals and scientific logs you find throughout the mansion, but you’re rarely given proper direction. I would’ve liked to the characters react to more of what they read.
You can choose between Chris or Jill at the start. There are minor gameplay and story differences between the two. Resident Evil features the dreaded “tank controls.” It was one of the titles to pioneer them. You have very limited inventory space, but you can store items you aren’t using in crates. They all share one inventory, so don’t worry about keeping track of them all. All resources are limited. You have to rely on every bullet or healing herb you find, but when an enemy is killed they’ll never respawn. You’ll constantly have to make key decisions. Is the cost of ammo worth getting rid of an annoying foe? The game is at it’s lowest with puzzles. Most of them felt poorly connected and nonsensical. When I would complete one on my first attempt, it felt like a fluke.
Resident Evil is one of the funniest horror games I’ve ever played. There wasn’t a single moment in the adventure I felt anything close to terror. While I can’t imagine many felt the same at the time, the chunky fifth-generation models can’t be that frightening. The voice acting is completely directionless. Some lines feel like they don’t fit the context. Wesker just sounds like he’s about to burst into tears. If I was forced into some knock-off Guile wig, I’d want to cry too. I’ve heard many compare it to a B flick, but I’d call it D at best. Neither of these points are negatives. They are probably what made the experience so great!
Resident Evil is almost good. There’s a lot to love here, but a lot that I found tough to put up with. The game is short too. If you’re looking for a scare, you won’t be finding it here. If true horror is what you want, I suggest looking for the 2002 remake. That’s a review for another day. My first playthrough, an 100% run, clocked in at only just above five hours.