Resident Evil was the first series that got me into horror. Sure there have been series since then that have captured my attention, Silent Hill comes to mind, but something about the first few Resident Evil games stuck with me, even nearly 20 years later. Even with this all in mind, I was not sure I wanted to jump back into a Resident Evil game, and even with all the rumours of a remake of Resident Evil 2, I barely took notice.
After playing it at E3, it has quickly become the game I am most excited for.
Since Resident Evil4, the series has pushed for a more action style, at least until the recent return to form in Resident Evil 7. Finally, after many years of rejecting the series’ horror roots, Capcom finally embraced it, pushing a more visceral, unsettling Resident Evil. It is from these roots we get the Resident Evil 2 remake, taking elements from arguably one of the best Resident Evil games in the series and injecting it with the dark, unsettling horror we saw in 7, and if the demo is anything to go on, it works.
Now, let’s be clear, while it does manage to increase the tension and sense of foreboding within the series, Resident Evil 2 REmake does not forgo its silly puzzles or give up on what makes the series iconic. You will still have your typewriter for saves, your boxes for the extra items you find, and of course the herbs for healing. But what Capcom has done is taken the most recent technologies and a modern game engine to capture the terror we all felt when we first booted up Resident Evil 2 on the PlayStation back in 1998.
The demo has you playing as Leon, exploring the police station just after the T-Virus outbreak. You have no idea what is going on, who is left alive, or even how to escape. The tension is palpable as you explore the station, devoid of life and relatively worse for wear. From the first minute of Resident Evil 2 REmake, I got a solid sense of the attention to detail the team at Capcom has put into this release. From the disarray of the station’s hallways to the way Leon reacts to the world around him, it felt like a truly modern experience.
While many remakes look to capture the feel of the old game but lose the spark that makes the experience, Resident Evil 2 retains both while pushing the horror in new ways, not possible when the game was first released. Capcom, with the success of Resident Evil 7, has learned how to balance that fine line between what fans expect and trying new concepts, and if the demo is anything to go from, Resident Evil 2 manages this feat with flying colours.
Moving deeper into the station, Leon rushes under a gate, trying to help an officer he saw on a monitor, along with finding his way out of the mess. Pushing past filing cabinets and under broken lights, I finally made my way to where the officer was, banging on a gate trying to get in. Pushing it up, trying to save him, I get a sense of another aspect Capcom has put real effort in, the sound design.
From the ambient music and screams to the sounds of teeth tearing into flesh, Capcom has crafted an experience that far outshines what they have done in the past. Despite this being a remake of a classic, they have managed to surpass what was seen in previous games, offering a horror installment that pushes what the genre can do.
Shooting my way back to safety, running past numerous zombies around every turn, the mix of music, a horrific soundscape, and my own urgency made for a truly terrifying experience. The sheer sense of panic that I would run out of bullets before I could make my way to safety was there, yet I managed, with the help of the local sheriff.
Triggering a cutscene, this is another area Capcom has outdone themselves. What could have easily been a simple segment was a complex, in-engine scene that not only gave an idea at the situation Leon is in, but also how dire things are for Racoon City as a whole.
After sorting out a few puzzles and fixing some faulty wiring to access a new segment, my time with the demo had come to a close. Where I walked in skeptical on what the game could offer the series, I stepped away eager to experience more and see what Capcom has in store for the final experience.
Capcom has learned from past mistakes and is building a game that should please new and old fans alike. While I hope to see a follow-up to Resident Evil 7 at some point, this title should be more than enough to keep me and many fans happy in the meantime. Slated for a release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in January 2019, fans will not have long to wait to finally get their hands on the game.