Hot damn, Capcom is killing it this year!
When you read/watch an individual person’s reviews of a game, you’ll typically learn something about their tastes. You’ll pick up on that particular reviewer’s tastes; which games resonate with them and which ones they don’t. For example, I’m willing to bet that you guys are aware that I enjoy action-adventure games and RPGs, along with a few other things. You may also realize that I’m not necessarily a fan of survival horror, since I’ve stayed as far away from them as possible.
So believe me when I say that the Resident Evil 2 remake, a modern survival horror game, is one of the best games I’ve played in the last few years.
This game isn’t just a great horror game. It’s a fantastic action game, a strong puzzle game, and a great speed-run game! Everything this game attempts to do is done masterfully! It is a horror game that I actually enjoy playing!
Even if I get a fucking heart attack every time Mr. X shows up. But we’ll get to him.
Plot: So You Thought Your Hometown Sucks?
Talking about the plot of this game is a little challenging. Rather than having one straight-forward story, this game has four unique campaigns. And that’s ignoring the Ghost Survivors mode, which has even more! There is a lot to talk about. But I’m going to keep it at the simplest possible level.
Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield head to Raccoon City for their own personal reasons. However, they quickly get more than they’ve bargained for, as they find themselves wrapped up in the zombie apocalypse! Now the two must find a way out of the city while fighting past zombies and powerful mutants. All while unraveling the big question: what the hell happened?
While both Leon and Claire have very similar stories, they diverge relatively quickly. Both of them have their own characters that drive the plot, which the other character will never meet. Both of them wander the same Police Station, but they each have their own unique rooms that only they can get into. If you want to get into a Leon room as Claire, then you’re gonna have to wait until campaign Claire B, when you’re allowed to do that.
Honestly though, I think the story of this game is just okay. The voice performances are very up and down, much like the writing that they’re working with. The characters are meh, and their development is just the same. The plot is fairly well paced, building up the terror and drama decently well for most of the game.
I like it well enough. It isn’t my favorite plot in any game, but it’s still decent. Luckily, everything else picks up the slack perfectly.
Visuals: Bask in Every Wrinkle
There are a lot of powerful graphical engines out there right now. But out of all of them, I genuinely believe that the RE Engine is the strongest. And it is put to use wonderfully in this game.
Fitting that the RE Engine works well for a RE game, huh?
Everything in this game is just so fucking gorgeous! Each character model is incredibly well detailed, animated, and designed. There is a huge variety between the zombies, giving the world more personality and making them all the more terrifying. The environment is super detailed, bringing Raccoon City to life.
This is especially true for the gore. It’s incredibly disgusting, as you can see every drop of blood and every little hole in the flesh. This game is great for a lot of people; the faint of heart are not among them.
Sound Design: Each Step a Heart Attack
Normally, I wouldn’t dedicate a whole section to the sound design. But when its this integral to the gameplay, and this well executed, I couldn’t just ignore it. It isn’t just great; it’s my favorite aspect of the game!
Every single sound in the game is used masterfully to build a sense of tension and dread. There is little to no music for most of this game. All you have are the different sounds of the Police Station. Each distant creak of wood, echoing cry of a zombie, and crackling of a dead man’s radio build the atmosphere perfectly and tell the player one thing: you are never safe.
Then, of course, there’s the stomping. There is no indicator for where Mr. X shows up. You never know where he is. But when you can hear the distant, muffled stomping, you know he’s near.
Then you hear the door fly open. Everything stops, going completely quiet. And the muffled stomping becomes clear. He’s closed the distance; he’s in the same room as you.
That is terrifying. Completely. And it is perfect. Even if it made me replace my pants about seven times.
Gameplay: Too Many Zombies, Too Few Pockets
This game is survival horror at its best. It forces the player to strategize at practically every turn in the game. You need to manage your resources, plan out your routes, and manage which mutants you kill and which ones you don’t. If you aren’t careful and think, then you are in for a bad time.
The gameplay loop is simple. You, as either Leon or Claire, must explore the Raccoon City Police Department, solving puzzles and killing/avoiding any mutants that come your way. You dive deeper into the dark, face your occasional boss fight, and escape the jaws of death.
If you think you can just run and gun your way through the game, then you are in for the rudest of awakenings. Sure, you get bullets in fair supply. But zombies aren’t made of paper; the number of shots it takes to permanently bring one down varies. Some only take one, while others take seven or more. It is way safer to simply knock them down and run away.
Oh, and did you think the knife was going to keep you safe? Well, think again. Because those have a durability bar now. No unlimited blade for you anymore!
Everything in this game takes up space in your limited inventory. You need to find a balance between being well equipped and having space for items. If you find an important item for a puzzle and you have no space left, guess what? You’ve gotta run back to the safe room and get some inventory space.
And when you’ve got Mr. X strolling around, having to do so is equal parts terrifying and dangerous.
On the subject of which, lets talk about the break out star of this game. Mr. X is easily the scariest thing in this whole game! The moment he shows up, the whole game goes from ‘chilling’ to ‘pants-shitting’. He is unstoppable, relentless, and endlessly terrifying. And we’ve already talked about the sound design.
I hate this guy and I love this guy. He is the perfect addition to the game. Though the terror of him in later playthroughs is sort of reduced. Hard to be scared of a guy after you murder him in his ‘Final Boss’ mode, huh?
I honestly never expected to care about this game. Before this, I could never get into the Resident Evil franchise as much as I had wanted to. I enjoyed 3 and 4 and that was about it. But now? This is easily my favorite RE game, as well as my favorite horror game.
If you still haven’t picked this game up, I’d highly recommend you do. It’s easily one of the best games of the year so far, and one of the best horror games of the last decade. This game is absolutely worth every penny.
Now all we have to do is wait another twenty years for them to remake RE3: Nemesis. I would actually kill a man for that.