Apart from Alien: Isolation, the Resident Evil 2 Remake is one of the only Survival Horror games I have ever played, and it may have got me hooked…
Unlike many ‘gamers’ I did not grow up playing survival horror games. I never played Silent Hill, and I never played Resident Evil. It is hard to be a gamer and not have heard of these games, even if you haven’t played them, and I have always found these game facinating, with wonderful lore to chew on. Despite the interesting lore, the survival horror gameplay that these games focus on – inventory management, puzzles, and overwhelming enemies, have never appealed to me. I tend to prefer my horror at a distance, and watching other people play has always been how I have traditionally experienced the genre.
But despite the way I have always done things there is something different about the remake of Resident Evil 2 that drew me to it.
The first thing you notice about the game is that it is graphically beautiful. The game opens with a close up of an ultra-realistic and delicious looking burger, being not so beautifully feasted upon by a trucker. It sets the graphical bar for the rest of the game to follow, and the game certainly delivers on that promise. From the atmospheric rain outside, to the subtle way Leon and Claire flinch and get visibly worse for wear the more damage they sustain, and the grim and graphic way that zombie limbs get severed as you shoot their knees, the graphical fidelity of the game is impressive. There is substantial use of dynamic lighting which heightens the tension of exploring by flashlight, and the menus and inventory are clean, simple and easy to navigate.
The top-tier graphics make the game easy to be immersed in, and this helps to create a haunting atmosphere alongside excellent sound design. The audio truly draws you in, and listening to the silence, being broken by the wheeze of zombies, or the slow thumping of the Tyrant (Mr. X) as it pursues you is complimented beautifully by well constructed music that builds tension to breaking point levels before you are able to catch your breath once more.
It is a thrilling experience.
My only critique on the audio is that the 3D sound does not work particularly well for me. I have played lots of other games, including Dead by Daylight, where accurate 3D audio is an essential part of the game’s mechanics. Unfortunately there have been a number of occasions in Resident Evil 2 where I have heard the sound of a zombie attacking me from behind when they were infact infront of me, behind a door I was about to open…quite a disaterous audio error to experience. But this is a relatively minor issue and you can turn off 3D sound if it becomes and issue for you.
The controls for the game are slick and responsive using the same inventory system that was first shown in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and they are perfectly suited to this third-person remaster of the classic title. Replacing the original aiming mechanic where you had to stand still to shoot at enemies, you can now move whilst shooting, but you have to stand still for about one second to shoot accurately, essential if you want to score a critical hit. In this game aiming for heads in not the optimal solution, as headshots are not one-hit-kills, and the ability to instantly blow up a zombie’s head seems to be down to RNG, which is a frustrating experience. Aiming for kneecaps is the best way to deal with zombies, as you can dismember your enemies and they will stay dismembered, and can only slowly crawl towards you, removing a significant amount of risk from being in the same area as a zombie. This tactical shooting is actually very fun and there are several moments in the game where I have had a split second to pop off a quick kneecap shot to stun a zombie I need to run past to escape the Tyrant, with varying levels of success which add to the tension this game so masterfully builds.
The Resident Evil 2 Remake is truly masterful, and a thoroughly fun experience, if you can stomach the high levels of detailed gore and spooky atmosphere. If you are uneasy about blood and body horror, avoid this game, as these are present in bucketfuls. If however you have a good tolerance for such things, then I recommend trying this game, even if, like me, you are not a horror game fiend. It is well worth trying and whilst I have limited direct expereince of the genre, it feels like such peak survival horror that anyone could enjoy it.
If you want to see me play Resident Evil 2 you can check out my playthrough below: