166th played so far
Genre: Survival Horror
Year of Release: 1996
As we approach the one-in-six mark, there’s only one of the major franchises (at least five games on the list) that we haven’t covered yet. We’ve played some Grand Theft Auto, plenty of Legend of Zelda games and a remarkable amount of Mario, but Resident Evil still remains untouched. Don’t forget about Final Fantasy!
The Resident Evil franchise is pretty much purely survival horror games. This first game might not have started the genre (I believe Alone in the Dark, for example, got there earlier), but it made it popular and had a big role in properly starting it (there are some who say Sweet Home, the game Resident Evil is a remake of, is the real first survival horror.)
Obviously, this game is old, and that reflects on the graphics. And yeah, that makes the zombies less believable and the whole game less involved. They tried to go for realistic graphics here, and as we discussed before, that doesn’t age as well. Although to be fair – somehow the graphics have help up well compared to many other games from this era.
Now, the big question is, though, does that make the game less scary? And to be honest… no, not that much. A lot of this comes from the suspense – there’s some sound from around the corner, is that a zombie or a partner? Does picking up the shotgun release zombies, a trap, or just unlock a door? What is going on?
Yeah, the age makes the effect work less well. We’ve had scarier and we’ve had better. It wasn’t constantly tense either, we managed to not get all that freaked out, it was mostly just tense. To be honest I was sat in a bunch in the corner since the idea of playing this freaked me out. I remember playing Resident Evil 4 years ago with a mate of mine (the same mate who leant me Viewtiful Joe) and being scared… this not so much. I mean it was slightly jumpy but Borderlands made me jump a lot more than this did.
On a related note, don’t expect much from the (voice) acting in the game. Some of the lines are so awkward, it’s just funny to listen to. They remove quite a bit of the tension that could be in these scenes… too often larger than life. I’m sure the story is quite intriguing… but it just doesn’t feel that way because of it.
I would like to say that the acting is meant to be bad because that would mean this game was a slightly satirical love-letter to horror films where the victims always make stupid like decisions. The fact that the phrase “let’s split up” occured so early made both of us laugh. However, this clearly is not the case… and it’s all the funnier for it.
Gameplay, then, is mostly good. It’s a mix of adventure and shooter, although the latter is mostly straightforward – the game has auto aim, required to shoot, so you can just shoot. You just need to be fast enough – if the zombie reaches you, he will start eating you. Beyond that, the controls can be occasionally clumsy. You have to use the d-pad, analog sticks not yet supported, with the lovely character-focused controls – left and right turn, forward and backwards move. While natural, they can be quite clumsy and get in the way, as often around this time.
The puzzles are fairly simple, mostly focused on exploration and some simple movement. Simple enough.
One thing this game can boast is story. We didn’t get far enough to get into the complexities of Wesker and the Umbrella Corperation but this story running through the franchise is one of the big reasons that this has so many fans. Characters like Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield keep cropping up in future releases (with the former being a staple in the Marvel Vs. Capcom games). The fact is that whilst this game has a lot of merit it is now very dated… which means that I am now actually looking forward to playing future releases like Resident Evil 5… and noone is more shocked at that statement than me.
In the end, however, this game is about resources. Conserve your bullets, so you can take on the inevitable enemies. Conserve your saves – you need an ink ribbon to save, which are limited in number. In the end, that’s where the challenge comes from. And a tense challenge it is.
Not as scary as it was. And quite difficult to control – we found it to be quite a challenge. But the tension of the game is still there, whether it’s because you’re not sure what’s behind the next door or because you know there’s something around the corner and you’re not sure whether you have enough bullets left. It’ll make you tense and careful… maybe not as much horror, but it’s pretty much what you want from a game like this.