March 10th, 2010
Three ideas were cycling through my mind when playing Resident Evil 0, figured that they’d go well together in a tasty dish. Bon appétit.
Beccy, Billy and Detective Dan
Even though I’ve completed Resident Evil Remake, Resident Evil 3 and other puzzle-heavy adventure games, Resident Evil 0 was the first time I actually felt like a successful detective. (Maybe these aren’t the intents of the Resident Evil games, but it’s certainly something I’ve inferred from playing). With the other Resident Evil games I usually have to drip-feed my way through on a play guide since I struggle to solve all the puzzles by myself. In Resident Evil 0 though, I only consulted a FAQ for trivial matters such as overlooking small details. I’m so pleased with my new-found interest in “detective” gaming and now I want to try out similar titles. I’ve been thinking hard about why Resident Evil 0 was a softer nut to crack and besides simply getting lucky at times, here’s my reasoning:
Resident Evil 0 is very segregated. Sure, the training facility is clearly the largest single area in the game, but each of the 6 self-contained maps are small enough not to be overwhelming, in fact some of them are just short pitstops. The mansion in Resident Evil, on the other hand, is terribly overwhelming. In RE Remake, if you miss one clue then there are plenty of potholes to fall down, but in Resident Evil 0 the options are fewer and therefore it’s easier to remain on track. Resident Evil 0 also begins on the Ecliptic Express which acts as a fantastic tutorial area since there are very few ways to make a wrong move. Resident Evil Remake, however, quite brutally starts you off in an open mansion and every time a new key is discovered the newly available areas are many.
A Slice of History
I think it’s important for us to enjoy a game on its own terms, on what the game is supposing, rather than a fixed set of expectations, hearsay or assumed norms*. As I established in the prior post, Resident Evil is an important part of our history and for this reason I interpret Resident Evil Remake and Resident Evil 0, particularly in a current context (even though I played the GCN version and not the recently released Wii version), as something of a time capsule which has captured a certain style of play, the old-way of doing survival horror, in a very fresh, attractive-looking wrapper. It feels well-worn without suggesting so by the presentation, and that makes it more palatable point of entry for a given slice of our history.
At the same time, Resident Evil 0 is essentially the B-sides of the original game, a classic and that itself quite the companion piece to those wishing to further explore the history of this genre.
*It’s for this reason that 2D games or obscure genres such as shmps or on-rails shooters almost always get panned by critics. Games which involve killing people whilst ripping off hollywood tropes are idealised and other genres are seen as derelict.
Game of Solace
As I discussed in a previous article on Prince of Persia, I’m finding that I prefer games which just shut the hell up when it comes to narrative. I enjoy details being left as implicit and the environment allowing me to become subsumed in the atmosphere. Resident Evil, just like Prince of Persia has the awkward tendency to kill the atmosphere with shit narrative, I just don’t care.
The sad fact is that both of these franchises feature gorgeous environments and atmosphere that I enjoy becoming immersed in. Resident Evil 0 was admittedly one of the closest games I’ve experience to my imagined “Game of Solace”. It was, for once, quiet and allows the player to explore the environment at their own will, without needless interruption. I guess this is why I’m so fond of Resident Evil 0.