March 12th, 2010
In Resident Evil 0 there were two “phenomenas” which occurred during my play time that have no relation to the patented “partner zapping” system.
Calculating Progress by the Inch
Sure, it’s probably no Demon’s Souls, but as a game in tune with survival, Resident Evil 0 sure does make you respect each inch of progress. Because resources are so scarce and the chance of wasting precious resources so opportune, minor developments feel like large triumphs. The fear of stifling one’s progress goes hand in hand with the fear of being scared. What I’m trying to say is that the “survival” and the “horror” sure do go well together. ^_^
This also bears a metaphoric likeness to my personal experiences as a kid and maybe your’s too, that is, if you’re anything like me, ie. big scaredy cat. When you had to get up and leave your room in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, it was a pretty big deal, right? You’ll sit their in bed spooked, because you’re so frightened that you become more observant of the sound around you, and psychologically it takes on an imagined life of its own. Finally, you summon the courage to go, you know that you can’t hold it in, it’s not worth it, so you open your door and run down the hall trying hard not to survey the darkness, otherwise if you stare for too long *insert childhood nightmare* will jump out at you. You finally make it to the toilet, do your business, make the fast escape back to the bedroom, climb into bed and only once under the covers breathe a sigh of relief. Resident Evil 0 sort of reminded me of this experience as a child, in part, it’s a simulation of the experience. You’ll check the map, section out the unexplored areas from the safe zones, plan a route which’ll return you safely to a save point. Just as when I was a kid, anytime I see (think I see) a monster of some sort (I mean, one more dangerous than a common zombie), I’ll flee immediately to the nearest door. You kinda tense up in these moments of running down the hallway, the difference being that one is primal fear and the other is more a fear of survival. Once I return back to base, I usually feel pretty relieved and even though I’ve only walked down the hall and bagged a few new items, I feel impulsed to save my game, to seal that progress in amber. Fortunately I could see what was going on, I could see how Capcom were playing gamers right into their hand, intending for them to needlessly save. I avoided this a lot actually and always found myself throwing away ink ribbons. Take that childhood fears!
As a side note, the route planning aspect I mentioned is very interesting as it matches well with the detective feel to the game, personally speaking, I think it gives the player an independence and I really appreciated that.
Tactical Item Dropping/Littering
The absence of the bottomless item box and the inclusion of a second partner, forms a new phenomena of its own, which I’ll dub “tactical item dropping”, I like the sound of “tactical littering” better, but it doesn’t suggest function so much. Anyways, I digress, tactical item dropping is the phenomena whereby you leave items in the environment based on a strategic purpose. This phenomena isn’t emergent or anything, it’s basically imposed on the player, since the limited 6 item slots per character offer little flexibility. Basically, guns, ammo, health and puzzle items you want to keep with you as much as possible, however, sometimes these pile up, in which case you’ll leave some items and set off to use the others, hopefully returning with free spots in your inventory. The trick is to leave items in “safe zones” so that you won’t have to waste bullets or health retrieving what you’ve left behind later. In many ways, the strategic item dropping enhances the route planning nature of the game and creates a stronger distinction between safe and unsafe areas.This all adds to the co-operative tang to Resident Evil 0.
It sounds a little overbearing and I have no doubt that Resident Evil 0 was strong criticised over it’s strategic item dropping. There’s a great deal of micro-management involved in the process which can be a little burdensome at times, considering how many menu you have to sorta through, however, I rather enjoyed it.
The items that you drop are shown on your map too, which is handy as upon leaving an area as you’ll refer to the map to see what you’ve left behind and discover a sort of tracing of your history based on the trail of items strewn in your path. Each item is indicative of a sacrifice you had to make, so the symbolism here is important.