Like many, I had my eye on E3. I don’t know that I necessarily had any expectations or anything that I was dying to see, but I was excited none the less. It was an opportunity to see what developers had up their sleeves.
Despite rumors that Resident Evil would be there in some capacity, I didn’t honestly expect it. I figured, at most, it would be something about a remake of 2. When the trailer came up, I had suspicions, but come on? Could it really be? And it was! With a demo available later that night for PlayStation Plus members. Well, what’s an RE fangirl to do but take to Amazon.com to pre-order the game and purchase a code to restart my PS+ membership?
Of course, working girl that I am, I didn’t actually get to play it that night. Instead, the next morning I started up the download so that I could play when I got home. Boy have we got things to talk about!
The demo is part what Sony presented in their press conference, and part not. You’re wandering through a very small section of a house, trying to find a way out. There’s several different things I want to address, so we’ll start with the good, then move to the bad, and then finally end with some final thoughs.
This shit is scary. Hands down, I don’t know that I’ve ever been so freaked out playing a Resident Evil game. I was jumping and squwaking. My puppy was jumping back and freaked out. They’ve really buckled down and gotten back to some survival horror roots here.
The graphics are passable. They don’t blow me away, but I think they definitely work for what they are. Granted, I would love to see improvements, which will hopefully come with the final game, but the game isn’t ugly.
The demo does some cool things, one in particular that I enjoyed. There is a flashback sequence, but instead of passively watching, you actually get to play through the events of it. I don’t know how much this will come into play in the final game, but I actually really liked it. It gave me a history with this character that I was playing as. I think if used reasonably and sparingly in the game proper, it promises to be a super fun mechanic. Plus, it had a very appropriate aesthetic to it.
Did I mention this demo is creepy as balls? Seriously. It almost gave me some PT vibes, minus the psychological aspects of it.
The final good thing I have to say is something I say very tentatively. I feel like this demo promises a game that could give a very interesting, fresh spin on the Resident Evil franchise, which it does desperately need. However, that also leaves me with a lot of reservations of what exactly will be different. More on those later, though.
The demo is short. Very, very, very short. You can play through multiple times to take different routes, but I’m not sure you can ever actually come to a very different outcome.
The inventory interface is ugly. Like U-G-L-Y-You-Ain’t-Got-No-Alibi kind of ugly. I think when I first pulled it up, I emitted an audible “Ew!” However, I will give them the benefit of the doubt in that this is a very early demo. I would assume that they will make it a little more pleasing on the eyes and have that all figured out come official release.
I think my biggest complaint by far, however, is the fact that this doesn’t feel like a Resident Evil game. I reminded me more of Silent Hill, or even, to a lesser extent, Fatal Frame. It’s not even the lack of weapons that bothers me. It’s that we are put in control of a character who is basically helpless, and that has never been Resident Evil. RE has always been a game where the player character is a capable individual thrown into an unbelievable, apocolyptic setting. Sure, that’s gotten a little out of hand in more previous main line entries, but RE protagonists were always law enforcement (or Claire Redfield). Capcom has stated that this is an unrelated story and more just an example of the atmosphere they’re going for, however that doesn’t leave me any less concerned about the angle this could take.
My second gripe is the lack of any female characters to be found. Every Resident Evil title thus far has featured a female player character in some capacity, even RE4 where you spent a very brief portion of the game as Ashley and then had the side story as Ada. There’s not a lady to be found here. However, it is a demo, so I can’t be mad about anything yet. Also, there was a female voice in the press confrence trailer, so there may be hope. I’m just putting it on the record that if this game comes out and there are no main ladies, I’m going to be pissed. Resident Evil has always been slightly more progressive in that way, and if they suddenly take a step back? Well, let’s just say that’s disappointing at the very least, never mind a slap in the face to female fans. But, once again, demo, so we’ll see. Until then, I will remain cautiously hopeful.
The way I put it to a friend is this: “It’s a good demo, but it doesn’t feel like Resident Evil.” Between the first person perspective and the relative helplessness of the player character, nothing about this screams RE to me. Were it a different franchise or a new IP all together, I think I would be 100% pumped for this game. As things stand though, I’m nervous. I feel like this is a real opportunity for Resident Evil to be a truly great franchise again, but I’m so, so scared that they are just going to trip all over themselves doing it.
It’s a great demo. I highly recommend anyone that can play it, do. But, until we know more about this game, it’s likely to simultaneously remain my biggest hype and my biggest fear of any game in recent memory.