By Kimari Rennis
Due to my young age, when it comes to older, beloved videogame franchises, I sometimes feel like I’ve been living under a rock. The only Resident Evil games I’ve played are the demo for Resident Evil: Revelations on the 3DS, and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which I’ve been told has absolutely nothing to do with the main story. But with the remake of Resident Evil 2, I had the chance to experience a classic series and an interesting narrative which combined to yield a beautiful horror survival game.
Leon Kennedy is a rookie starting his first day as a Raccoon City Police Officer on a dark, cold, rainy night. The highway, as he can see, is barren as he pulls up to a decrepit gas station with crashed cars near the pumps. The downpour douses his casual wear, but with his police duties in mind, he investigates to see store items strewn across the floor and an employee desperately holding his bloodied neck. As Leon ventures to the back of the store, he witnesses a fellow police officer have the flesh from his neck slowly and painfully ripped off by a man who has lost all sense – as well as the color in his face.
This is not maniacal cannibalism, but rather an unknown illness that corrupts the minds of the dead and makes them start walking again. It’s clear that the only thing worse than starting your first day on the job seeing your co-worker’s flesh being eaten is being in the midst of an unfathomable apocalypse. Behind all this is Umbrella Corporation and their misuse of powerful technology and manipulation of science: they set out to make a superhuman, which unfortunately became a super monster.
While I was completely unfamiliar with this game, I was pleased to see that the UI was exactly the same as in Resident Evil 7. With that little bit of knowledge, I was able to use the controller to craft and combine items to aid in my survival. Ammo was scarce, but thankfully I could make it if I had the materials and the time. Herbs for health were strewn around the police station, allowing me to heal up, and the pieces to certain puzzles – keys or keycards – were placed in specific areas for me to find.
Equipped with a pistol, shotgun, and flamethrower, my play style was cautious and conservative. I tried to avoid conflict because a walking rotting corpse could be around any corner.
Whenever I’m in a stressful or scary situation, I tend to pause the game in order to collect myself and reevaluate the decisions I’ve made that got me to this point. At least 50 percent of my gameplay in Resident Evil 2 included time to pause, reflect and plan – with the silhouette of whatever inhuman creature I had to fight in the immediate future in the background. With limited supplies to defend myself, the plethora of puzzles around the police station kept me in a constant state of fear. Each hallway meant another confined space to fight in. Each shattered window meant another entrance for zombies to get through. And each door I opened was a moment of my unawareness: a creepy licker might dwell on the ceiling, waiting to pounce.
The confined spaces of this damned game made my heart race, and it quickly erased any confidence I had that I would complete Leon’s fateful story. My hands were weak and so was my mental state when this pale man in a trenchcoat lifted a crashed helicopter in his grand entrance to torture me.
People joke about Tyrant being like the Terminator, but I think he’s more like Jason Voorhees; quiet, buff, and unkillable. Tyrant towers over rookie Leon and eats bullets as if they were poppy seeds. Shoot him enough and he’ll take a knee in temporary defeat, but I think he does it out of pity, or to give me a head start before my inevitable demise. Whenever the game seems to be going well for me, I would hear his his menacingly heavy footsteps coming my way, his boulder of a body making it difficult to simply ignore him as he strides down the tight halls of the station, intent on killing.
Interestingly enough, by the time I got Resident Evil 7: Biohazard to review for The Circle, I had also received a glow-in-the-dark Tyrant figurine. Now that I’ve played the game, I no longer see Tyrant as a respected guardian in my room, but rather, a symbol of pure hatred and terror.
And now, I’ve finally had a true Resident Evil experience with the characters that have lived in the hearts of so many others. I seek to continue my journey in the Resident Evil Universe. (Editor’s Note: You must try Resident Evil 4 for the GameCube!) Although I didn’t play the game on the original PlayStation, I still found its gameplay genuine. It’s tailored to today’s time, confidently flaunting its compelling horror survival story – with a tasty twist of science gone wrong.
Kimari Rennis is a NY Videogame Critics Circle senior intern from the DreamYard Preparatory School in the Bronx.