Resident Evil: An introduction to survival horror


“Resident Evil” provides a deliciously terrifying introduction to the survival horror genre.

Paula Gonzalez, Writer

Enter the iconic series of survival horror — Capcom’sResident Evil”. Since the franchise’s first release in 1996, “Resident Evil” has pioneered an entirely new genre of gaming. The game masterfully combines fast-paced action, freedom for exploration, strategic inventory management and flexible game mechanics to challenge the player and keep them sharp for the horrors that lie ahead. 

The two available protagonist options are Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, members of the S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) alpha unit, who have differing games and mechanics. The game begins with the team being sent out to rescue their bravo unit, who were investigating a group of bizarre murders in Raccoon City before losing contact. Tracking their location to the outskirts of the city, the team is viciously attacked upon arrival by a pack of mutated dogs, forcing them to take cover in a nearby mansion. 

Once inside the mansion the group is separated, and before long the player encounters flesh-eating monsters lurking within the corridors. The overall objective becomes clear: regroup with your team and escape the cursed mansion. This task will prove daunting as the rest of the mansion comes to life at the player’s expense. Players will face endless puzzles and architectural traps in order to steadily progress through the game. While around the halls, beware of any anomalies such as infected dogs, crows, snakes and mutated plants. But most importantly, watch out for the zombie-like monsters who are responsible for the initial reported attacks. Whether playing as Jill or Chris, the player unravels the mysteries behind the mansion and its terrifying creatures lurking in the shadows. 

The game is played through fixed camera angles and has the option to be played in the remastered analog controls or revert to the 1996 original tank controls. Both of these aspects may take some getting used to, but they can be manipulated differently depending on the platform used. 

Between the two characters, Chris has a more limited inventory than Jill. However, management of items is key to this survival horror. With lots of backtracking involved, the game teaches the player to efficiently plan and manage resources, which sets a precedent for future games and other survival horrors alike. Similar to resource management, the game only saves when the player is by a typewriter, but only if they have an ink ribbon on hand. Ink ribbons and save files must be used wisely, as there is only a set amount per area. While Chris has limited inventory, he’s able to handle more hits and move faster. With Jill’s extra pocket space, she has more gadget variety, such as specific sub-weapons or lock-picks that allow her much earlier access to items in the game. 

With two available campaigns and 12 possible endings, there’s no doubt that the game can be replayed multiple times. Completionists can enjoy playing for the numerous achievements available, which also differs between platforms. Players can also enjoy unlockable outfits and items, varying under parameters of game completion, such as finishing the game in three hours or less. On top of having three initial difficulties to choose from, “Resident Evil” contains three other unlockable modes to amp up the challenge. For example, after completing the game twice, ‘Invisible Enemy’ becomes available, which, as it implies, turns every enemy invisible. 

The mechanics and story wouldn’t make the game as remarkable without its clean visuals, sound effects and music. They become as “alive” as the rest of the mansion, carefully setting the tone of an area. Whether it be through fear or resolve, all these aspects elevate the experience and reaffirm the classic title. 

Immersing its audience in a nightmarish world, the 2002 “Resident Evil” remake is a great beginner’s choice and timeless classic for the survival horror genre. If there’s something to take away from this beginner-friendly experience and wonderfully crafted story, it’s resonated in the premise of survival horror itself: “Overcome your fears and survive.” 

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