1996 and I hadn’t long had my Playstation, in fact this may well have been one of the first ever games for it I had. Yep, it’s been 19 years since Shinji Mikami’s original survival horror masterpiece and personally, even with this remake of the 2002 Gamecube, it’s not a game that’s sadly aged well.
Granted, the whole survival horror element is still very much alive and well. I still found myself creeping around the labyrinthine halls of the old mansion just outside of Raccoon City, taking in that initial suspenseful intro to the STARS team and that first zombie encounter that still today can fill you with the chills. I still found myself freaking out, even though I knew those dogs were coming in the windows, the spiders were about to drop down and my aim for a headshot seemed frustratingly awry as a zombie slowly staggered its way towards me. The game still manages to pull you in and is chock full of creepy atmosphere that has you on tenterhooks.
For all its atmosphere though, it has not aged well at all. I must have lasted no more than five minutes with the original control method and still wonder how I ever coped with it back in the day. A quick switch to more useable controls and I was up and running, only to be reminded of the frustrating blind spots, inventory management, those doors (granted, a requirement for load times back in the day), what were blindingly esoteric puzzles that seemed to follow no rhyme or reason other than to bamboozle you. The game does its best to frustrate at every turn, some may say it’s part of the challenge, to me it shows how far game design and user interaction has come.
I found myself struggling to get going throughout, turning more often than not to walkthroughs to remind me what went where, what key was needed when, how to get it, what convoluted process was involved et al. It all ended up being an ultimately frustrating experience and not the fondly remembered survival horror I was sure I played back when Playstation first broke the mold.
Playing this again, almost 20 years since its initial release, reminds me why some things are best left in the past with a rosy glow. The Resident Evil HD remake comes across as one for the purists and fans, however gamers used to a more fluid experience may find the whole thing rather jarring.
Resident Evil HD is available now on Xbox One
- Classic Resi gameplay
- Subtle enhancements
- Creepy atmosphere
- Lengthy and absorbing
- Dated game mechanics