Just think Night of the Living Dead meets Aliens but in a house like… well, Night of the Living Dead. Not far from Raccoon City, a rescue squad is sent on the outskirts of the metropolis in order to investigate a strange mansion where an unknown disaster has taken place. You play as Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, members of the S.T.A.R.S. rescue team. Solve the mystery behind the mansion, battle your way through zombies, crows, giant spiders, evil dogs, big monsters, and open doors at a painfully slow pace.
This is a survival horror video game from 1996, featuring polygonal characters. Keep that in mind. However, the developers did a great job in distinguishing the characters by their personalities, the way they move, style of dialogue, and so forth. Most of the visuals here are quite exceptional, successfully matching the horror game’s dark tone and story. Each environment helps bring to life the scary predicament that you’re caught in. Then there’s the monsters themselves. These range from zombies, flesh-eating dogs, skinned creatures with long tongues, giant tarantulas, blood-sucking crows, and many more – all of them feature exquisite detail and rendering. Even the FMV sequences look God-awfully good.
So Resident Evil was one of the very first survival horror games. If you’ve played some RPG’s, well, they incorporate some elements from that into this genre. There’s some puzzle solving which is required in order to gain access to certain areas of the mansion, items you must search for in order for you to advance further into the game, and guns and ammunition – plenty of it. Especially guns and ammo, those are the two things that will keep you alive throughout the game. If you find yourself stuck with an insanely hard puzzle, not to worry, you have plenty of ammo to keep you from death. As for the puzzles, the difficulty varies, some can be easy, some not so easy. You get to play as two different members of the S.T.A.R.S. rescue team, one is Jill Valentine and the other Chris Redfield. The differences in gameplay vary in terms of inventory space and items they carry (i.e. Jill has more inventory room while Chris doesn’t, he uses keys while she has a lock pick). However, whomever you choose to play, it won’t make a difference in terms of unlocking anything.
Walking, running, opening doors, using objects, aiming and firing weapons all pretty much make up the mechanics of Resident Evil. It’s all very straight-forward control mechanics, like many of Playstation’s first generation games. You may experience awkward moments with the camera sometimes as it likes to switch angles from corridor to room and so forth, but don’t worry, it’s nothing alarmingly disorientating. As a matter of fact, it does help to give the game that extra cinematic effect.
Capcom obviously took a break from their long line of combat games to present us with Resident Evil. And what a worthwhile break it turned out to be. Resident Evil is a survival horror that really immerses you into the genre it created, it feels almost like you’re stuck in a really good horror movie. Speaking of movies, this first game is better than all four Resident Evil movies combined. Heck, any Resident Evil game is better than those stupid films (which got worse by the sequel-load).