Open that door, if you dare...
Resident Evil is a series I haven’t really gotten into. I’ve played the fourth and fifth entries and liked them for the most part, but it’s easy to say that I’m unfamiliar with the bulk of the series. So playing the first Resident Evil, a port of the GameCube remaster from 2002 now out on Switch, was a pretty cool experience. It’s easy to understand how the series became popular, as the presentation and gameplay are strong, filled with creepy enemies and a cool, dark atmosphere.
The goal of the first Resident Evil is to explore a mansion you and your team find yourself trapped in, looking for clues about what’s been going down in Raccoon City as of late. You can choose between two characters, Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, whose paths are slightly different from one another and can obtain different items as their stories progress.
Gameplay is very much puzzle-based, as you need keys and other items to unlock doors and discover new areas within the haunted home. Obviously you will need to step in and use weapons when necessary, but puzzle solving is just as important as maiming zombies and wiping out angry, undead dogs that come barrelling through the mansion windows.
The atmosphere of Resident Evil is easily the it’s strongest suit. The mansion is dark and poorly lit, creating the perfect atmosphere for a survival horror title. The graphics, which were completely redone for the 2002 remake, show their age with some grainy textures here and there. Still, the ambiance more than makes up for the shortcomings in this department.
But beyond the graphics, there are several gameplay annoyances here that really show this remaster’s age. For one, you need ink ribbons in order to save your progress. Granted, they are there to create tension, which Resident Evil is really good at doing. But it also feels amazingly archaic in this day and age, especially when you can only carry so many items, which is another issue in itself. With only so many item slots, there were often times where I would have to stop and look around for an item box so I could either grab what I needed for the next area or just dump whatever I had so I can move on. It’s pretty tedious and at times stalled my progress.
Despite shortcomings, the remake of the first Resident Evil title is a tense, exciting romp through a mansion that has a ton of creepy secrets. There are definite signs of aging here that make me appreciate current day luxuries, but once I got past those I enjoyed Resident Evil’s puzzles, scares and horrors.