Resident Evil HD Remaster

Resident Evil HD Remaster

Given that the primary purpose of a remake is to bring an old game in line with modern technical and design expectations, it’s a little surreal to be talking about whether or not a remake holds up against the passage of time. For what it’s worth, this 2015 port of a 2002 remake of a 1996 game holds up remarkably well. The shadowy pre-rendered environments are still a sight to behold, even if their gameplay purpose isn’t always clearly defined. Resident Evil has long been looked down on by fans of “thinking man’s horror” exemplified by Silent Hill, so it surprised me how sophisticated the terror is here. The story is pure B-grade schlock, of course, but the very deliberate pace, camera positions, and sound design (excluding the voice acting, which is no longer laughable but still subpar) do a great job getting under players’ skin more than any of the actual monsters.

Most of its flaws are evident regardless of the era of release and are often a result of the developers taking the once-revolutionary concept of “survival horror” too far. Ammo, health, inventory space, and most egregiously, saving ability are all aggressively limited, opening the possibility for all sorts of frustrating, unwinnable situations. Many of the puzzles are highly arbitrary and require trekking between all corners of the map to retrieve important items. Enemies seem to have highly variable amounts of health, and the high/middle/low aiming system can be very inconsistent. There are also the infamous tank controls, which didn’t bother me much, because, again, they succeed at controlling the pace of the action, an effect that’s ruined by this version’s optional modern control scheme’s minimum speed restriction.

5.5/10
5.5/10

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