Surviving in Racoon City — An Analysis of Resident Evil 0

Months ago, I commented on one of my posts that I was about to experience, for my first time, one of the longest adventures in one of the most beloved franchises in the games industry. Now I can tell you all that I was referring to Resident Evil, or Biohazard (as it is known in Japan) — the well-known saga created by the Japanese studio, Capcom, in mid-1996.

You may be wondering, “how does a person who proposes to write about video games never play resident evil?”. And I answer you with a little story… In mid-2008 or 2009 (Not sure about the year), I got a copy of Resident Evil 4 for Playstation 2, that was my first game of the series that, until that time, I only knew for conversations with friends. Like every good kid, I decided to test the game and to my surprise, it was nothing I expected. I remember perfectly finding the gameplay quite boring, the aesthetics did not please me, I could not cope very well with the shortage of ammunition, and had to face one of the most frustrating mechanics for me, the puzzles.

Since then, I decided to put the game aside and started to follow the franchise from afar, only through conversations, trailers, gameplays, and even through the terrible and unfaithful films directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. As a result, even without having finished any of these more than ten games, I already know almost all the elements of its plot, as well as its biggest twists and characters.

Going back to 2021, I decided I’d give these games one more chance, but this time, in the right way, starting from the start. Therefore, I bring you, this series of special articles that will expose my first impressions and experiences with the Resident Evil franchise. There will be ten articles in all, each dedicated to one of the numbered games, going from 0 to 7, and to the two main spin-offs, from the Revelations series.

Without further ado, we will begin this long saga with today’s analysis of Resident Evil 0, originally released in 2002 for the Nintendo Game Cube; and in 2016, for Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC, in its remastered version.

Plot

Resident Evil 0 presents itself as a horror game, with some investigation and survival elements. At first, its story seems quite simple, it takes place in 1998, when a division of elite soldiers, called S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Service), is sent to investigate a series of murders that happened in the Arklay Mountains, in the outskirts of Raccoon City.

Formed by a small group of irrelevant militaries, except for Rebecca Chambers, doctor of the squadron and one of this story protagonists, the group arrives at the site, where it comes to two very peculiar situations: a military vehicle overturned, with mutilated bodies of two soldiers; and a locomotive still in the middle of the woods. From there the group splits (no surprises) and we began to control Rebecca, who was in charge of the train investigation.

To the protagonist’s surprise, all passengers in the vehicle are dead, or almost, and the place is infested with mutant leeches — the design of these creatures is extremely suggestive. The only survivor there is the former Lieutenant Billy Coen, a former member of the United States military sentenced to death for allegedly murdering more than 20 people on one of his missions.

With our central character duo already formed, the player will investigate the reasons why the train passengers came back to life, as well as the Umbrella Corporation’s possible involvement in this strange case. The company is one of the most famous multinationals in the game world, responsible for the development of a series of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and, supposedly, biological weapons, called T-Virus and G-Virus — This subject is extremely important for the next sequences.

The plot of this first game is simple and straight to the point, the charm here goes to the way it is told, through cutscenes, files scattered throughout the scenarios, and main dialogues between the characters. Speaking of which, Billy and Rebecca seemed to me, at the beginning of the campaign, quite caricature, being Billy a very narcissistic military, and Rebecca, the helpless maiden. However, throughout the game, I realized that this was just an impression; through dialogue and cinematics, we better know both characters, as well as their stories, traumas, and motivations, which creates a very pleasant feeling, both in the relationship of the player with them and in the relationship between the two.

Gameplay

Unlike the graphics that, in this new version, received several improvements, the gameplay remained the same as the version for the Game Cube, that is, the game still remains under fixed camera optics, changing angles only in some rooms. Besides, the player continues to lead the characters always with an upward movement in the analog directional, which can generate a certain strangeness at first, especially when you need to interact with certain objects scattered across the map.

The game’s combat can also cause some confusion, as attack commands, usually allocated to the control’s larger triggers, are not used here, but rather in the smaller ones, along with the action button. To be clearer, imagine that a zombie is coming in the player’s direction and, to defeat him, he needs to align the character to the enemy, aim with the smaller triggers and shoot through the action button. Speaking of which, this command is also related to other actions, such as opening doors and collecting or discarding objects.

It is still necessary for the player to be able to manage the inventory of both characters, as the two have a limited number of items they can carry. So, throughout the whole campaign, you will be able to carry only the essentials, such as herbs, responsible for restoring the character's life bar, keys, and, of course, weapons. Which by the way are not few, RE Zero has a large arsenal with pistols, shotguns, grenade launchers, rifles, and some other items that can be used throughout the combats, such as knives and molotov cocktails.

Besides the zombies, the game has a good variety of enemies, which are giant insects, crows, bats, dogs, spiders, the leeches themselves, and many other creatures that have been affected by the viruses developed by Umbrella. The bosses follow the same idea, only with much larger sizes — We have a huge scorpion, a centipede, a bat, and, the most different of them, Tyrant.

All confrontations are quite tense, as the characters have few items at their disposal, especially ammunition. So, each shot must be carefully accurate, as a wrong bullet can have a significant weight in future combat. But to balance these mechanics, not all clashes are mandatory, the player can run through almost all enemies, just dodge the attacks and trigger the next door. For somewhat obvious reasons, this escape is not possible during boss battles, which, by the way, are not so memorable, except for Tyrant and the final boss, which are better characterized and quite disgusting.

Final Thoughts

Resident Evil 0 is an old game (no surprise in that), but I believe that even its remastered version has not been able to solve some of its biggest problems, which, over the year, have come to bother even more, especially in the camera aspect and room changes — the game has a loading system that, between rooms, a quick screen appears, showing a door opening or a staircase, and this can get you annoyed over time, as these little scenes happen for every environment change.

Also, RE Zero has some moments that I like to call “capcom moment”, where a given character performs an extremely caricature action, with various poses and made phrases, which took me a little from the game immersion, which is, in my view, extremely important, especially for this type of genre that seeks to make the player tense at all times.

Other than that, the title delivers a good experience, a little short, about 9h long, but with a cohesive and engaging plot, developed through very interesting characters. As stated earlier, the remastered graphics still go through the test of time (except for the cutscenes), especially when we analyzed the central characters, who received a larger detailing, leaving aside that uncomfortable serration present in the original version. Thus, the remaster remains, even in 2021, an accessible game, even for that audience of players who value more detailed graphics.

I confess that puzzles remain a problem for me, but I recognize that they are very important elements for the franchise and that, even if they do not please me, they still are well built and challenging, serving both as a barrier to the player’s progress and as an incentive for the scenarios exploration.

My experience with this game was quite pleasurable, but if it weren’t for the sequel's existence and for the mysteries set out here, I would be already satisfied. Anyway, the next Resident Evil is already downloaded, and when I finish it, I’ll hope to write one more chapter for this series.

Did you like the article? Do you have any opinions about the game? So be sure to share them with me here in the comments.

[Some images used in this article were taken from Google or from game community profiles on Steam].

And I know very well that I shouldn’t have started from RE Zero, but as I already know pretty much of the whole saga story, the order of the first two games doesn’t make much difference.

Hi, I’m a Brazilian Journalist and History Student. I decided to make this my space to write about video games, great stories, and, maybe, other things.

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