Surviving in Racoon City — An Analysis of Resident Evil

This is another review of the Resident Evil special series. So, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I suggest you take a look at the last article published on this page, which cover the first (numbered) game in the franchise, Resident Evil 0.

Following the numerical logic, I bring to you my first impressions and analysis of Resident Evil, originally released in 1996 for Nintendo GameCube, and later, in 2002, for Nintendo Switch, Playstation 3, 4, Xbox 360, One and PCs, in a completely remade version, the same version used for this review.

Like RE Zero, Resident Evil is a survival horror, developed and published by Capcom. It’s comes from the mind of the Japanese designer and director Shinji Mikami, who worked at the company for several years before starting this game production. According to him, his main inspirations come from a rather curious place, from another of his games, the Goff Troop (an action, adventure, and puzzle game based on the 90s Goofy animations); during an interview, Mikami commented that the game would have served as the basis for an idea he had already been developing, of a game that mixed elements of survival, puzzles solution and horror, set in a haunted mansion.

To know more about this bizarre relation I strongly recommend the following text: cbr.com/goof-troop-game-by-resident-evil-creator/

Now that you know a little more about the history behind the game, let’s start today’s analysis.

Plot

Before we begin, I would like to warn that I will set this analysis into small segments, each dedicated to each one of the protagonists, plus a final block commenting my final considerations. With that said, let’s go to the plot.

Resident Evil takes place right after the events of RE Zero, that is, still in the 1998 year. A new group of agents from the S.T.A.R.S unit, called the Alpha Team, was sent to the Arklay Mountains to investigate the disappearance of the Bravo team, the one Rebecca was part of. With this new unit of soldiers, in addition to the usual irrelevant ones, we are introduced to some of the most important characters in the franchise, Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Barry Burton, and Albert Wesker.

Arriving at the location, the team come up with the abandoned Bravo team helicopter and its dead and completely maimed pilot. From there, the investigation continues until the moment when everyone is surprised by a pack of mutant dogs, which ends up devouring one of the group members.

In a desperate attempt at survival, the four remaining souldiers, the same ones mentioned earlier, set off toward an abandoned mansion nearby. Already on-site, the four begin an investigation, searching for an escape route that avoids contact with the creatures that began to infest the forest. Throughout the night, and throughout the campaign, we discover that the mansion is full of zombies and other bloodthirsty creatures. As soon as possible, and now almost certain, Umbrella Corporation’s involvement in the appearance of these anomalies. It’s about 12 hours of tension, exploration, conflict, and some twists and turns.

Gameplay

The gameplay follows the same molds as the previous game (or later, since, chronologically, RE Zero was released years after this title). The camera is fixed, changing angles as the character moves through the scenarios and the controls remain the same, with an upward movement on the control, causing the same discomfort to the player when trying to interact with certain objects in a certain room.

A highlight of the game goes to the setting. The scenarios may seem somewhat “normal” at first, but all were built to create more and more strangeness and discomfort as the player progresses in the campaign

The characters continue to automatically target at enemies, it is still possible to collect objects from the ground, the inventory remains limited and there are very few items available, that remained the same, such as keys, healing herbs, ink for the typewriter (where the player saves the game progress) and weapons, which, at least for me, have been reduced. The game’s arsenal features pistols, knives, shotguns, a grenade launcher, and a flamethrower. In addition to these, the characters also have items that can be used defensively at certain moments, such as daggers, tasers, and grenades, which are only used when a particular creature grabs one of the protagonists.

An important differential of this sequence is the inventory manegment, which, unlike RE Zero, cannot be managed at any time. In some mansion rooms are arranged chests, where the player can deposit items that are not necessary for a given situation, with this new concept, the player is unable to discard objects at any time, which creates, in my opinion, a terrible situation; because, as the game goes on and, at first, we do not know how to solve the puzzles, we need to walk around the whole mansion justo to seek for some item in one of this chests. It would be much easier if we could drop items by the mansion to be able to collect them as soon as necessary.

And just like in RE Zero, enemies are, mostly, modified versions of creatures from the junction of their DNA with the T-virus, so there are zombies, mutant dogs, giant spiders, crows, snakes, and even sharks. The bosses follow the same logic, only that larger, more aggressive, and almost immortal, as a version of Tyrant, the final boss of the previous game (according to the franchise lore, the monster has different versions, based on its genetic mutation and, the one we face here, is only one of those mutations)and Lisa Trevor.

Lisa is the daughter of the men in charge of the mansion construction where the game takes place. The girl, as a child, was used as a guinea pig by Umbrella Corp., being subjected to numerous viral experiments, which strengthened her and turned her into an uncontrollable bloodthirsty creature, with a bizarre habit of plucking and “dressing” the faces of those who got in her way

Jill Valentine

As stated earlier, I separated some parts of the text to speak specifically of each character’s campaigns. So, let’s go to the first one, starring Agent Jill Valentine.

From Jill’s perspective, upon arriving at the mansion, Chris Redfield is missing, so we investigated the place with the help of Barry and Wesker. In the most Scooby-Doo way possible, everyone parts to investigate some areas, to only meet again when the game wants to develop some story part.

From this subject, I can highlight two important points. By separating the characters, the game allows the player to create a closer relationship with Jill, as we see the plot by her eyes, but at the same time it also creates a strange relationship with the other characters, which impacts, at certain times, especially in the end, the consequences of each one of them.

Also, the story has some other rather strange elements. Everyone there accepts the oddities of the mansion very easily. I understand that all are trained soldiers, but none of them express a slight reaction or fear when encountering zombies or mutant creatures. Besides, none of the three characters share any information with the others.

For you to have an idea; at one point, Jill finds one of the Alpha team’s soldiers trapped in an underground hallway of the mansion, she finds him badly injured and, when he tries to pass some information to her, he ends up being shot by a mysterious figure who appears behind Jill. So far so good, we realize that there is a possible traitor on the team or that someone does not want any information to leak. The situation gets very bizarre when Jill is not surprised by what happened, does not go after the figure that shot his friend and do not say a word for Barry, who she encounters moments after.

This lack of communication and some other campaing situations made me think that the characters are quite dumb, especially Jill, who, despite being smart enough to solve various types of puzzles, acts naturally in front of a teammate who is clearly doing everything to make her die.

Despite these details, Jill’s plot is quite cohesive, featuring few characters and some good twists, somewhat predictable but good. And as much as the ending closes the arc of the characters satisfactorily, I couldn’t help but see it hours away.

Chris Redfield

In Chris’s campaign, the plot develops in the same way, but with some minor changes. Upon arriving at the mansion, Barry is missing, so we investigate the place with the help of Jill and Wesker. After a few comings and goings through the various rooms of the house, both disappear and Chris can only count on Rebecca’s help, who, shortly after the outcome of RE Zero, headed to the mansion that was near the place from which she had espcaped in the previous game.

The same close relationship with the protagonist, which I mentioned before, happens during this campaign and, unlike the relationship between Jill and Barry, Chris and Rebecca manage to develop a much more believable friendship, in which both help each other in times of need, either to unravel some secret or to protect themselves during the attack of a particular creature.

Some other elements mentioned above are also repeated in this campaing, such as the easy acceptance and the lack of communication. However, Chris is not as listless as Jill and even confronts some characters who have been acting rather suspiciously.

Apart from these little details, the two campaigns are completely identical, the items and enemies remain in the same places, the same bosses are defeated, and the ending is the same for both characters, showing that both Jill and Chris were able to flee the site, revealing some mysteries about Umbrella Corp.’s involvement in the creation and spread of the T-virus, which we will see in more in the upcoming games.

Final Considerations

I end this analysis by stating that Resident Evil is a great game, but unfortunately, for me, playing it was somewhat miserable. In my view, the experience that the game offers is one of those that is only enjoyed by a portion of the community. Not all players can hold on to a game as slow as this, with few action moments, lots of puzzles and comings, and goings through dozens of rooms, all accompanied, as well as in RE Zero, by a loading screen.

Of course, the elements mentioned above are the same ones that made this a great success decades ago, but I think the modern audience values a much “livelier” experience and, fortunately or unfortunately, so do I.

Anyway, Here I conclude another episode of this saga, and, grace god, we come to the most modern games in the franchise. So, until next time, when I’ll analyze Resident Evil 2 Remake.

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]

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.