Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 remake is out later this week, and I’m roughly halfway (I think? Who knows?) through Leon Kennedy’s half of the story. The short version is horror fans should be very excited—it’s excellent. I’ll have more fully formed thoughts on Friday’s episode of Waypoint Radio, alongside a longer essay on how Capcom approached a remake/reboot/reimagining, but a few quick thoughts, since the review embargo just lifted:
- The game doesn't feature unionized voice actors, an actively harmful decision by Capcom that disrespects the time, effort, and sacrifice made by workers advocating for better pay in better conditions.
- I remember shockingly little about Resident Evil 2. It’s clear Capcom has knowingly shifted the order of events in order to keep the suspense alive for diehards, but all my memory conjures are blurry, blue hallways. It’s felt like playing a brand-new game.
- I expected Capcom to nerf the difficulty to make it more broadly appealing, but this isn’t the case. Ammo is scarce, and you’ll be counting bullets. After missing a headshot, you’ll cringe. When a shotgun blast goes awry, you’ll scream. You will die.
- Related: If you, like me, find yourself at the end of every survival horror game with way too many bullets that you never fired because you were too conservative, this remake sees you, hears you, and will find ways to make sure you fire those bullets.
- Also related: Bullets are scarce, but I have enough healing items to open a hospital.
- On normal mode, you can save as many times as you want; save ribbons are gone. I’m not convinced this makes the game better, because there is absolutely something to making you think long and hard about when it’s time to save, but it does make it more approachable. (Ribbons are still present in the game’s harder difficulty mode.)
- The gun store scene from the original game’s intro is gone. This is bullshit! (It’s fine.)
- It’s tonally in line with Resident Evil 7. Despite the lingering presence of heart keys and medallions unlocking secret passages underground—and I really like how the game just pretends this is totally normal and not weird—it’s dark, scary, and brutal.
- I forgot about the Nemesis-like creature who stalks you in Resident Evil 2, the one some call Mr. X, and holy shit?? All I want is to move past this section of the game; my knuckles are tense simply thinking back to my experiences with him (it?) last night. The tall, bruising figure moves at a Jason Voorhees-like pace, and stalks the police station in real-time. When Mr. X becomes part of the game, he’s not a surprise that comes bashing through a door as a well-timed jump scare. You can hear his enormous, Bigfoot-like footsteps crunching through walls and ceilings at all times, his existence weighing omnipresent over a desperate search for more bullets.
- Do not play this game during the daytime. The atmosphere is heavy. Absent blackout curtains that magically turn your room into a crypt, make this a nighttime experience.
- Mr. X, though. Still thinking about it. Stompstompstomp. I promise you are not ready.
I’ll save the rest for later this week, but there’s so much to chew on. Dang, they did it.
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