Resident Evil has a long and storied history but perhaps the most telling glimpse into what the immediate future holds can be gleaned from the Remake of the 1996 classic. Released in 2002 on the Nintendo Gamecube, this complete re-imagining of the original game proved that this series’ potential would only grow as technology continued to improve. It took a game that gave birth to the entire Survival Horror genre and gave it a complete visual makeover that elevated the experience so dramatically that it still holds up almost 20 years later. Even by today’s standards, the game is absolutely stunning. I was constantly in awe of how thick the atmosphere was throughout. It was perhaps my most anticipated game of this entire series run for that reason alone and it did not disappoint.
Not only does the Resident Evil Remake remain one of the best entries in this long-running franchise, it may be one of the best remakes of a game ever. A bold idea considering we are on the verge of another high profile remake in early 2019. This game remains true to the design philosophy and gameplay style that shaped the series while bringing it into the light of the modern age. Considering the direction the series went starting with Resident Evil 4, I believe this game belongs in a museum for almost flawlessly capturing the spirit of the franchise and giving the series a solid foundation to fall back on anytime it begins to wander a bit too far off the beaten path. Look no further than Resident Evil 7 to see what I mean. That game pushed the series forward in pretty dramatic ways but pretty clearly drew inspiration from earlier entries in the franchise to keep itself familiar and grounded.
My time with the remake this time around was a smoother jaunt than I was expecting thanks to my accidental selection of easy mode right out of the gate. This truth remained hidden from me until I completed the game but explained a lot considering how rarely I struggled to find ammo or health items. I was admittedly a bit disappointed in myself when I learned the truth but I can’t help but revel in the experience in hindsight. I played this game fresh off the heels of completing Resident Evil 0 which proved to be a much more stressful, and at times, frustrating experience. I may not have struggled much with finding resources this time around but that never detracted from the overall enjoyment of the playthrough. The game still shines thanks to it’s incredible world design and atmosphere. Of course, important decisions still have to be made regarding inventory management so it really is a game that is designed to be enjoyed at any difficulty level that you might prefer.
Of course, the single biggest addition to this game (and the biggest question mark hanging over the upcoming Resident Evil 2 remake) is the horrifying Crimson Head zombies. This horrifying new twist on the generic Zombie enemy type elevated this remake from simply being an updated paint job on an old classic to a completely unique experience that stands on its own. Trying to manage my oil flask and strategically burn zombie corpses to reduce my chance of encountering one of these terrifying creatures is one of the most refreshing additions to the series prior to the dramatic changes that hit with Resident Evil 4. Having to haul around the flask and a lighter for these occasions really added a layer of stress despite playing on the easier difficulty. The whole system works so well because of the game’s design and how reliant it is upon backtracking. I was amazed at just how imperative it becomes to have a solid understanding of the map thanks to this new enemy type. The game really becomes all about memorizing the layout of the mansion and being strategic about where and when you choose to burn bodies. Capcom has not made any mention of Crimson Heads making a return for the remake of Resident Evil 2 but I suspect there are people at Capcom that remember how well this first remake was received and how much fans rallied around the Crimson Heads as one of the most welcome additions.
All in all, Resident Evil Remake remains one of the best entries in the entire franchise to this day. If Resident Evil 4 is considered (by many) to be the crowning achievement of the modern era of Resident Evil, then Remake is most certainly the epitome of what came before. In a series known for experimentation, this 2002 classic (thanks in no small part to the brilliant 1996 original) is without a doubt, the foundational piece that made every innovation that came after possible.
Next Up: The next game in my series run will be the original Resident Evil 2 which released in 1998 on the original Playstation. In celebration of 1998 Month, I recently played through the entirety of Resident Evil 2. I played the game to completion as both characters (Claire A / Leon B) and will be sharing my thoughts on that game soon! In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on Resident Evil 1 Remake in the comments below! I will continue to respond to all comments related to this series run!