The Resident Evil franchise can trace its origin back to 1996, with its release on the PlayStation. Since then numerous sequels and standalone games have been produced, as well as a number of movies best forgotten. Below is a review of the official prequel – Resident Evil Zero.
I played my first game in the franchise on the GameCube, back in 2002. It was in fact a remaster of the original. I actually I got the game for free after winning a online contest. Now, several of the games have again been remastered. For those losing track let me summarize. For the Nintendo Switch you can now get 3 games, Resident Evil, Resident Evil Zero (the prequel) and Resident Evil 4.
Why Resident Evil Zero?
As I still remember vividly playing the first game on the GameCube I decided to check out the prequel. As for part 4, I know it was the swansong for GameCube, but I won’t be playing it due to limited time. And so we got the Resident Evil Zero to look at. The original version was released in 2002 for the GameCube. In fact, it had earlier been developed for the N64, which recently provoked controversy when die-hard demanded that a copy be included in this remaster.
Considering this odd and lengthy design cycle I am surprised the game looks as pretty as it does. True to its franchise origins the game features some impressive locales that have high resolution textures and almost feel alive. That combined with the gothic horror décor create an immersive environment.
Switch is still limited
That said, the Nintendo Switch it still a limited system. And sadly, the player is frequently interrupted by loading screens. Entry to every room requires a loading period, sometimes up to 15 seconds. That adds up in time not played. I had hoped this remake would have fixed that issue. During backtracking the loading screens become quite a bore.
Also despite the impressive textures it is quite obvious this is a remaster / remake. Whenever the camera zooms into a narrow short you see the pixels. The characters also hang frequently in odd poses against a wall. You should note that this is not a triple A game in 2019, even if it was in 2002.
So what is Resident Evil Zero all about? Well, it is a survival horror game, and a puzzle game as well. You play mostly as either Rebecca Chambers or Billy Coen. The former is a member S.T.A.R.S. – a special police unit sent to investigate cannibalistic murders outside Raccoon City. The latter is a fugitive from military law, but as the game unfolds you discover not everything is as it seems.
Resident Evil was not beyond having more than one playable character in a game, but in Resident Evil Zero they will actually have to team up. You will need to switch between characters to solve puzzles and team up to win firefights. It makes the game more meaningful when both playable characters contribute.
That said, there are plenty of Resident Evil tropes. Zombies that come out of nowhere that cannot be dodged. Savage dogs flying through windows and odd camera angles that prevent you form knowing where your shot will go. Playing the game takes some finesse. But the unfolding story and décor are worth it – even if the former is undeniably cheesy 90s.
Resident Evil Zero is not an easy game, with limited ammo, limited save opportunities and puzzling puzzles it can be hard at times to continue onwards. But keep on trying. If you enjoy the game you should also consider the original as well as part 4.