Resident Evil is one of those hallmark series that demands attention when a new entry is released. With a storied albeit wacky canon all its own, Resident Evil games have left their mark on many a gamer in one way or another. That being said it’s no surprise, and a welcome addition when we now see past entries getting the remake and re-release treatment. With Resident Evil 0 we go back to the mansion yet again and the remaster feels like a trip down memory lane, for better or worse.
Resident Evil 0 follows STARS Bravo Team squad member Rebecca Chambers as her and the team attempt to investigate some strange goings on in the Arklay Mountains from games past. As to be expected, it all goes south quick and the helicopter brining the team in goes down, with Rebecca finding her way to a train. After a bit of exploration we meet Billy Coen, a previously incarcerated marine who was being transported to serve out his sentence. Coen and Chambers are odd bed fellows, and while the story isn’t new, the dynamic between Chambers goody-two-shoes and hesitation to trust Coen is prevalent, and features into some of the game early on.
Through the events of the story, Rebecca and Billy work together to solve puzzles in a uniquely Resident Evil fashion; find doors/statues/pedestals with symbols, find artifact with said symbol, solve puzzle. While the system seems simplistic, and it surely is, playing through a true to form Resident Evil game brought back some good feelings. I remembered tracking down the water key, backtracking through rooms recounting previous zombie encounters and shuddering at the thought of using more precious ammo on any new ones.
One of the big leaps Zero brought to the series and games in general was the co-op partner and swapping between Billy and Rebecca. Both characters are unique and will serve different purposes, with Billy being the more powerful offensive character, and Rebecca focusing more on plant combinations and defensive abilities, each have their pros and cons. The controls serve this concept well as the right stick can be used to control the second character to help solve a few puzzles, or simply get them out of the way.
Resident Evil 0 is brought into the current generation with a healthy graphical update. The visuals on character models, enemies, environments, nearly everything goes miles to make the game feel as though it belongs in 2016. Unfortunately not everything is so welcome in the new age of gaming. Resident Evil 0 still features the awful camera quirks of static camera, which was abandoned by the series itself long ago, which has its numerous moments of changing angle while the player continues to hold a direction and pop themselves back and forth between the same angles. This isn’t a problem relegated to just this title, but is one that was solved long ago, and while it might have taken quite a bit of extra time to change up the core gameplay and camera, it’s immediately noticeable why developers have gone from static cameras.
While the game has received a much needed update to the visuals, they’re not found throughout the entirety of the game, which is weird and jarring at times. Cinematics in particular feel like some were forgotten or moved past quickly, showing characters with no pores or detail whatsoever. Rebecca’s medic uniform looks great in the redone engine with the red splash of color, easily visible details in the cloth, and defined things like cargo pockets. Weird it is then when snapping to a cinematic where it looks like she’s wearing a garbage collector suit with a strange white vest with no lettering, and everything is smooth. I don’t recall a time when this was the in thing, or considered to look good, but I might’ve blacked it out because look at it.
Dated as well are the inventory system, which features a small grid that requires quite a bit of maintenance, which isn’t the problem as that’s actually a huge part of decision making and tension in the Resident Evil series – it’s the picking up items and discarding them. The menu system itself hasn’t gotten updated much, and even though it looks better it’s still wholly annoying to pick up a green herb and have it launch into a menu screen asking if you want to pick up or use the item. It’d be much easier to just have the player pick it up instead of pausing the action. While sure, these games in the time this was originally created, programmed, and shipped were a bit less on the action side, they’re still being released now and should probably conform a bit more to player expectation.
I’m happy to report that the camera, weird oversights on some cinematics, and dated control/gameplay mechanics, that’s really all for limitations and downfalls. Resident Evil 0 is still a very good entry in the series, and does deserve play from fans of the series that might not have gotten around to it before. While the story is self-contained, new to the franchise players might miss the significance of some characters or locations, with nods to the first game right in the first location, it might seem as though you’re missing something. It’s recommended to at least play the Resident Evil remake, or take a quick look through the plot and points therein for some things to make more sense, but if that doesn’t interest you, simply reading the notes scattered through the locations might be enough to get the gist.
Also added in is a somewhat weird, insane, and well…kind of expected mode in Wesker mode. Billy is replaced alongside Rebecca by none other than the evil Albert Wesker, whose eyes glow red and using his insane powers granted by Umbrella’s viral hand, he can wreak some havoc on zombies, monkeys, and caterpillars all over the mansion. The mode is neat, and a cool new game plus addition, but it really doesn’t add a ton of value. While cool, and powerful, it just doesn’t feel all that great or like a truly substantial addition.
+ In-game visuals are fantastic and a great updating of the classic feel
+ Characters, story, and locations are classic to the series
+ Action, story, and voicework are insane at points, which is what a Resident Evil game should be
– Weird lack of updated cinematics make the update look all the more impressive, but still jarring
– Voice acting is awful, but that’s kind of a Resident Evil thing
– Not quite sure who the remake is aimed at
The Bottom Line
Resident Evil 0 HD is a good remake of a good game. Simple as that. If you like the series, or the original production, you’ll like this quite a bit. The remake serves as a great history lesson to gamers that haven’t gotten the chance, or a great throwback for those that just want to play some good old Resident Evil. Control, camera, and visual hiccups aside, the remake is good enough to forget Resident Evil 6, and remind us of the roots of the franchise. Hopefully this signals the return of true Survival Horror to the Capcom classic.