Historically, Resident Evil 0 was viewed as the moment where Capcom’s survival horror franchise began to run out of gas.
Released back in 2002 on the Gamecube, the game was heavily criticised for merely tinkering with an in-game experience that many fans had started to feel was stale. Furthermore, the features that were added weren’t exactly embraced wholeheartedly and the story and characters that underpinned all the action have barely been mentioned in any Resident Evil game since.
So why, then, has Capcom decided to issue a remastered version of the game? Well, divorced from its original release date, Resident Evil 0 feels rather unfairly maligned. It’s far from perfect, but it feels like vintage Resident Evil.
The game’s plot is set before the events of the first entry in the franchise. The events follow a rather whiny medic called Rebecca and a criminal on the run named Billy who find themselves in a world of hurt after a train outside of Raccoon City is overrun by zombies. The pair realise that they stand more chance of survival together, so they team up and begin to try and track down the source of the outbreak.
The mechanics are classic Resident Evil; ammo is scarce, puzzles are left-of-the-dial and the player’s inventory is minuscule, which means they sometimes have to make hard choices about what items to use and what to leave behind. Mechanics are clunky at times, the camera is fixed and the atmosphere remains creepy throughout – even if it is occasionally punctured by the silly dialogue.
The main departure from previous entries in this series was the addition of the partner system in which the player controls both Billy and Rebecca. They can swap between two with the touch of a button and the pair sometimes have to work in tandem to solve puzzles.
The addition of a character to cover the players back may cut away at the game’s chilling atmosphere for some players, but having two sets of inventories beats one, even if exchanging items between the two is very fiddly.
Players who never really took to the classic Resident Evil mechanics (you can’t walk and shoot at the same time) will find nothing to entice them here. However, those who want to revisit the game – or indeed, play it for the first time – it’s surprising to see how much of the outdated design works so well.
Perhaps the biggest draw is the game’s improved presentation. The developers have clearly done a lot of work on sprucing up the visuals; environments are shot through with franchise’s musky baroque grandeur and character models have been improved.
The other main addition to this package is something called Wesker Mode, which allows players to switch Billy out for the series’ long time main antagonist, Albert Wesker.
On the plus side, Wesker has some awesome powers, which include the ability to smash monsters from a distance regardless of whether he’s run out of ammo. This makes the character superb for attempting a speed run through the game. On the downside the voice that comes out of his mouth during the cut-scenes is that of Billy, so he feels more like a skin than an actual character. Wesker Mode is also only available as a bonus unlock, so players will need to clock the game before they can use it.
Resident Evil 0 isn’t what you call an essential title and it’s likely that if you played it back in the day you either loved it or it was the point where you parted company with the series. It’s not as groundbreaking as the games that preceded it, or as ambitious as the one that followed, but it’s a solid entry nonetheless. Those who maligned it when it was first released may one to give it a second look.
- Resident Evil 0 is part of the Resident Evil: Origins Collection. It was tested on the PS4. Review Code was provided by the publisher.