I’ve been a fan of survival games for as long as I can remember, and that’s a seed that was planted by the original Resident Evil for the PSOne. I have nothing but fond memories of that game.
However, I replayed it fairly recently, and it hasn’t aged well.
The game was designed from the ground up to be punishing, and it pulls it off by using a lot of cheap tricks, like limiting the amount of times you can save and making the controls frustratingly counter-intuitive. Those tricks worked fine back in the 1990s, when 3D gaming was still trying to find its legs, but they’re the sorts of things that have since been refined out of the game development process.
The fundamental problem with Resident Evil is that its “bad” design decisions were an integral part of the experience.
The game was terrifying because it worked so hard to de-power the player. You felt fear because at any moment, a zombie was going to pop out of somewhere, and you were going to have 3 pistol rounds and a control scheme that was barely usable. Since game saves required finding a typewriter and using a precious consumable typewriter ribbon, saving your game was always a gamble. And, with disorienting fixed camera angles, danger had plenty of places to lurk just barely out of sight.
The limited ammo, tank-like controls, strange camera angles, and rare save opportunities created almost all of the game’s tension, but those things are relics of a bygone era.
So I’m not sure how Capcom plans to HDify this game for modern consoles. So far, we don’t know a lot about what exactly is going to be overhauled and what is going to stay mostly the same. It’s statements like this that worry me:
Then there’s this line:
It’s somewhat reassuring, though still agonizingly vague. There are some judgement calls that are going to need to be made in order to determine which changes are “unnecessary,” and which ones aren’t.
So there are two approaches Capcom could take here.
1. They could upgrade the visuals and leave everything else as it was in the original game.
2. They could add modern flourishes, like granting more ammo, bringing the control scheme up to date, and allowing more saves.
The problem with 1 is that Capcom would end up with a game that very few people want. To be clear, that’s the exact game that I want, but I’m willing to admit I’m probably in the minority on this. The game’s flaws are exactly what make it memorable for me, but they are flaws and they’re going to be glaringly obvious to a modern audience.
The problem with 2 is that it strips out the game’s identity. It gives more power to the player, which is the exact opposite of what a horror game needs to do in order to be scary.
There’s always a third option, which would be to create some mutant hybrid of the two, but there are few gameplay “modernization” changes Capcom could make that wouldn’t alter the game’s identity in some very fundamental way.
The bottom line is that Capcom can’t possibly pull off a modern-day Resident Evil remake without making some sort of compromise. And that’s terrifying for me.