Capcom’s Resident Evil HD Remake Is Going to Require Some Serious Compromises

Resident Evil HDI’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.

Resident Evil HDThe 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:

Resident Evil HDThose “other updates” leave a lot of room for wiggle room.

Then there’s this line:

Resident Evil HDIt’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.

  • Greg

    The Resident Evil Remake is going to be the GameCube version (with HD graphics and enhancements specifically designed for a Personal Computer). Which was AMAZING! I don’t understand why you are so “nervous”. A simple google search would have given you the answer.
    But back to the subject at hand. Resident Evil Remake is by far the most brilliant of Remakes, and stays very true to the original story. They even work in future plots and characters that developed as the years went on in the franchise, which were unable to use in 1996 for obvious reasons. (I won’t give you spoilers, but reading through documents etc. will give you shivers–and maybe a hard on ;-) )
    It is reported that the creators have said, “Resident Evil Remake is what we imagined Resident Evil to look and act like back in 1996.
    Believe me friend, you will NOT be disappointed in the least. In fact, after playing through this when it comes out? You will never want to play the original again.
    It is that good. I tried going back to the original just to give it a play through (because Remake has not been available for PC all these years and my GameCube is in Colorado). I had to turn it off because the Remake is everything that the original should have been and more. And I am a DIE HARD original Resident Evil Fan. My cousins who love video games think I’m crazy because I don’t like Resident Evil 4, 5, or 6. (I am going to get flack for that, I know. But I am very old fashioned and stubborn)
    So stop your fretting my dear friend. Resident Evil Remake is going to give you the best Resident Evil experience thus far. And you may even cry from both fear and joy for I don’t know when you were born, but when the original Resident Evil came out in 1996 I was 13 years old, and it was a great adventure back in the 1990s. It’s going to feel so fresh and like new again. Not many remakes can pull that off.

    • Josh Wirtanen

      Thanks for the comment!

      I’m going to be completely honest here and admit that I’ve never played the GameCube remake of RE1. I played the original PSOne game at least half a dozen times, and I remember it very fondly.

      I played it again fairly recently, and while I found the controls difficult to manage at first, I also found myself acclimating very quickly. While I’m fine with the original control scheme, I can see how they would be offputting to someone who hadn’t ever played it before.

      No matter which direction Capcom takes this remake, my points are still valid:

      1. Either Capcom reinvents the controls completely, they tweak them without overhauling them drastically, or they leave them alone.

      2. Every one of the options above alienates some portion of their fan base.

      I also must point out that, when I wrote this, the initial announcement had JUST happened. I’m sure there’s more information available now than there was when I first wrote this, but I haven’t been following it as closely as I’d like.

      • Greg

        Yes, you are right- people WILL have to get used to the original control. scheme. that is a staple of Resident Evil 1, 2 & 3.
        Though I’ve read for this release gamers will be able to choose from a variety of control options . I say good. To be honest Resident Evil was better before it became an First Person Shooter. After the third installment in the series, Capcom wanted to appeal to a bigger audiences of Call Of Duty type players and abandoned it’s Survival Horror roots that Resident Evil fans have looked forward to in games past.
        I am excited for you to experience this game. You are going to feel the fear and awe you had as. a13 year old experiencing an impeccable story line with stunning visuals mixed with a big dose of nostalgia. The game Tomb Raider Anniversary is a fine example of a remake on par with Resident Evil Rebirth. (A title used in Japan!)
        I will definitely be in touch as a fellow who breaths the Resident Evil universe. (I’m wearing a Racoon City STARS workout T as we speak. ;-)

        • Greg

          Forgive the grammati cal errors . I’m in the doctor’s waiting lounge and typing this on a horrid Android telephone. I try to move the curser to edit my posts and it moves words and sentences every which way. Very frustrating ! Very frustrating indeed. So I give up. The intent of my message is there :-)