So here’s the deal. A while ago I decided to write about Resident Evil
, one of my all-time favourite video game franchises. The result was a 6 page-long Word document of over 4,000 words. It began with my intention to discuss what I believe is the scariest game in the series, but I couldn’t help myself from also writing more - about my past with the series and my feelings for the future of the franchise. This here is the first of a three-part blog I’ll be publishing, of my thoughts, opinions and experience with the series. I hope you enjoy it, and that it’s still not too long! Let’s start, appropriately, at the beginning.
My introduction to Resident Evil
was an unusual one. When I’d visit my grandparents, they had a PlayStation, and sometimes my Grandad, still a horror movie fanatic to this day, would play Resident Evil
– occasionally 1, but mostly 2 and 3. I’d become all giddy when he set it up and put the disc in, like when you’re secretly watching a mature-rated movie as a kid. I used to get scared but also excited – for some reason I liked being scared, watching my brave grandfather run through Raccoon City, taking down zombies, facing the terrifying first Licker, and out-running and out-gunning the Nemesis.
Of course, for a long time I was just watching, not playing. And I liked it that way. I was young and surely could never take control of a character inhabiting such a dangerous world. I was scared enough just watching, surely I couldn’t handle taking the responsibility of ensuring Leon’s, Claire’s or Jill’s survival. But one day, Grandad handed his controller to me. I was reluctant at first, laughing and trying to give the controller back. He assured me that I could do it – he ran me through the controls, set it to Easy mode, and gave me control of Leon. I let the opening cutscene play, even though I’d seen it many times before – it may feature zombies, but at least in cinematics Leon can take care of them himself without my guidance. It soon edged towards the end with the fateful car crash that separates Leon and Claire at the start of RE2, leading into the first part of gameplay.
Have you seen the beginning of Resident Evil 2
? There is no tutorial, no hand-holding, no time to think. You’re surrounded by zombies, many of whom are on fire from the crash as they shamble towards their newfound meal. It’s at this point, this dangerous and claustrophobic situation, that you’re meant to get used to the controls – anyone who’s played the original games knows of the unusual movement controls, where up on the D-pad always moves forward, regardless of the direction the character faces. Already I was terrified, doing my best to avoid the undead but inevitably running into some of them, offering each a chunk of Leon’s neck flesh. I don’t know how but I managed to escort an injured Leon to Kendo’s gun shop. From that day onwards, I’d ask if I could play, and not just to watch – my first step into manhood.
My confidence increasing, I eventually completed RE2 and 3. Just like as the backseat gamer I once was, I was often scared, but it was a good kind of fear. The lights were on, my family was around me, and we’d laugh every time something made me jump. It sounds strange but it was an enjoyable fear, a light-hearted and fun fear. Its testament to those old games that they can be so absorbing even in such a happy environment.
This was the first mature game I’d ever played. I’d mostly stuck to platformers and games without any fire-arm, and hadn’t encountered foes any scarier than Gruntilda and Gnasty Gnorc. I was drawn in and blown away by the emphasis on survival. There were no 1-Ups to be found here, no funny cartoon-like death animations, like Crash being flattened or reduced to ash. This person that I was responsible for, would be eaten alive if I wasn’t careful. And it’d be my fault.
It was the first time I took interest in a serious narrative in a video game, too. I had to be the only young gamer that didn’t mash Start to skip a cutscene and get back to the action. I’ll never forget Leon’s first Licker encounter, Jill’s helicopter (and only escape from the city) being destroyed, Brad being decapitated by the deadly Nemesis.
I felt ever so glorious when I completed each game. Playing a game to the end is boastful enough when you’re young, but this was a hard and serious survival game. It’s here that my love for zombies began. Yeah that’s right, I liked ‘em before they were cool! And oversaturated in today’s games.
Moving on a few years later, my Dad took me and my cousin down town to get a new game, and I’d stumbled upon a Resident Evil
title. At the time I didn’t know much about it, other than it having “Resident Evil” on the box. That’s all I needed. I’d played the games before, but was I old enough to own one of them yet? Surely my Mum wouldn’t approve. Yet, as I glanced from the back of the game case to my dad, he gave me an approving look that suggested he was saying “Son, there comes a time in a man’s life when he must shoot zombies in his own home”.
My cousin and I gleefully left the store and continued looking intensely at the back of the game case on the ride home, flicking through the manual. This was our first game that had guns, zombies, and blood. “Damn, those graphics look good”, I thought. It looked scary alright, but I was already a young zombie veteran. A new lick of paint wouldn’t be enough to stop me from saving my precious zombie survivor again. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
In Part 2, I will share what I believe is the scariest in the series – my choice may surprise you!
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