Resident Evil is one of my all time favorite video games series. I love abandoned places and zombies, puzzles and experiments gone terribly wrong. And the first several games in the series combine those elements well. There are a LOT of RE games and spin-offs/side games in the series, some of which I haven’t played or have even heard of before doing a little research for this post. So I’ll only talk about the first game since I could easily go on for hours.
Resident Evil/Resident Evil: Director’s Cut/ Resident Evil Archives
The first game of the series was released in 1996, but was rereleased as a director’s cut and later remade. Resident Evil Archives contains the same plot of the original but with added rooms and areas, the introduction of several new (non-playable) characters, one of whom is Lisa. Her story is a heartbreaking thread woven into the plot but she is also very, very scary.
There was an incident involving a series of cannibalistic murders in the area surrounding Raccoon City and the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactical And Rescue Team) Bravo team is sent in to investigate. After contact is lost with Bravo, the Alpha team is sent in. Set down, the team becomes separated as a pack of very strange dogs appear (if you’ve seen the movie, they look like those) and start chasing them. A handful of the members manage to make it to a mansion located nearby. Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton and Albert Wesker.
You can play as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine. Both have their own special tool that is unique to them, although (if memory serves me right) either one of them can also pick up the other’s item but it takes up space in the item carrier. And believe you me that space is at a premium. Excess items can be stored in item boxes (they look like large, wooden trunks) scattered throughout the area. Any room with an item box is a safe room. You cannot and will not be attacked there. It’s a good place to heal; exchange items and save, using a typewriter.
The objective is to the explore the mansion and the surrounding grounds, gleaning information about what has happened on memos, reading journal entries and reports. One of my favorite entries to read is the groundskeeper’s journal (again if I remember correctly). The last page reads simply: “Itchy. Tasty.”
Foes range from zombies, which are encountered almost from the first to a giant, poisonous snake that you have to fight twice. Genetically engineered creatures also appear. The Hunters are large, almost gorilla-like animals that have a very annoying and startling screech. The first time I played this game, my brother was watching me play and we experienced the first encounter with a Hunter at the same time. There was a lot of screaming involved. They remain my least favorite foe. Sharks (Project Neptune, and thank you Umbrella for giving me another reason besides Jaws to be afraid to go into the water), crows, dogs, snakes (little ones), and large spiders also make an appearance because zombies just weren’t enough to scare you out of your pants, I guess.
As you explore, you move further and further into Umbrella’s secret facility. The mansion is only a front; the out buildings housed a laboratory, Project Neptune and a mutated plant. Beneath the courtyard, a series of tunnels lead to an underground facility. It’s here that all the pieces of the puzzle regarding the nature of Umbrella’s experiments come together to form a whole, and disturbing picture. It’s also where Tyrant is housed, and he’s the game’s last boss. Tyrant stands about seven or eight feet tall (my estimate) and is muscular. He is a single-minded, hunting/killing machine, and nerve-wracking to fight.
Resident Evil is the only game in the series to have multiple endings. They depend on decisions made at certain moments. The endings and the fact that you get a closet key make the game playable several times and always fun to return to.