Resident Evil (PlayStation) Review

By Athanasios 18.03.2021 4

Review for Resident Evil on PlayStation

When it comes to video games, this critic strongly believes that, whilst newer entries in a franchise are generally better than what came before, they rarely manage to capture the magic of the original - if ever. It's the reason why yours truly is still in love with Silent Hill, although its sequel is definitely the better game. Another example, coincidentally also in the realm of survival horror, is Resident Evil. Yes, each and every aspect of Capcom's 1996 classic action-adventure has been surpassed by its many "descendants," and yet, while the rough edges are even more evident after all these years, this remains a very entertaining ride, that retains that special... something, which still hasn't been fully recaptured so far. Take a look how the Racoon City Saga begun, with another of Cubed3's retrospective reviews.

From the very first game, to the almost spin-off-esque seventh entry and recent remakes, Resident Evil was never really that scary. Take the concept of the first one: nothing more than just a pile of sci-fi horror tropes, with the heroes having to shoot their way through a zombie-infested mansion, something that doesn't hold a candle to the unnerving feel that the nightmarish world and grotesque creatures that Silent Hill had to offer. Of course, it's all about presentation. In other words, Resident Evil isn't scary, mainly because it's an unintentionally(?) goofy, b-horror film in video game form. From the - pleasantly - lame live-action intro, to the unbelievably - again, pleasantly - bad voice-acting, it's hard to believe that the roots of 2019's Resident Evil 2 can be traced back to this.

Screenshot for Resident Evil on PlayStation

Surprisingly, despite the... cheese at hand, this still manages to have quite the atmosphere. The first reason is the use of camera angles. Similar to genre pioneer, Alone in the Dark, those can occasionally come at the expense of the actual gameplay, as you couldn't always see what's up ahead, but it's hard to deny how effective that can be at increasing the scare factor, and how more visually appealing, and even iconic some shots are due to it. The setting (spooky mansion deep in the forest) is a lot better as well, and the darker colour palette, great music, and excellent ambient sounds, work wonders. Generally, while occasionally very corny, Resident Evil leans closer to actual horror films, and doesn't feel more like an action game with elements of horror like the next entries.

Perfect? Of course not. Despite some cool moments (the reveal of the big baddie, for example), and the joy of reading through the various memos that are scattered around, the story isn't the game's best aspect - immersion is. In fact, the plot at hand, decent as it is, is way too predictable, and the characters never stray away from their tropes, with the definitely-not-the-bad-guy villain being so one dimensional that it's almost funny. Also, like with Resident Evil 2, playing with either of the two available protagonists hasn't been handled all that well, as you aren't really missing much by choosing one over the other. Sure, Jill gets to interact more with NPC 'A,' while Chris is usually accompanied by 'B,' but in the end it's the same story all over again.

Screenshot for Resident Evil on PlayStation

Being the archetypal, survival horror action-adventure that this is, the hero and heroine must explore a bunch of locations, find keys, solve simple puzzles, and kill or avoid some baddies. Ammo, as well as healing items, is in relatively short supply, especially in the beginning, and the inventory space is quite limited, therefore one needs to think when it's better to spend some resources, and when to simply run away, or when to take something out of the storage box, and when to leave it there. The difference between Jill and Chris is that playing with Chris tends to feels a bit like playing on a harder difficulty, as Jill has a lockpick, finds better weapons much faster, and has more inventory space - and is cuter. Kidding aside, Chris also has a few more boring parts than Jill, whose campaign feels better paced.

Screenshot for Resident Evil on PlayStation

Here's this critic's two cents on the original trilogy. It's safe to say that almost everything on offer has been surpassed by the next two games in the series. Almost everything. Almost. Resident Evil 2 has more enemies to fight? Resident Evil gives you less bullets, and thus raises the tension a tiny bit more. Resident Evil 3 has a big and fast adversary that chases you around every now and then? Resident Evil is a slow burn kind of deal, that builds the atmosphere before unleashing "the ultimate bio-weapon." The newer titles have better graphics? The original has that early-PS1 uncanniness that's really hard to beat. In reality, there's no perfect Resident Evil. They all offer a different kind of deal - it's just that the original leans heavier towards survival horror.

Don't worry. This critic isn't wearing any nostalgia goggles. Objectively, this is the weakest of the three. The sequels are more impressive, better structured, a lot more varied, technically advanced, and with a significantly higher replay value - but don't mistake Resident Evil for being just an unimportant remnant of the past yet, because there's lot to love here. The darker look, the moodier music, the terror that are the hunters, the less... blockbuster-y feel of the whole journey, the much, much, much better use of camera angles, the somewhat higher challenge, and, last but not least, the cheesiness. Yes, you've read that correctly. The cheesiness. From the awkwardly exaggerated animation, to the laughable voice-acting, this helps the journey stand out, even after two and a half decades.

Screenshot for Resident Evil on PlayStation

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Resident Evil is not just one of the pioneers of survival horror, but a classic. It's less bombastic than almost all later instalments, it's not as varied, it's not as technically impressive, but it has that special… "something," that its younger siblings lack. The atmosphere is top-notch, and, surprisingly, goes hand to hand with the intentional or not corniness that can be enjoyed while playing this PlayStation gem from the past.

Developer

Capcom

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

i still do speed runs of this every few months. a true classic.

Insanoflex said:
i still do speed runs of this every few months. a true classic.

My go-to speed-run resi is 3, but I love this as well.

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

I remembering reading an EGM guide for this game saying something about how to unlock the closet for 'cool new duds' it was the first time I ever heard that slang for clothes.  I was only like 8 at the time.  Later, RE2 was the best of the 3.  Did away with the stupid puzzles and mostly just got to shooting.

Our member of the week

I last replayed this back in October for a Spooktoberfest. Still fun times to this day!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4KjZYNE-r8

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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