Are you a game company in need of a quick buck? Does the thought of adding new entries to a beloved series about a platforming blue robot make you feel confused and angry? Chances are you might be Capcom, then, and it’s time to put out another HD remaster of a game you probably never played – on a console you probably have!
Today we’re talking about Resident Evil 0 HD, a buddy-movie take on the survival-horror formula that was originally released for the GameCube in 2002. Much heralded (at the time) for being the first original RE game on Nintendo’s boxy gaming platform, it helped introduce elements that would become RE staples for years to come. The story follows rookie cop Rebecca Chambers and convict Billy Cohen as they attempt to survive some horror….on a train!
Let’s cut to the chase: what’s new in RE0HD? Well, the controls, first off. Yes, you’re finally free from the tyranny of prehistoric tank controls! No longer will you take damage because your character had to slooooowly rotate into the right angle to escape. That option is still there if you’d prefer it for whatever reason, but the more modern updated scheme feels and plays far better in my book. There’s also a bunch of new customization options as well as the unlockable ability to play as Wesker in his badass form seen in the modern games.
The graphics, of course, are updated as well. Everything’s nice and clean, though the game is still largely constructed using prerendered assets. You can run in 16:9 as well, which is a nice touch that letterboxes the action and helps keep things looking decent on modern hardware. In any case, the game runs at a nice clip on both console and PC; the latter is the superior experience if you’ve got the hardware, of course, but you aren’t missing out on much playing on PS4 or Xbox One. So far as I can tell it sounds slightly better as well, but having not played a huge amount of the original game it’s harder to spot the differences here.
The new might be intended to draw you in, but this is a game that’s all the old. Resident Evil 0 is ostensibly a game about survival in a world full of undead beasties, but in actuality it’s a game about juggling items, much like the other early games in the series. Your two characters, Rebecca and Billy, have their own inventories and need to coordinate slinging Macguffins, healing items and weapons back and forth for basically the entire game. You can drop stuff on the floor now rather than relying on item boxes, which is a brilliant idea that is sure to leave you scrounging for the door-opening doodad you dropped to make room for an herb half an hour ago.
In another throwback, the item management game includes ink ribbons which are consumed when you save. The game is fairly generous with these, assuming you don’t save every single time you’re given the chance, but it’s still a questionable design choice that the series did well to discard in later entries. Expect to lose progress if you’re new to Resident Evil or haven’t played this particular title. As for the plot, it’s the usual Resident Evil silliness with the taking-itself-seriously flavor of the older titles; expect plenty of killer leeches and viral mutations presented in as somber a manner as possible. Say what you will about RE6, but this kind of thing was way better when you could suplex the zombies.
I mentioned two characters, and this is the core gimmick RE0 brought to the table. Billy can push stuff, which is helpful for solving puzzles, while Rebecca can mix herbs, take more damage from enemy attacks and dress up like a cheerleader, because that’s what female characters got to do in 2002. If both characters are in the same room, the one who you’re not actively controlling will help you fight, gleefully chewing through your ammo supply. Typically they aren’t in the same room, though, as the game loves to split the pair up and make you figure out ways to transfer items between the two.
The point of all this is that Resident Evil 0 is a game from a bygone era. You’ll either love it for its nostalgia or hate it because of the awkward design decisions it retains. Personally, I’ll take Resident Evil 4 or its cousin Shadows of the Damned any day over this, but I can understand the appeal. Fans of this style of game are bound to love the graphical touch-ups, new costumes and staunch adherence to the original gameplay. New players, meanwhile, might find themselves frustrated with the quirks of yesterday.