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8th October 2012

Retro Corner: Resident Evil 1

Matthew Humphreys looks at a survival horror classic

The Resident Evil series has been a guilty pleasure for me for as long as I can remember. Despite the dodgy dialogue and controls, I have enjoyed every game that I have played. Resident Evil 1 though is the real highlight for me.

The game was very tense with a constant feeling that something was going to be waiting for you behind the next door, or a zombie dog would come hurtling through the window at you. There were both poor controls and very little ammunition in the game, adding tension to each encounter as you fumbled with your gun trying to shoot the monster of the moment, hoping you didn’t miss. The poor controls ironically worked, adding tension rather than frustration. Encounters were usually with one or two enemies at a time, but even a single enemy could kill you. Sometimes you would find a room with four or five enemies in and you would need to run away as fast as you could. Boss fights also ramped up the suspense, mainly because they would force you to use a large amount of your dwindling ammunition, leaving you to try and find something to fight off subsequent enemies with for some time after.

The game took place in an old mansion and surrounding area, with backtracking to open new doors and solve puzzles you didn’t have the right items or information for previously. The puzzles were clever, often mixing riddles with logic and really making you think.

Recently I played the Wii remake of RE1 and I still found the game to be enjoyable. The difficulties in control and lack of in game resources work to make small encounters tense, something the later games couldn’t do without throwing massive hordes at you, or giving some enemies ridiculous amounts of health.

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