This title is currently available as a demo, and can be downloaded for free on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Rejoice! Over the past few years Survival Horror has been in a renaissance of sorts with titles like Alien: Isolation, The Evil Within, and closest to my heart, Resident Evil 7 coming out in the past few years and rejuvenating the genre out of a slump. Just in spirit of clarity, I am a huge fan of horror games and the classic Resident Evil 2 holds a very dear spot in my heart, co-occupying the number one spot for favourite game of all time. Resident Evil 2’s “One Shot” Demo has eliminated all my doubts about it, very fittingly, in one shot. This will not be an absolute first impressions, this Preview will be coming from a long time fan. Let’s dive right into the chaos.
This demo skips straight to when Leon in Campaign A first arrives at the police station, opening into the lobby with locked doors on either side. I was blown away at the changes the game had undergone, the lobby was familiar but lacking the emergency ladder, a whole floor, and the first door you go through had completely changed. Now instead you go into the shutter door on the right. Something that doesn’t open up till far later in the original.
Let me just take this time to say that this game’s presentation is phenomenal. I was worried that the changes to the camera system, being third person instead of fixed, would change too much about a game that I adore, but the lighting, detail and sound design creates a palpable atmosphere. Mixed with the camera it makes you feel small and vulnerable. You can hear Leon whisper encouragement to himself while he walks the flooded corridors, walls slick with blood, and littered with the bodies of officers and civilians alike. Gone is the machismo of the special agent able to crush Ganados with suplexes and roundhouse kicks in Resident Evil 4. This is Leon’s’ first day on the job and it is a doozy.
You encounter an old face in the flooded hall, Officer Elliot Edwards. He couldn’t stay long, he had to split unfortunately. And later in the section after fighting off some zombies another returning character shows up. Marvin Branagh who shows up to save Leons hide from some gnashing teeth. Marvin looks to be far more involved in this compared to the original. Equipping us with a survival knife he sends Leon to find a way to escape from the police station.
After you leave the main lobby, you will encounter a fair few undead denizens of the cold, damp, and ruinous hallways of the station. So you’re going to have to get very well acquainted with that gun of yours. Gunplay in Resident Evil 2 is genuinely fantastic, using your pistol and later a shotgun to put these monsters back in the ground feels satisfying, visceral, and all the same being so tense in its own right. While engaging the zombie threat your pistol will blow off parts of their limbs or their head, using this to blow off the leg of a zombie to slow them down or to shoot their arms off to reduce the grab range are all very important choices to make if you can’t spend the ammo putting it down for good. Let’s remember that Leon only just took on the role of slayer of the undead, so to line up good and accurate shots you have to stand completely still. Shotgun shells are in short supply so when you are standing there and the shambling corpses are close enough where you can see their milky whites it gets nerve wracking.
My only complaint is that 30 minutes doesn’t feel like enough, I want to spend more time in this foetid hell-hole. Oh well, looks like I’ll just have to wait till the 25th like everyone else. This game feels like something really special, this feels like the pinnacle of survival horror. Right now it looks to usurp the throne of one of the two kings of the genre for me, and if the rest of the game continues to be this good, I for one, welcome our new overlord.