Playing Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster is like digging up a time capsule in a lot of ways. The actual work of digging sucks, and isn’t super easy, so you’re likely to struggle a bit and ask yourself if the effort is actually worth it. Once you crack open the capsule, there’s a good chance you wont even be interested in its contents, aside from a flash of nostalgia. With that in mind, why the hell give this GameCube-era title the HD treatment? That’s easy — for people like me.
A lovingly remastered B-grade game is a strange thing. If it’s played by the right audience it will be adored. If not, confusion and frustration could turn someone completely of the series. Sure, you could say that about most games but I can’t think of an example were the extremes are so far apart. Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster is so incredibly polarising, yet for the record, I love it completely.
Allow me to explain. This review is positively overflowing with negatives, but in the right way. When Resident Evil 0 was originally released back in late 2002 it wasn’t cutting edge but held its own against titles of the time. Now, due to its gameplay and controls alone it’s nigh-impossible to play without laughing. What was Capcom thinking? Just getting from room to room is excruciating by today’s standards… but with that in mind, things weren’t meant to be ease.
Before I even mention what’s happening with the actual game it’s important to deter a huge portion of gamers from ever playing it. If you’re new to the franchise, it simply isn’t for you; the same applies if you haven’t tackled any Resident Evil game before Leon donned that adorable fur jacket. If you didn’t understand the last bit of that last sentence, you definitely should give this a miss.
Don’t even bother with 0 HD Remaster if you’ve never played either the original Resident Evil, or its equally wonderful remake, because this prequel assumes you have. There is a good chance you’re not included in the target audience if, upon hearing the words Resident Evil, you think of Milla Jovovich. Finally and most importantly, don’t try this at home if you aren’t up for a bit of frustration. There — I’ve just saved quite a lot of anger and wasted money.
With all those people out of consideration, what’s left is just the die-hard fans and, interestingly, most of those would have played Resident Evil 0 back in the day. Stand proud, fellow target audience for the HD Remaster, for we are mega fans who’ve played the game before and simply want some nostalgia.
Even before its title screen comes up, vivid memories should come flooding back to you. Its terrible introductory techno music sparked a vivid memory of the first time I played Resident Evil 0. I can picture the dingy, under-furnished share house I spent my days in, alongside the people who occupied it with me. After falling in love with the Resident Evil Remake that same year we — yes, all of us — were all sitting around excitedly waiting for this thing called a prequel that was becoming all the rage. For this game to conjure up memories so strong I felt like I traveled back in time is impressive. I’m sitting here now wondering what ever happened to Avril Lavigne.
It’s all downhill from here and, depending on your perspective, that’s either very bad or just part of the ride. You don’t have to play with tank controls so just don’t; the same modern scheme used in the RE HD Remaster wont solve all of the franchise’s control problems, but it sure comes close. Most of, if not all of the problems you’ll encounter stem from the pre-rendered backgrounds. Your point of view changes constantly, giving you a new reference point each and every time. It’s incredibly disorientating and makes controlling your character a mess; the most common example of this is entering a new frame while walking up with the analogue stick pointing down. To the game’s credit you’ll continue walking in the same direction even when the stick is pointing the wrong way… until your brain gets confused and you try to correct on the stick. The result means you’ll end up running in and out of the same two screens more often than not.
Looking back at the Resident Evil franchise, I can only assume the pre-rendered backgrounds were necessary to get the most out of hardware at the time. They stayed because they created some of the aforementioned problems. The sense of disorientation heightens the fear and hopelessness of being lost in a mansion — or train car — full of zombies. Oh yeah — Resident Evil used to be about zombies in case you weren’t aware. To take out said zombies and various monsters, you’ll have to shoot them… which in itself is a problem. You can only aim vaguely and most of the time the enemies will be off-screen, meaning you’ll have to rely on audio cues to know if something nasty is about to jump in frame and maul you.
There’s no on-screen HUD, so if you take damage you’ll have to check your horribly outdated menu to try and see just how messed up you are; that ranges somewhere between fine and danger. You’ll be spending an amazing amount of time in this menu, so get used to it. Every time you see something that isn’t pre-rendered you’ll know you can pick it up — assuming you have a free space in your inventory — and let me tell you right now: you won’t. After a bit of a struggle to get into the right spot, you can try and pick it up; doing so forces you back into the menu so you can confirm if you really want to do so.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the old tropes we had all forgotten about, but if you’re interested in Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster it’s almost better to leave those things unsaid. Instead, discover or rediscover them for yourself. I couldn’t in good conscience finish this review without mentioning how funny the bad sound effects are. One in particular had me laughing throughout my entire playthrough — every item makes a stupid noise when you pick it up. It sounds exactly like the record scratch at the beginning of “Fuck tha Police” so, naturally, I was singing that to myself throughout the game, completely ruining the atmosphere for myself and enjoying every moment of it.
Everything about Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster shows of just how far video games have come in the last thirteen years. It’s not something I want to go back to for anything other than a trip down memory lane. RE 0 HD feels like a historical or educational tool as much as a bona fide game. It’s amazing how the worse it got, the more I enjoyed it — that’s the thing about good B-grade horror. I’ve been saying for years I want Resident Evil to head back to its roots — and I still do — but I know now that a lot of people won’t be able to cope if it does. Either way, this game right here is what Resident Evil truly is to me.
Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4, as provided by the publisher.
Review: Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster