Resident Evil and its excellent use of puzzles, navigations and decision making

So recently, on my PC, I was playing Resident Evil Remastered (which is the remaster of the remake of the original game… Damn, it transcended generations). To be completely honest, I actually never really had played much of it before. I remember watching my brother and his friends playing the Gamecube version of the game when I was only a young kid. I remember them navigating around that gigantic mansion, traverse that lab. I remember being enshrouded in the darkness provoked by the curtains of the room, only being lit by the TV’s light.

Hence, when I picked up the game on Steam (no idea where the Gamecube version is) through a sale, I was quite excited. I wanted to experience that mansion by myself. I wanted to solve those puzzles by myself (FYI, I completely forgot about them prior to playing the PC version).

After playing an initial playthrough with Jill, all I can say is that I’m looking forward to replay as Chris.

But why? Why would I want to replay the game so soon? What made the game so enjoyable and memorable?

1) Resident Evil features one of the most punishing inventory management systems I’ve seen so far – and that is a good thing for me

If you have played the game, I am sure you are not surprised. As Jill, you only have 8 slots, and from what I’ve read online (without spoiling myself too much, eheh), Chris has 6. That means that there’s already a lot of thinking involved in the way you carry items around. However, it is made a lot more intense by the fact that you can’t drop any items off the inventory unless it is either used in the appropriate context, or put in a chest within any of the safe rooms. That means that whenever you do find something you want to pick up, there is always the question of “will I not be blocked with no space in the inventory when I will need it later on?”. In the end, quite likely (at least in my experience), you’ll end up learning that lesson through mistakes which will result in having to backtrack to a safe room… Acknowledging the fact that many times that road will be treacherous (and remember that after that you have to come BACK to the room you were in).

Once you do learn your lesson, this means that you start spending more time in planning your journey each time you leave a safe room. In the case of this game, a single item extra or missing in your inventory can make all the difference. And this time, not just in the perspective of the actual item, but also of the space it occupies.

Many games have used an inventory system in their own ways which worked pretty well most of the time for them. The first game I played where there was a “dynamic” inventory system probably had to be Minecraft, in which we had to manage it effectively so that we could sort everything out accordingly within our world AND inventory. While it was nowhere near as harsh as in Resident Evil, this does show the importance of inventory, and RE’s system exploits it in the best way it could, which is one of the core reasons it was so enjoyable to play, since it contributes in making this game an experience where you constantly are on your toes and active.

20170614140541_1.jpgWell in this case, I have NO SPACE left, at all! Not good!

2) Beyond inventory, the element of planning also goes into the map and the navigation, and this is engaging to play

Before writing this I never really had noticed how much planning goes on while playing the game, but there is much to do in that regard!

A bit earlier I talked of safe rooms. How little did I know how much time I would spend staring at my map and planning my route. This goes perfectly in conjunction with inventory planning, but not just that.

At first, that planning limits itself to “which route is the shortest one?”. Basic. It then extends to “which one is the safest?”, which can depend on the enemies you encounter on your way. After that, it can extend to “will I not be trapped in some way?”, which can be both in a lethal or simply path-blocking way (such as with that door in the East Wing on the Ground Floor of the mansion, with the knob which breaks after several openings, thus making this passage unusable after a while).

And beyond planning the route to where you want to go, there is… actually planning what you want do. The game never really explicitly tells you where to go except on some rare occasions, so many times it’s really up to you to decide what you have to do in order to advance. This can include anything really, whether it be testing out all doors to see if the keys work, clearing out the zombies (although THAT is dangerous) or hunters (oh my, those are a nightmare), re-stocking in resources, or “plainly” exploring for any puzzle related items.

20170619200137_1.jpgI did spend loads of time on that screen…

And beyond planning them, each of those actions are engaging to do, though dangerous to a certain degree most of the time, meaning you must be well equipped for each trip (AND BACK TO INVENTORY PLANNING IT IS).

That’s already a lot of thinking that has to be done with all of that. But there’s more.

3) The puzzles of the game also involve a lot of choices, which usually do lead to consequences, and that makes the game’s puzzles that much more impactful

To me, another reason why I love Resident Evil is for the puzzles that are scattered around, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering my love for the Legend of Zelda series. But there is a difference between Zelda puzzles and Resident Evil puzzles, which makes those of the latter that much memorable.

In a Zelda puzzle, you’d have a room, and you would have to find a switch in order to hit it/press it/whatever, which could either open up the door, or affect the room so that the puzzle continues. If you get the puzzle wrong, there isn’t much consequence, and you simply just re-start. In Resident Evil, you enter the room, and you have a switch in front of you, and surrounding the area is the puzzle. It then all comes down to “Will you press it or not?”. If you press it before getting the puzzle right, it will usually trigger a trap. And unlike Zelda where you tend to have much life and have the ability to be resurrected even if you do die, Resident Evil isn’t as forgiving with you. Considering the low amount of maximum HP you can have, it usually isn’t a good idea to fall into a trap, if you see what I mean.

20170623124526_1.jpgThis screen does tend to be rage inducing!

All of that signifies that each time you think you solved the puzzle, there is a little but heavy moment of suspense when you want to press that button. Because after all it could go either way!

4) Final point, and case closed: Resident Evil simply doesn’t treat you like an idiot, which is an excellent value for a game to have!

Now that is something I’ve already kind of tackled with my Great Plateau post, but I love it when a game doesn’t treat its players like little kids who need to be handheld in order to go on in the game (although that depends on the target audience – but I think we can agree Resident Evil isn’t for kids, eheh). I’m looking at you, Resident Evil 6 (and many other games, accessorily) which would point out obvious things as objectives, and literally show you the way to the next check point/objective when there is only but one way to go there! I mean, gee, there’s a swarm of zombies invading the building, how could I know that the objective would be “survive the zombies”? *Ahem* Well I think you got my point.

It’s hard to pin point what could be considered the tutorial of Resident Evil. Heck, could we even say that there isn’t any tutorial at all, other than facing the situations yourself and learning from experience (more on that on the Great Plateau post)? I would dare say that is the case.

Bad choices leading to your death? Well, the fault is on you for not solving that puzzle in the right way and not being observant enough. Dying in combat? Again, the fault is on you for not understanding the mechanics of combat, or even for judging that you were fit for that fight in the first place. Getting lost and not knowing where to go next? Well, it’s time for you to inspect your map and what items you possess, along with re-reading any documents which may hold importance, and act depending on what you know and possess instead of just wandering around.

When you do succeed in that puzzle. When you do finish off that zombie (or hunter – good luck with that). When you do finally find where you had to go after analysing the situation. That, my fellow people, gives a real sense of satisfaction that makes you feel like you actually accomplished something. This is because it was all up to you. You are the one who did everything. You are the one who traversed this nightmare. You are the one who escaped from that mansion.

20170623124616_1.jpgSCREW THOSE HUNTERS WHO KILLED ME AFTER A STRAIGHT 45 MINUTES OF PLAYING WITHOUT SAVING! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA- *ahem* I probably should have been more careful anyway.

This is why after playing as Jill Valentine, I want to re-play as Chris Redfield. I want to experience this game under the few new lights that it can bring, even if it stays the same game overall. Using the differences in their playthroughs, I want to find new ways to escape this damn mansion. As hard as it will get, I’m always ready for that challenge!

So, what do you think of Resident Evil? Do you prefer the classic games or do you prefer the modern ones? Regarding this game specifically, is there anything which makes you love it or hate it? Say your thoughts!



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