Resident Evil turns 25!

Resident Evil turns 25!

Survival horror is a term that today we consider established, easy to explain and more intuitive than many others that haunt our pages. In 1996 this was not the case: the genre was fresh and subjected to careful and constant scrutiny, something that in recent years have experienced for example the souls-like and the battle royale.

Precisely because of the rapidity with which it spread, overcoming a first moment of amazement and chaos, we then had a clearer idea of ​​what was happening to the videogame market. In short, we understood what the key characteristics of the genre were and how to distinguish Splatterhouse (a beat'em'up horror) from Clock Tower.

In summary, if Alone in the Dark was the singularity ready to explode , Resident Evil was the ensuing Big Bang, which enshrined the genre. From this critical and public success, not only the sequels to the franchise were born, at frightening speed, but all the other solar systems of the horror universe: Project Zero, Dino Crisis, Koudelka, of course Silent Hill and, due to the domino effect, Deadly Premonition, Shadow Hearts, Forbidden Siren and we shouldn't stop there anymore. To follow the influences of the saga with a divining rod, we should even consider the importance of Resident Evil 4 and its shoulder camera for Gears of War and Dead Space.

Villa Spencer, 1996. To really celebrate the 'work by Shinji Mikami and Tokuro Fujiwara, beyond the lavish praise and nostalgia that can be misleading, it is appropriate to remember the "residence" that terrified us the players and kept them on their toes when we could still count the polygons on the fingers of the hands. From the gray PlayStation to the PC, passing through the Game Cube, Villa Spencer is one of the most loved by fans, certainly more memorable than the Sweet Home (1989 horror Jrpg) that inspired it and capable of rivaling Lara's manor. Croft.

The walls designed by architect Trevor, full of secrets and puzzles, tell the story of agents fighting zombies and other biological laboratory weapons. It begins with a sequence, played by real actors, in which S.T.A.R.S. they arrive at the first of the many doors that made Resident Evil creepy. Each door is indeed a loading (today it is transparent) but also the suspenseful instant that precedes the discovery of a new threat.

Over the years from a villa in the woods of the Arklay mountains, in that of Racoon City, we have come to a vampire-controlled village. But it is no coincidence: the B-Movie soul of the series is already hidden inside the labyrinthine rooms of the Spencer Mansion, right next to the Yawn, a giant snake worthy of Harry Potter's Chamber of Secrets. After all, between a tribute to Carpenter and one to Romero, Mikami gives his characters weapons such as grenade launchers and shotguns.

Barry will be a playable character in Resident Evil Revelations 2. The mansion reveals itself in all its glory. of its pre-rendered backgrounds (to be honest they are much better in the 2002 remake, Rebirth). Here the close encounter with the first zombie (slow and gasping around a dining table with white placemats) marks the beginning of an exploration made of bloody encounters, pots of medicinal herbs and fragments to combine.

Bullets are never enough, for those who panic at least: immediately after the zombies, there are in fact the Cerberus, Dobermanns mutated by the T virus. Their approach with the player takes place in a traumatic way, with the breaking of glass and a worrying speed, often in areas of poor visibility such as the front balcony of the villa or the corridors of the east wing. From here on, a crescendo of difficulty and tension, with challenges that require different approaches and the constant count of ammunition.

Beyond backtracking to store objects in metal crates and save the game thanks to the machines from write, Resident Evil invests in variety. The two wings of the manor, the two floors and the mysterious garden hide underground quarries and an Umbrella laboratory. Different scenarios allow you to unleash different creatures against the player. Not just dogs and zombie humans, then, but mutations of all kinds: poisonous bees, crows, sentient plants, spiders and anthropomorphic reptiles. A crescendo of wild beasts (even a shark, the Neptune) that culminates with the comparison with the first Tyrant (T-002).

The Yawn is defeated by drawing heavy artillery. If we think of this empowered man, naked, with a claw-hand and disruptive force, and then we compare him with the thunderous footsteps of the Mr. X of RE: 2, with the mutations of the G virus and with the chimeric giants of flesh of all the other sequels, you almost smile ... Today. In 1996, when Resident Evil presented itself with its "Welcome to the survival horror!", It was the beginning of something new and shocking, something that, like Assassin's Creed in 2007, promised endless technical and playful branches. And so, after all, it was.

Villa Spencer is not only home to monsters, it is a succession of traps and enigmas presented with a certain aesthetic care. An example of this attention paid to the environments is the room with the mechanical ceiling, worthy of Indiana Jones, capable of crushing the unwary and too greedy player. But there are also bookcases ready to hide the enemy around the corner, statues and mirrors to reveal key objects, carpets in warm tones that instill a sense of false security. And then, of course, laboratories where everything went wrong, full of chemical concoctions ready to explode.

While maintaining the old-style commands, which today may or may not convince (as the reception of The Medium), the Rebirth remake has changed all the backgrounds and added some secondary areas, so as to propose a more detailed version of the same house. For example, the underground passage becomes more like a mine. The garden becomes more luxuriant and hides in the cemetery the cave of the Crimson Head, a prototype zombie with a scarified head and uncontrollable anger.

Cerberus, a bit like Resident Evil 2's Lickers, constantly keep the player on their toes. Villa Spencer, a bit like Norman Bartes' motel, lends itself to graphic additions without the risk of losing the horror charm that surrounds it. For example Resident Evil 0, also from 2002, shows other angles of the villa. Resident Evil 5's "Nightmare without exit" DLC, in re-proposing the European prototype of the building, uses completely 3D scenarios within a more action-packed gameplay. And of course, but let us mention in passing, there is also the film version by Paul W. S. Anderson.

Despite the differences between the various versions, what remains intact is the way in which spacious atriums and narrow corridors alternate, so that the player perceives the grandeur of the place, equal to the amount of dangers and secrets it hides. A visual narrative made, in a sense, of unspoken.

The future of the series, as the seventh chapter had shown, has an eye for these distant origins. With the seventh chapter we visited, once again, a single house full of branches, in a direct homage to what was the saga in the beginning. But whether they are zombies, vampires, poisonous snakes or giants with a thousand teeth, the important thing is not to get bitten and have a weapon to respond to the danger.

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The first encounter with a Tyrant is never forgotten. Today it is very easy to find the remake (on Steam or PlayStation Store), but more complex to go back to the original game, not completely compatible with the most modern systems and never adapted except in the Nintendo DS version. One solution is to resort to PlayStation Classic, where the Director's Cut is located. But there is an increasing need for collections and remaster editions that aim to preserve the original products, perhaps combining the old with the new.

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