June 9, 2023

Selfishly, I’m somewhat sad that we might not get another remake in the style of the Resident Evil remake. I know that particular style of Resident Evil game has fallen out of favor over the years, but there is something special about those early games. They’re still some of the scariest Resident Evil games ever made, they emphasized survival in every element of their designs, and say what you will about those fixed camera angles, but they give those games an “every frame a painting” quality that remains visually appealing. Resident Evil Remake offered an optimized version of those classic experiences that Capcom has never really followed up on outside of Resident Evil 0

That’s the bigger point here. I’m blown away by the quality of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4’s remakes, but I’m not convinced that their style of game design is a one size fits all solution for this series (or even just future remakes). 

Just look at Resident Evil 3 Remake. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is generally considered to be worse than Resident Evil 2 and 4. That being the case, you’d think that Resident Evil 3 would be the best candidate for a remake among those games. It was certainly the game most in need of a second chance among the Resident Evil games that Capcom has remade so far.

Yet, Resident Evil 3 Remake is generally considered to be the worst of the recent RE remakes. That remake features many of the core elements that make the other recent remakes so great, but it fails to successfully reimagine some of the things that made Nemesis unique. The fights against the Nemesis itself are often treated like an expansion of RE 2 Remake’s Mr. X encounters, and some of the original game’s flawed, yet fascinating, ideas (like complex puzzles, branching paths, and entire areas that just needed a few tweaks) are cut from the remake so that the original game can better fit that new formula.

Resident Evil 2 Remake and Resident Evil 4 Remake are great remakes of great games. People are calling for Resident Evil 5 and 6 (maybe even Code Veronica) to soon receive similar treatments, but I’m not sure those projects are as obvious as some think they are. Those games have notable flaws, but, like Resident Evil 3, they also have unique identities that should be preserved. You can run them through this remake design machine and you’ll probably get technically better games out of the other end of the thing, but I’m not convinced they’ll be games that fully realize the true potential of those original experiences as they were conceived.

There are also those calling for the mainline modern Resident Evil games (meaning post-Resident Evil Village titles) to play more like these recent remakes, which may be an even more troubling idea. After all, Resident Evil is one of the only (certainly one of the last) true blockbuster horror franchises. Every new release shakes the industry, and Capcom has always been pretty good about keeping the series fresh through the occasional reinvention, reimagining, and, when necessary, reboot.

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