Resident Evil 0 HD is a return to the franchise’s classic survival horror formula that Capcom was known for back in the day. The Resident Evil series has undergone many changes since its first game released on the original PlayStation back in 1996. Later titles leaned towards focusing on fast paced action and flashy moves, rather than the slow tension building pace of the first few games. The rerelease of Resident Evil 0 on modern day consoles gives fans updated visuals and a reworked control scheme, as well as a new mode that puts an interesting spin on things.
For those that never played Resident Evil 0 when it was first released on Nintendo GameCube, the story takes place before the events of the first Resident Evil game. You take control of Rebecca Chambers and Billy Cohen as they work together to survive the plague that is growing on the outskirts of Raccoon City. The two of them must solve the game’s various puzzles and fight monsters in order to survive the horrific events in this series prequel. Those who have played other Resident Evil titles will notice the various references and nods to other entries of the franchise.
The plot is a bit shallow and predictable at times, but a lot of the focus here is making you feel helpless against the monsters that lurk in the dark. This isn’t like Resident Evil 5 or 6 where you can power through waves of zombies with plenty of ammo. Resources can be scarce and even the most basic of zombies can quickly kill you, so you need to be careful.
The HD overhaul does bring out better detail and color, yet some parts of the game aren’t so lucky. During gameplay, I noticed all of the smoothed out textures and character models, which looked pretty good. Yet the cutscenes between gameplay sections looked as if they were copied straight from the GameCube. You can notice a bit of pixalation during cutscenes, especially in parts with a lot of heavy effects on screen.
The music and sound effects however are much better in this version of the game, making every creature you encounter look and sound even more intimidating than before. The sound design adds plenty of anxiety rich atmosphere in some sections of the game, but not in every section. My heart may have skipped a beat while playing when I heard a giant insect lurking around off-screen.
Other reworked parts of the game include the control scheme, which were changed a bit to feel more like modern day games. Despite the reworked controls you still have the option to use the classic control scheme from the original game. The control layout makes moving Billy and Rebecca easier than before, but the real issues still come from the game’s static camera.
The tension I felt came from running into the monsters, but this was quickly loss because of the frequent issues I had with the camera. While some may argue that this style of in-game camera work helps add to the tension, it actually added a lot of frustration to my experience. The many times I was killed was from monsters I couldn’t see entering rooms or from not being able to aim my weapon because of a really bad camera angle. It happens all too frequent and can be a bit unfair at times, making this feel less like an artistic choice and more like real nuisance.
When you complete the game the first time, you gain access to a new mode called Wesker Mode. This allows you to play through the game again as Albert Wesker and use his dark powers that fans will recognize from Resident Evil 5. In this mode, Wesker takes the place of Billy and changes Rebecca’s look to be more sinister than before. This is a neat unlockable that fans will appreciate, but it only does so much for the entire game. You can kill monsters and bosses easier with Wesker’s powers, but you still need to go through the tedious puzzles that you encountered in your first playthrough.
Resident Evil 0 HD does its best to bring classic survivor horror to the modern day, but only does so much to make it better. The updated controls and HD visual overhaul are great additions that help breathe new life into this old-school Resident Evil game. But these changes can’t fix the same problems that continue to linger with the game’s static camera. The game’s cutscenes don’t have the same HD quality compared to what you may see in-game, which is a bit disappointing. Those that are curious about how Resident Evil has evolved as a series since the beginning may get some enjoyment out of Resident Evil 0 HD, meanwhile long-time fans won’t have much to get excited about here.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Resident Evil 0 HD for the PlayStation 4 provided by Capcom.