In an era defined by the demand for remasters, remakes and updates of successful works – it’d be easy to insist you just leave this one to the gamefreaks and play the impeccable REmake instead.
But you’d really miss out. This game has an utterly unique look and feel – rooms are lit strangely and painted in sickly yellows, browns and greens, as if the house itself has gone rotten. Neither the scale factor nor the complexity of the rooms seem truly consistent – completely bare, abstract, windowless corridors often sprawl next door to intricately-detailed bedrooms and kitchens. The rooms in REmake look like, well, rooms. Incredibly lit, atmospheric rooms that you could probably happily live in (current crisis aside). The rooms in Resident Evil look like the type of rooms you walk through in a dream.
The zombies shuffle and pivot jerkily, always at odds with their surroundings, always making funny inchoate noises with either an insane cavernous reverb or none at all. They are comical, yes, but that doesn’t stop a lucky pair from stun-locking you to an instant death if you underestimate them. The music, too, slips between mocking you and terrifying you – the fact that something’s a bit camp wouldn’t stop it from eating you alive.
This dreamy, uneasy and rotten look hits hard even in the infamous turning-around-zombie scene. When he turns, the zombie doesn’t quite look monstrous or human – something inbetween, a calm stare in a lumpy potato head. The half-chewed head that falls to the floor is so clean, as if willing flesh was simply sucked loose with no resistance. Again, the scale factor is totally insane – the entire surroundings of the tea room are completely dwarfed, like a full-grown man intruding in a child’s playhouse.
RE2 and RE3 outgrew this look immediately and proceeded to be incredibly polished and fun survival horror, but this game… REmake is amazing, but it’s not haunted like this game is.