The original Resident Evil game, released for the PlayStation back in 1996, is really something special. Not only was it the first installment of a horror game franchise that continues to flourish, but it also presents a variety of unforgettable one-liners. “You were almost a Jill Sandwich!” echoes through conversations of Resident Evil fans to this day. The ridiculous dialogue isn’t the only thing that made Resident Evil such a smash hit, though. It was eventually dubbed as the first “survival horror” game of its time. Venturing amongst a giant mansion with the sauntering undead lurking around corners is one thing, but when ammo is scarce, prospering becomes a little less achievable. It’s the challenge that keeps you on your toes and outlines Resident Evil as an unforgettable experience.
The events of Resident Evil take place in the year 1998. The black and white cinematic introduction clip shows the Alpha Team (including playable characters Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield) searching an open area for survivors of Bravo Team’s crashed helicopter. In a nutshell, murderous canines take down a member of their team so of course, the remaining survivors begin fleeing aimlessly. Well, except Brad, the coward who takes off in the helicopter and leaves his team to meet their demise. See you later, guys! Have fun!
Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate the incredible acting that transpires in that scene? And by incredible I mean absolutely awful. There is also no way I could just ignore the cast introductions either. The badassery just emanates from each character as the narrator dramatically declares their names. It was like watching one of those low budgeted Netflix movies but with an added flair of dog attacks.
The gameplay following suit is where the magic really begins. Before the opening scene, the option to choose between Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine is presented. In this specific playthrough, I took the reigns as Jill, for her interactions with Barry Burton are one of a kind. Nonetheless, journeying through the Spencer mansion as Jill is probably the easiest route to take in Resident Evil if there were one. She has more inventory space, can avoid confronting the murderous plant, and has the luxury of Barry Burton to save the day at the most opportune times.
When Resident Evil was first released, it was one of the most praised video games of its time. It visited the theme of survival horror and prospered. Resident Evil taught players that not every groaning zombie needs to be taken down. Of course, I had forgotten this and learned the hard way. Being more accustomed to the newer installments of the franchise, I figured I would stumble upon plenty of ammunition and health items. I was way off. Killing off a zombie is all fun and games until you find yourself knifing at them because you ran out of handgun ammo. Oh, what’s that? “You died”? Let’s give this another go.
Oh, and not to mention the arbitrary fact that ink ribbons aren’t showered upon Jill or Chris either. Tactical progress saving comes in handy and ink ribbons should be used wisely. This way when the homicidal Hunter decides to decapitate you, you won’t have to revert back to simpler times when zombies were the only threat to mankind.
Now that I mention it, maybe decapitation doesn’t sound so bad after all.
As Jill journeys through the maze of a mansion, she is confronted with various puzzles. Some are a no-brainer while others result in miserable migraines. For example, in the mansion there are four different keys to acquire in order to unlock new areas. In the beginning, Jill will encounter many locked doors requiring one of the four keys, and with the right key accompanied by patience, these rooms will be available to rummage through.
Attention to detail is a significant quality to endure — otherwise missing important clues is insanely easy to do. Not to mention, traveling from one side of the mansion to the other in order to complete a puzzle is a bit of a challenge if you aren’t yet familiarized with the mansion’s layout. With some repetition and wrong turns though, Jill’s excursion eventually progresses and the surroundings become less confusing.
So maybe back in the mid 1990’s no one really cared if the voice acting portrayed in a video game was, well, horrible. Hell, it was probably the norm. Reverting back to such shenanigans in present time is a treat, to say the least. Considering survival is kind of a challenge, the comical commentary lightens the mood. When Jill annihilates a giant venomous snake, Barry enters the room and walks right into its disintegrating body. He inquires, “Have you found anything interesting?” Oh, Barry. You are so clueless.
The amount of secondhand embarrassment that derives from the ever-so-perfect conversations in Resident Evil is overwhelming, but the jump-scare moments are pretty great, too. There are many areas in Resident Evil that are unnerving due to the lack of background music. All that can be heard is the clatter of Jill’s footsteps. Oh, and the loud crash of the windows breaking as vicious canines pummel their way into the mansion. Heart attack much?
As missing pieces to the story are unveiled, a traitor becomes visible to the survivors of the Alpha Team. Now those of you who are huge Resident Evil nerds like me know who I’m referring to, but I won’t spoil any core plot details. Eventually, it is learned that Umbrella is behind the attacks and the infamous T-Virus that is causing all these crazy mutations. Crazy, I know. If Jill succeeds and blows the Tyrant to smithereens without being mutilated by its giant claw first, Brad the cowardly pilot returns to retrieve the remaining Alpha survivors. Aw, how nice of him.
Cue very cheesy credits and music.
Resident Evil is a one-of-a-kind game that should definitely be played by anyone who enjoys a good laugh or challenge. Because of its success, it was granted a remake in 2002 encompassing enhanced visuals, a different cast of voice actors (thank goodness), and array of other additional features. Nonetheless, it all started in 1996 with Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine and will forever be a classic in my heart.