Resident Evil is a horror game set in the Spencer Mansion, a huge, and suitably creepy abandoned home in set in the middle of an equally eerie forest. As one of the elite S.T.A.R.S team sent in to investigate a series of grizzly murders in the area, things soon go drastically wrong as you're attacked in the woods by a group of zombie dogs, and have to make your retreat to the mansion. With the team decimated, and the mansion the only "safe" harbour for miles, it's up to you to explore the house, and discover the many secrets it hides. Hint - there's zombies involved.
Originally released in 1996, this is an upgraded version of a very old game, and as such, some of the systems here may seem a bit clunky to new players. The camera, for example, is fixed - which was presumably a technological decision at the time, but also allowed the developers to control what you can or can't see. Wandering the narrow corridors, never sure of what may be lurking around the next corner, because you can't actually move the camera is suitably tense.
While it classes itself as a horror game, Resident Evil is actually pretty puzzley. When you first step foot in the mansion, most of the doors you come across are locked - and figuring out how to unlock them is a key part of the fun here. Everything you find in the mansion has a use, and picking them up, and examining them, should give you clues as to where you have to use it, and what they can unlock. As an example of how these things work - one room has a key in a stone, and a suit of armour with a shield covered in spikes. Go into the room and pick up the key, and the stone will sink, and the suit of armour with the spikes will trundle towards you. Obviously that isn't going to be good for your health. Luckily, in another part of the mansion, you'll find a pendant with a picture of a suit or armour on it. Examine the pendant, and you'll find a button, which will turn the pendant into an imitation key. And you can probably figure out where that has to go. The more puzzles you solve, the more of the mansion will open up to you, and the closer you'll get to solving its secrets.
In terms of accessibility, there's plenty of reading involved in Resident Evil, with notes and riddles left lying around the mansion for you to solve, and as such, that are essential to your progress. As a remake of an old game (this is functionally identical to the GameCube re-release of Resident Evil in 2002), newer players will probably want to go for the more modern control scheme rather than the slightly unusual tank controls the original game used. Aiming, however, is still tricky, thanks to the controlled view point - and the game's save system is unforgiving. If you want to save your game at one of the game's few save typewriters, you'll need to use an ink ribbon item - of which there are only a few in the mansion. Limiting not only where you save your game, but how frequently you can save, this may catch some players out. Still, for older players who like a bit of a challenge, this should give their brain a workout as much as their heart!
With plenty of zombies gunning for your blood, Resident Evil has its moments of violence and gore. While it tends to get its scares from tension rather than creeping you out with extreme violence, enemies still give off splats of blood when shot, and you have the ability to stamp on their head when they're on the floor, shattering their skull with a grizzly crash. While the game features no swearing or sexual content, the gore can be explicit at times.
Format Reviewed: PC