reHorror: A 20-year friendship with Resident Evil
20 years ago, I became friends with Resident Evil.
While many gamers were raised with Mario and his friends in the Mushroom Kingdom, I was raised in Raccoon City, and my playground was a mansion in the Arklay Mountains. My playmates were always rotting, but I still loved them.
I first met Resident Evil with the release of Resident Evil 2. It was only after going through Leon and Claire’s scenarios a multitude of times that I finally backtracked all the way to the original game that started it all. As a bowl-haired 10-year old, I was ready to finally experience the horrors briefly glimpsed in Resident Evil 2’s intro (that zombie really scared me!).
Right away, I was introduced to my very first video game crush. I picked Jill Valentine as my starting character–it was love at first sight (she had amazing polygons). After a lovably cheesy intro, I was quickly immersed in the game’s atmosphere. I loved how I felt trapped in a giant puzzle box disguised as a fancy house, filled with walking and crawling zombies, among other bio-organic creatures of the night.
Zombies were as common in my life as Sesame Street characters and Teletubbies were–maybe not as scary as the latter–and that’s all because of Resident Evil. I love how my parents were totally cool with letting me spend a lot of time in this world of survival horror with my M-rated friend. It was this early attachment that led to us becoming close throughout my life, to this very day.
Like any good friend, Resident Evil has been there for me throughout it all, from the happiest moments of my life to the most heartbreaking ones. Resident Evil was the one friend I could always turn to. Resident Evil 5 actually saved me during a time when I was going through my own world of survival horror in my own head, caused by an outbreak of depression. The release of the game’s Lost in Nightmares DLC ended up becoming the cure. So, despite all the hate Resident Evil 5 gets hit with, it really means a lot to me. Speaking of which…
As we all know, change is inevitable. Friends change. Regardless of its drastic evolution, I stuck with Resident Evil throughout it all, just how it had stuck with me after so many years. I learned to accept it for what it was instead of being quick to judge it harshly.
Resident Evil grew up and really got into action movies. It didn’t want to fully let go of its horror roots, though, so it ultimately went down a bio-organic monster-filled path that granted players the ability to simultaneously move and shoot whatever threats came their way–with a lot more ammo and supplies. Said threats weren’t the zombies of old. No. They were smarter than my old rotting playmates, but not always necessarily better.
And now here I am, 20 years after I first laid eyes on Resident Evil’s fixed camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds. The series has matured, marrying its old-school horror elements with its modern style, and continues to look to the past with remastered editions and the upcoming Resident Evil 2 remake.
Even if we spend periods of time without each other, Resident Evil is the one friend that will always be there for me. And whenever we finally spend time together again, it’s like we never left each other. Here’s to a friendship that will last 20 more years!