Resident Evil 3.5 In-Depth Analysis
Resident Evil 3.5 is a topic of much interest for many Resident Evil fans. We’re here to bring you the most in-depth look and analysis that’s ever existed on the subject, this took quite a few weeks to arrange and credit must be given out due to some very helpful resources. The first is The 5th Survivor from Project Umbrella for providing requested scans of the “Diary of a Madman” Cube magazine pages. The next would be to SurvivHor, which hosted some nice concept art and tidbits. Finally, The-Horror.com for an in-depth look into the Resident Evil 4 Trial Edition. All of these had very helpful and insightful articles, but here we want to go beyond what is known and really take a look at what Resident Evil 4 was once going to be to the franchise. Lost in time like the infamous Resident Evil 1.5, but arguably even more mysterious until now.
For those who do not know what I’m going on about with Resident Evil 3.5, Resident Evil 3.5 is the term used for the beta of Resident Evil 4. Why don’t we just call it Resident Evil 4 beta then? Because the game back then was completely different than the final product we received and was a whole other game in itself. The game was over halfway done when they scrapped everything they had, and it went through multiple stages in development. Resident Evil 4 has essentially 4 different versions it went through in development. The first version is nicknamed “Resident May Cry” since this beta of Resident Evil 4 turned into the first Devil May Cry game. There are some interesting Resident Evil assets you can get from Devil May Cry, as the game that originally was deemed as Resident Evil 4 was considered to be too different than the other titles and they made Devil May Cry into it’s own established franchise. The next version it went into is known as the Fog version, and after the fog version comes the Hookman version. At least, that’s how it’s been for a long time. People have separated the Fog and Hookman versions of Resident Evil 3.5 for ages believing them to be different versions of the game not realizing that all this time they were one the same. The reason they were believed different is since the original reveal trailer of the mentioned “Fog Version” looked quite different than the “Hookman Version” trailer we received, leading people to believe they were different, not realizing that the airship, Hookman, the Fog, possessed dolls, and a stormy night were all very much related. Even crazier is that there is evidence that will be provided in a bit that the unknown “Umbrella” version of Resident Evil 4 is also the same as the Fog and Hookman versions and was in fact not a separate build. All of these three “Versions” were all works on different aspects of the true Resident Evil 3.5. In early 2004 they confirmed that everything fans had seen to that point had been scrapped and they had started the game in a new direction. This would become known as the “Villager Version,” which is the beta of the final Resident Evil 4 we got. The final version of Resident Evil 4 is of course the version we all received and bought, good ole’ Resident Evil 4 which was critically acclaimed and gave juice back to the series, even if fan reaction was split.
What we’re focusing on is the actual Resident Evil 3.5, whatever you call it; “Fog Version”, “Hookman Version”, “Umbrella Version”. Everything provided in this is told with the most accuracy we can muster and looking at all the facts we can instead of assumption, but still that does not mean everything in this is 100% true. There are theories that some of the assets released are false and ultimately the only way we would ever know 100% of the truth is if the game was released, but with all of this said, lets get started on the deepest look into what Resident Evil 3.5 was.
This was the Resident Evil 4 original trailer, the first footage of the game we ever had and known as the “Fog Version” trailer. The first trailer shows some interesting things, but probably the most interesting is the similarities it has with Resident Evil 5. What, Resident Evil 5 you ask? No I’m not smoking anything. The talk of “The Cradle of the Progenitor Virus”, which if you were paying attention to Resident Evil 5, was tackled in 5, is also tackled in Resident Evil 3.5, the exact same question about the origins of the virus. According to Resident Evil 3.5 it’s in Europe where the “Mother Virus” originated, and according to the finalized Resident Evil 5 it’s in Africa and caused by pretty flowers. But hey, it’s only a Progenitor Virus origin story, surely there’s no other similarities? Actually there is one very big aesthetic similarity for what would appear to be Uroboros was also in Resident Evil 3.5.
However this is actually what is called the “Fog Virus”. Basically it’s supposed to be a fog monster, but there is no doubting it looks exactly like Uroboros. It may very well be some elements from Resident Evil 3.5 were taken for Resident Evil 5, just mixed around to fit Resident Evil 5 and it’s themes more. The trailer mostly shows scenes of Leon walking down corridors and facing this “Fog Virus”, though interestingly most of the areas can be reflected in the upcoming stage list.
This trailer shows Leon in a mansion area fighting a shady chained Hookman and scenes of dolls, walking figures, and screeching moose heads. A few things the regular viewer may miss is mannequins, not dolls, posed at weird angles. There some interesting art rooms and one such art room holds statues and furniture like sofas and a staircase around it. We also see a figure walking by a window, which due to it’s rotting nature is a zombie but more interestingly it manifests out of thin air implying the zombie is a figment of Leon’s imagination. A personal recommendation is to come back and watch this trailer freeze framing after reading more of this article, this trailer actually relates a lot to the assets you’ll find below.
Next up is observing the coding and things hidden into Resident Evil 4 Trial Edition, a limited edition disk that some received around Resident Evil 4’s release which had a trial version of the game.On the disk the debug menu was accessible holding some of the most interesting things for 3.5, including some data left over from Resident Evil 3.5. The first element seen is a “Slow-Down” technique which turns the screen to a blurry blue tint and slows down everything but Leon, which is leftover from some earlier build of the game. A video of this technique being used can be found below:
The blue tint is not only similar to the tint which happens in Resident Evil 3.5 but the data is leftover on the disk from an earlier version. You can even access the slowdown without the blue tint with Action Replay in the Gamecube version of the regular game but the blue tint only really appears in the Trial Edition. More interestingly though is that the Debug has a list of selectable stages split into four sections, the 3 main areas in the game are selectable (Village, Castle, Island) but there also is a selectable area which is leftover data from 3.5. Below is the list of “Loadable Stages” you can find for 3.5 in Resident Evil 4 Trial Edition Debug menu, though all the assets have been removed from the disk so you cannot access them unfortunately. This list was discovered by The-Horror.com but I took the time with some helpful bilingual friends to translate it to since the language of the rooms is not English native and to see what results we got compared to The-Horror, since translation is often art along with science.
Unused (not actually used in the game, for testing purposes)
02 – ATARI TEST ROOM
02 – HIT TEST ROOM
03 – ANIMATION TEST ROOM
04 – GUN TEST ROOM
05 – BLOCK TEST
06 – *BLANK*
07 – AI TEST
08 – MORI-test
08 – FOREST-test
0a – *BLANK*
15 – EFFECT TEST
16 – *BLANK*
44 – SOUND TEST
00 – AIRSHIP FLASHBACK (translation note: it may not be an actual flashback but the words are in past tense which is strange, plus the airship appears at intervals between big area changes suggesting Leon would either experience in flashback or hallucination form an airship between areas. It’s importance to the story is unknown though you can see the Airship in the Fog Trailer)
0b – CHAPEL
0c – WATERWHEEL
0d – UNDERGROUND PASSAGE
Before we continue with the stage list I want to note how similar this is to a scene in Resident Evil 4. In the game at the beginning of the second chapter when you first meet the Las Plagas, you make your way through some brief mountain sides to a water wheel area then make your way into a cave to get the key to the church. This sounds similar to that except you’re going to the church and not from it. The Church may also be related to an earlier piece of concept art for a Church area. The piece looks similar to the Church we visit in the final game but the time is at sunset, the graveyard is much bigger with no sign of being on the edge of a cliff, and the area is obscured by fog.
Back to the stage list.
0e – MOUNTAIN SIDE
0f – COURT YARD
01 – CASTLE DRAPE HALL
04 – OUTSIDE CASTLE ROOM
07 – STORM
09 – SPIRAL STAIRCASE
10 – DINING ROOM
11 – WINE CELLAR
12 – TOILET
13 – FOOD CELLAR
14 – KITCHEN
14 – STORAGE ROOM
17 – DINING HALL
18 – DOLL ROOM
19 – BATHROOM
1a – TAXIDERMY CORRIDOR
1b – GENERATOR ROOM
1c – EXPERIMENT LAB
1d – CONTROL AREA
1e – INSIDE MOUNTAIN
1f – MOUNTAIN FOREST
This whole section sounds like the area we saw in the trailers and gameplay. The gameplay sounds like it goes through the Taxidermt Corridor, the Doll Room, and Dining Hall briefly. It may not be related but it fits the description with one of the most famous assets from 3.5. the Hookman Gameplay Video:
This was released on a special DVD in Japan for Resident Evil 4. It looks like this area might of been less linear than the Resident Evil 4 that we came to know, involving collecting keys and opening doors to progress further in the style of older Resident Evils, and as you will see below in some scans, it also featured more puzzles and things such as getting combinations and collecting MO Disks. Als othe Spiral Staircase is where we see in the “Fog Version Trailer” and it appears to be where Leon originally gets infected. A final note is this estate might be related to an early piece of concept art for Resident Evil 4 which featured the castle but in a much different setting than the final; Instead of being surrounded by a moat and much more leveled it appears to be much more ancient on a mountainside and with a surrounding forest in this piece of concept art.
Back to the stage list.
20 – AIRSHIP FLASHBACK II (reminder, flashback is an artsy translation, it could possibly be a hallucination as we also discussed)
21 – AIRSHIP CORRIDOR
22 – AIRSHIP STUDY
23 – FOREST DAY (it appears after the airship scene Leon wakes up in the forest again and the forest transitions to night from day)
24 – FOREST NIGHT
25 – CASTLE ROOM
27 – ABANDONED TOWN
28 – CASTLE RUINS
29 – BASE 1
30 – BASE 2
2b – TOWN
2c – STUDY 1F
2d – STUDY 2F
2e- STUDY 3F
2f – OPENING ROOM
30 – HALL 3F
31 – MAIN HALL
32 – ARMOR PASSAGE
33 – ELEVATOR
34 – MINAMI GALLERY
34 – SOUTH GALLERY
35 – KITA GALLERY
35 – NORTH GALLERY
36 – GLASS PASSAGE
37 – PREPARATION ROOM
38 – DOLL ROOM 1
39 – THE PAST PASSAGE
3a – DOLL ROOM 2
3b – FRONT OF STAIRS
3c – WATER SUPPLY
3d – RECEPTION DESK & GARDEN
3e – LV2 ROOM
3f – KITCHEN
40 – PORTRAIT ROOM
41 – AIRSHIP RIGHT WING
42 – AIRSHIP LEFT WING
The above is likely still all settled around the large estate, there seems to also be ruins and a base settled around the location. The Portrait Room holds some interest since in the Hookman Gameplay we can see Hookman come out of a portrait, and it also appears there is a museum like art gallery area which is where the artsy areas you can see briefly in the Hookman Trailer come in. Was that the end of the game? Don’t think so since the game wasn’t completed but only reached past halfway before they threw in the towel, and this seems to center around the estate.
We’ve been talking for a long time but we haven’t even scratched the story of this game! What exactly is the story of Resident Evil 3.5? Well the first real look we have at the story comes from “Diary of a Madman”, which though some disbelieve is true when it came out actually was right on the money for some of the later revealed stuff, and one of the biggest early leads we have, so we’re going to assume it was an article based on true facts but the facts presented from a Diary-like perspective. This is from Cube magazine which also was a reliable magazine for some of it’s exclusives back in the day, making it more likely that it is true. Below are the scans provided by The 5th Survivor from Project Umbrella for my studies, I thank him immensely for it, and will have a transcription of the main points below the scans. He also provided humongous versions on request but there is no way they would be able to fit on your browser. However you can download the images with a link provided by The 5th Survivor below the scans at full-res.
Link from The 5th Survivor to download it HERE
Pinpoints for the story:
-It stars Leon after the events in Code Veronica.
-Leon was off to rescue Sherry Birkin.
-Chris and Claire played some role in the story.
-Leon tracks down an Umbrella facility that is the cradle of the “Mother Virus” (suggested above the Progenitor Virus) in Europe.
-Zombies are in the estate but are not the problem, some kind of zombie killer in the mansion.
-Various settings described and a few puzzle clues.
-Hookman apparently would mutate further and further upon meetings into a more foggy monster. Speculative but could the Hookman revert to the Uroboros-like Fog Monster?
-Leon would become very-very scared.
Other details of the plot we know is that Leon would start having difficulty telling reality and hallucination apart as things would get darker and more twisted as the infection in Leon grew. He’d begin to question his own insanity and whenever what he was seeing was as dark and supernatural seeming as he saw it or if this was all hallucinations plaguing his mind. There was word of a Umbrella agent and a partner system but this stuff is confirmed from a false source and can be discarded as false information, unreliable source with fake information.
However, back to Hookman, it seems Resident Evil 4 may have been Alan Wake before Alan Wake existed. In the Hookman gameplay you can see the Hookman teleporting around with supernatural-like powers… That is, until Leon uses his flashlight to discard the Darkness.
The Hookman first appears almost like a shadow, it is able to quickly break the space between it and Leon by disappearing and reappearing in front of him quickly. Bullets seemed to do no harm to it, that is until Leon points his flashlight at it for a while…
Poof! The shadow goes away and now he’s just a tough guy zombie with a hook, doesn’t appear to be able to “teleport” anymore and is able to be killed. The Hookman has a dark “fog” over him which is combated with light which strikes down some of his abilities when it is unraveled, strikingly similar to the Alan Wake mechanic which came out 5-6 years later.
However, we’re not done with all of the assets yet. Back to Resident Evil 4 Trial Edition, a man named Enrico Marini hacked the files and stumbled upon 2 interesting models hidden away in Resident Evil 4 Trials edition. He found a beta model for Ashley where she looks like a Pilot (which would fit for the Airship occurrences) and a beta model of Ada which is just Jill in a red dress (all the Resident Evil females are based off of Jill’s REmake model, even Sheva and Excella used the Jill REmake model as a base, so the Jill was probably a placeholder). It also seems HUNK’s random inclusion in Mercenaries is not as random as you might think; HUNK has some reminiscence on the Trial disk too which suggests he played some role in 3.5. You can view the two models below:
There were also a few other tidbits released in two other magazine scans based on Resident Evil 3.5, though they were released in other languages so had to get them translated, and while not much new, there was a few bits that were interesting.
It goes more into the stuff heard in the earlier diary about Sherry Birkin and the hallucinations, Leon infiltrating a mansion of Umbrella’s and getting infected, falling deeper into madness from an infection from the Progenitor Virus, and this place holds a “Mother Virus” which is emitting strange things from it and Umbrella’s seemingly abandoned research. They also talk about an art gallery and theater (points to stage list) and Tyrants being driven mad and eating each other. Also the Hookman seems to be related to a caretaker of the castle who was imprisoned, and whatever he touched would be infected with the Progenitor virus and would make it come alive, which is the reasoning why everything is coming alive in the gameplay. Apparently what the Hookman touched, being infected itself, brought things like curtains choking him, moose heads howling, moving suits of armor, and possessed dolls to life. However is this all in Leon’s mind or actually happening…?
And from SurvivHor, they have some art which shows some lost monsters that seem to be included in an earlier phase of Resident Evil 3.5.
An abandoned concept that appears almost vampire-like in appearance. It could be concept art for the Plagas but it is vastly different and the style of the things coming out of his mouth seems like the Fog Virus things, which could be related to some of Umbrella’s test with the Progenitor Virus? That is speculation.
A lost and twisted Resident Evil 4 monster, it looks quite twisted and strange. What role it would of played is uncertain.
And to finish things off, Resident Evil 4 was originally supposed to be the final chapter in the Resident Evil series directed by Hiroshi Shibata. Resident Evil was dying in popularity and they would either need to push the series back into popularity or Capcom was going to pull the plug on the franchise after this title. This left the developers with a choice of either coming up with a conclusion for the franchise or redefining it. 3.5 was apparently originally going to be the end of the franchise under Hiroshi Shibata direction, but Shinji Mikami (the “father” of Resident Evil) ultimately decided to take the lead go down the route of reinventing the franchise which ended up with the Resident Evil 4 we know that succeeded. Mikami also talks in Gamepro Issue 05/10 on Page 28 in a Vanquish interview he was under extreme pressure from Capcom with Resident Evil 4 which went with the fact they would either have to choose for a “Conclusion” or “Revival” chapter for Resident Evil with 4. They went the route of revival and it was the success they needed for the franchise to continue, even if some of the choices Capcom made resulted in Shinji Mikami leaving.
Some final food for thought is that besides some of the assets like the suits in armor being carried over to Resident Evil 4 final, some of the other assets went into the PS2 game, “Haunting Grounds”. They didn’t scrap everything they spent some time on after all.