This article was written on June 15, 2016
I beat Resident Evil Remaster for the 20th time, and I have some thoughts about it:
REmaster is one of the best games ever made. It is a masterpiece in the following levels: game design, game mechanics, level design, atmosphere, sound design, OST, horror element, storytelling, visual style. Gaming, as it is now, has forgotten some of the reasons why RE is so good. These mechanics need to come back in some form. I think that they still have a place in modern gaming. And I'm talking, mainly, about:
- Limited and consumable saves, which you can use ONLY at designated locations–This added so much to the horror element to the game, it can't be stressed enough. This, like many other mechanics in the game, linked the gameplay with the setting, in the way that not only do you feel scared of the spooky monsters and the mansion, but you also feel scared that you might lose a lot of progress if you screw up, which makes the feeling of fear much more REAL. It also adds an element of risk, in that if you screw up, you'll have to start from the last save, which could be a big chunk of lost time. Like in real life, if you do something in where you can't fail, it'll eventually feel boring and uninteresting, but if you engage in an activity where positive punishment is a possibility, well, you'll feel bad when you get punished, but when you become good enough that you learn not to get punished, you'll get a sweet rewarding feeling, and the activity will become more engaging and interesting as a result. The feeling of relief you get when you arrive at a save room after playing for half an hour without saving would not exist without this. There is no reward without risk. Dark Souls understood this very well, but most AAA games don't. They prioritize appeasing and stimulating the gamer at all moments (appealing to the R selected), rather than building an interesting framework of risk and reward, and PLAYER CHOICE, like the choice to defer gratification. "Should I save now, or should I carry this save ribbon and save at the next save room? I don't wanna use ribbons that I might need later". It creates a natural environment where the player needs to take very important decisions. Choice is what makes a game a game, after all. This also applies to some of the following points:
- Limited inventory space–This ties in to the choice thing I was talking about. It makes you take crucial decisions and it forces you to try to predict what you will need in the future. Do you need an extra space, or is that green herb worth taking? "Real Survival" mode takes this idea to the next level because you'll need to keep in mind WHERE you store your items, because they won't magically appear in every box you open later.
- Very limited ammunition–Same idea. "Oohhh, I really wanna blow this fucker's brains out, but I'm running out of ammo. Should I pop 'im, or should I try to pull an evasive move and then run past him?". In that case, for example, you'll have to decide between: Consume a bullet, or take the risk of getting close to the zombie and try to run past him without taking damage. Which one is more valuable: The bullet, or your safety? Player choice, risk evaluation, deferral of gratification, bla bla bla (By the way, I'm not an expert but this could teach kids how to make better real life decisions).
- Unique, easy to learn, hard to master controls– Many people don't like tank controls, but I think RE wouldn't be RE without them. I think that making the movement easier and more fluid would have made the game less scary (not to mention that the change in camera angles would be more of a nuisance if the game had camera-oriented controls. REmaster gives you the option to play the game that way, but I still haven't tried it out. It feels like cheating to me). Having to turn like a tank makes you more vulnerable to enemies, so you have to plan out your movement more carefully.
- Pre-rendered backgrounds (and fixed camera angles)– Over-the-shoulder and first person cameras are fine, but fixed angles still offer some advantages (and also disadvantages, but that's not what I'm focusing on), like: - It gives the designer more artistic choice because he can decide how to present each area, like a movie. - It adds to the horror theme as well. It can make some things scarier. It can emphasize some elements of the level that otherwise wouldn't stand out, and it adds to the element of suspense as well because you never know what the next camera angle will uncover... -It also takes camera control out of the player's hands, so the player doesn't have to worry about where to place the camera. As for the pre-rendered backgrounds: You're not limited by the hardware rendering backgrounds that way, so the game can look even better and more detailed.
Minimal amount of cutscenes and more figuring out the story by your own - Look at Dark Souls, and the myriad of videos on Youtube explaining its lore to understand why this is an important point.
Some other points I'm sure I forgot...
I wanna make it clear that I'm not saying that a game is worse for not having these elements, or anything like that. All I'm saying is that I feel like these elements have been forgotten for no good reason, and could be used in any modern game, not just horror.