Tricky. That is the most appropriate way to describe the first game in the widely successful Resident Evil series. Though there are some good parts there are too many bad things thrown into the mix. The puzzles for one thing are awfully confusing for the player every now and then. However, don’t let that hold you back.
After the deaths of a number of people Raccoon City’s special S.T.A.R.S members are sent to investigate. Losing contact with Bravo Team, the Alpha Team goes in search of them in the surrounding forests. Unfortunately they soon come under attack by a pack of zombified dogs and are forced to seek shelter in a mansion where they thought it would be safe. They then discover that the mansion is filled with zombies and other nightmarish creatures all intent on killing them. The investigation there eventually leads up to a startling revelation and a grim, but ultimately satisfying ending which can be either good or bad.
The gameplay isn’t all that bad. While the character movement is a little sluggish it isn’t all that horrible and better than nothing. The puzzles are all rather obscure which leads to some frustrating times when it becomes properly baffling for those who are inexperienced at puzzle solving. This really slows down things and weakens the sense of pace. The controls in general are alright and though it becomes tedious having to see a door open every time you enter a room it’s better than a simple black loading screen which can be found in even some of the most recent games. The saving system is lousy because you need ink ribbons for typewriters in order to save. Also, the fixed camera angles. I hate fixed camera angles.
The voice acting isn’t especially nice and you can tell that the dialogue was very roughly translated from Japanese. Some especially hilarious dialogue comes from Barry Burton who blessed the series with the lines “The Master of Unlocking” and “You would have been a Jill sandwich.” Jill Valentine’s voice actress doesn’t fair any better than Burton’s actor. The villain Albert Wesker was fairly well voiced, but still not fantastic. At the beginning of the game there is some narration by Chris Redfield who is the other playable character next to Jill. It has to be said that this narration alone is a lot better than some of the other lines of dialogue that appear in the game. It’s not the actors fault if the translation was a little off, but the cheesy delivery is entirely their fault.
Love it or hate it Resident Evil is a decent game and despite the hilariously bad voice acting, awful tank controls, obscure puzzles and great amounts of backtracking it deserves respect for naming and defining the survival horror genre. While the recent games are better on a technical level they lack the grim charm of the original game.