Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster Review

Resident Evil Zero is a classic resident evil experience, and in spite of mixed reception in some cases, it has sold well over it's lifetime.  As a survivor horror fan, I'd recommend the HD Remaster to anyone looking for a fun experience.  My review isn't going to give numeric scores.  Games are subjective.  Instead, I'm going to discuss highlights from the game that stuck out to me as I played it.  Hopefully this style of review will encourage emphasizing the positive in games so there's always something to appreciate, even in games one might otherwise despise.  Without further ado, here's Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster.

Resident Evil Zero takes place just before the events of the original Resident Evil.  You play as two characters, STARS Member Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen, a death row inmate who's escaped custody after the MP's transporting him wrecked and were unfortunately eaten by zombies.  The chemistry between the two is friendly, but only as deep as the dialogue.  You're tasked with trying to find out where the monsters that flood the forest are coming from.  You start in a train and from there move to Resident Evil One Esq mansions and laboratory facilities.  The periods of time spent outdoors are minimal, but the environments are exactly what you'd expect from a traditional Resident Evil experience.  There's zombies, hunters, fixed camera angles and tank controls, and voice acting that obviously didn't translate over well from the original Japanese.  The main villain is this strange, androgynous leech singer who seems to come out of, and disappears back to, nowhere.  There are also cameos from Albert Wesker and Dr. William Birkin, though they are never confronted by the protagonists in game.  Overall, the story seems like an unnecessary contribution to the batshit RE timeline, but if you want more old school Resident Evil, that's alright.

As previously stated, the fixed camera angles from the first game are back and so are the tank controls.  This can feel a little strange to anyone who isn't used to them, but once you get the hang of it they're very useful.  You can't move while aiming, but you can angle your weapon up or down.  A nifty trick that makes zombies less frightening is to aim straight up with the shotgun and pull the trigger just as they're about to grab you.  Heads explode like kool-aid stuffed melons and it's immensely satisfying.  There's puzzle solving, mostly solved by contextual clues, and use of the two partner mechanic.  Unlike in Resident Evil 1, Resident Evil Zero has you playing as both Billy and Rebecca at the same time.  You can switch primary control to either character depending on what the situation calls for.  Commands are very basic shoot/don't shoot when encountering bad guys, and follow/stop following the player character.  The biggest barrier to entry in this game is the unique control scheme, but once you get the hang of it it's very practical.  Items are now dropped on the ground instead of deposited into bottomless chests, and healing items seem to be more common.

The enemy AI is easy enough to outmaneuver or outplay.  For faster enemies, hit them as soon as they're about to connect a blow, and for slower enemies you can run around in circles around them, carefully picking your shot or just running past.  Your AI partner can be dumb as a box of rocks sometimes, refusing to fire at zombies or kill the giant mutant from which is swallowing you whole.  If nothing else, it's a small comfort to have two characters on screen working together in such an oppressive spooky setting.  Overall, the AI is fine though some tweaks to your partner's response time might have helped make the game work a little better.  

My first playthrough of this game was on easy mode, and it really does make the game easy.  Zombies takes 2-3 pistol shots, and there are med kits and ammunition aplenty.  This is toned down on the higher difficulties, where you might prefer to haul ass instead of fighting a room full of the undead.  The only downside to this is that sometimes the game basically forces you to fight, making you use up what precious resources you have.  To be fair, that is part of survival horror design for better or worse.  You avoid the monster for a while but eventually there's the dreaded forced confrontation.

The sound effects are impactful and satisfying and the presentation graphically is good.  They've made a gamecube era game playable on current consoles, and they really did a good job on updating the graphics to at least be satisfactory.  At times, the fixed camera angles help you to really appreciate the static backgrounds and placement of items and clues.  

There is no multiplayer, though the concept would be fun to explore in a traditional RE setting.  There were two games that attempted this, Resident Evil Outbreak and Resident Evil Outbreak File 2, but it's unlikely either game will be ported to the current generation of consoles. New Game plus mode and the newly added Wesker mode add some degree of replayability.  

Overall, I'd recommend Resident Evil Zero mostly to fans of the survival horror genre.  The game makes you manage your inventory to keep only what you have to, the puzzles require some degree of thought, and the times you do have to fire your weapon are satisfying.  If you want a survival horror game that involves more than just hiding in closets, give this one a go.