Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster freshens up with polished visuals and new additions, but it still clings to old survival horror mechanics that may alienate new players.
Years before Resident Evil 5 proclaimed that players didn’t have to face fear alone, another Resident Evil title let players switch between two characters and utilize teamwork to survive. Resident Evil 0, originally released in 2002, followed the story of STARS medic Rebecca Chambers and wanted felon Billy Coen, uncovering the events of the Resident Evil universe just prior to the STARS team entering the mansion in the original Resident Evil game.
Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster is a polished version of the series prequel, following the Resident Evil HD Remaster of 2015. The classic horror title harkens back to the old days of the Resident Evil series when the games were mysterious, creepy, and made players carefully conserve their resources. It bears almost no resemblance to the Resident Evil games of today, which should make it an interesting throwback for players who never tried out Resident Evil before it became the action-filled QTE-fest that it is today.
Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster explains the backstory behind Umbrella and how the T-Virus came to be unleashed in the area. Rebecca Chambers and her team go down in a helicopter crash, only for them to discover that Raccoon Forest is overrun with zombies and monsters. Rebecca soon encounters Billy Coen, an escaped prisoner who was on his way to his execution. In a desperate move, the two team up, as the creatures lurking ahead are too dangerous for them to take on individually.
Despite the game’s age, the character trade-off system is still unique and enjoyable. Once Billy joins Rebecca, players have the option to control either character, choosing to leave the second one behind or allow them to tag along. This creates an interesting level of strategy, because if one character is left alone for too long, they may come under attack, requiring the controlled character to race back and support them.
As a dual protagonist adventure, the game makes good use of this system, often forcing the characters apart and requiring the player to switch between the two in order to accomplish a shared goal. These events carry some anxiety that the secondary character will be attacked while they’re unreachable. It’s only made more tense with the knowledge that if either character dies, the game ends, and health items only cure a single character, even if Rebecca and Billy are traveling as a group.
Resident Evil 0 has received ports before, moving from its original Gamecube release to the Wii in 2009. However, this remastered version has been treated with a fine-toothed comb, polishing textures, improving text, and offering an improved control scheme for gamers who don’t want to revisit the tank controls of yore. The default keyboard and mouse controls felt logical and responsive, and players have the option to customize them as they see fit.
In addition, the title has received a few extra perks. DLC costumes for Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster include a cheeky ‘Jill Sandwich’ t-shirt for Rebecca, as well as a full cheerleader costume for Rebecca and commando gear for Billy. In addition, completing the game unlocks the ability to play through again in ‘Wesker Mode’. Wesker Mode lets players replay the game as an the over-powered Wesker from Resident Evil 5, along with Rebecca, who receives a variation of Jill’s battlesuit from the same game.
The game looks vastly sharper and more detailed than the original release, even on a wide resolution monitor, though there are certain static backgrounds that still look flat and unfocused. In addition, the original pre-rendered cutscenes appear to be unchanged, and they strongly clash with the appearance of the actual game. Dialogue syncing is poor, dark colors often appear blurry and pixelated, and the extra costumes obviously don’t appear in pre-rendered cutscenes. Thankfully, the fully pre-rendered cutscenes aren’t too frequent, so it doesn’t mar the experience too much.
Perhaps worst of all are the mandatory door-opening and stair-climbing cutscenes between rooms. While the opening of doors and climbing of stairs or ladders may have increased tension in the original Resident Evil games and provided a way to distract players from necessary loading time, it becomes a nuisance in the PC version. The vast majority of PCs won’t need the long break between small areas to load the next one, but the cutscenes can’t be skipped or sped up.
The cutscenes become especially frustrating if players need to backtrack, which is a necessity in this game. Players often have to go back to areas they’ve already explored to retrieve dropped items or enter previously-locked rooms. Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster lacks a modern save or checkpoint system as well, instead using the classic stationary typewriter for players to save their games. This not only means that players have to trudge back through the area to a typewriter, but they have to have an ink ribbon to save. Admittedly, it does create tension and a certain level of strategy: gamers can’t obsessively save, since they could run out of ribbons, and they have to keep a space of inventory free for said ribbons to save at all.
Unfortunately, it seems that Capcom has missed out on the opportunity to invite new players to Resident Evil 0 by making it more approachable for them. The option to play with a more modern control scheme is a welcome addition, but Capcom didn’t go far enough. If Capcom had given players the option to save whenever they want and skip loading cutscenes between rooms, veterans could choose to replay the game they once loved, while giving newbies an option that would make the game feel less clunky and foreign by modern standards.
Resident Evil 0 still stands as a classic, and gamers who loved it back in the day will likely enjoy the new additions and polished appearance. Newcomers to the series, however, will miss out on some references if they play this first instead of the original Resident Evil, but it’s still a decent place to start.
Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster releases on January 19th for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PC code for review.