I wasn’t sure how I felt when Capcom announced that Resident Evil 2 would see a demo. I kept telling myself that I wanted to be fully surprised on my first run through of the game. But, there was something tugging at my curiosity about the 30-minute long playable snippet. Before I knew it, I had plowed through it on both PC and Xbox One X.
When I first heard about the parameters to the demo, I was a little turned off by it. Having something only 30 minutes of total play time didn’t seem like it was going to showcase enough of the game. But to my relief, even though the demo is short and easy enough for many to complete on the first try, there’s enough content to keep fans like me on the hook.
Now It’s Time For A Quick Tour
It’s unknown how exactly how much this version of Resident Evil 2 will differ from the original. It’s kind of like going to a place you haven’t been since you were a kid. You might remember some of the things as they were, and some looking a little bit different than you remember. The same can be said for many of the areas of the police station shown off in the demo.
Many of the halls still feel the same, having zombies banging on broken windows, even spotting a licker crawling swiftly out of sight on another. You may even find yourself staring at a safe in the office and wondering if the code is still the same to open it (Womp, womp, it’s not). Although there is slightly more emphasis on action in the remake, the overall eerie atmosphere is still intact. Dark corridors and jump scares still deliver that same uneasiness that the original brought. And, there’s still that sense of panic when more than one zombie is in your field of view.
Shooty, Shoot Shoot
Weapons available in the demo include a pistol, shotgun, and combat knife. Storing these in your inventory reveals a familiar management screen for those who’ve played Resident Evil 7. Although this does deviate from the original design of Resident Evil 2, it does tie the franchise together for fans that had never played the original (even if it is a reimagining).
One of the things that caught me off-guard was the knife’s deterioration. I hadn’t paid much attention to the bar located under the knife in my inventory. In the original, the knife was your last line of defense (or only for you psychopaths out there) if you didn’t carefully track your bullet count. At least now you can stab zombies when they spring towards you, leaving you to retrieve it once downed. I don’t know if it’s going to be an item you can pick up regularly or craft, but it does add to the panic of being weaponless with the undead nipping at your heels.
Much like your knife’s deterioration, you might also notice that you can dismantle the flesh of your enemies. Shooting an approaching zombie in the head will cause skin and splatters of blood to fly. They might also lose bits and pieces of their melon as you continue landing shots. I had noticed this on my first playthrough and decided to grab a few screens to see how much deterioration could be seen on some of the corpses. Of course, this meant shooting a body impaled on a pipe in the station. It’s the little things, right?
Uncanny Valley Woes
There was a lot to unpack in the demo, especially given its brevity. I had played through the first time on Xbox One, allowing me to explore more of the police station and read through documents obtained. However, the one thing that I noticed during the demo was the uncanny valley feels given off by Marvin.
In the demo, the officer known as Marvin assists you with a few things, specifically handing you his combat knife. But, even with him demanding you take his advice when it comes to dealing with the zombies that have overrun the station, it’s hard not to notice his empty eye animations. I know this is just a demo. And more than likely, it’s the demo that many played at E3 2018. Still, this is one thing that I’m hoping looks and feels a wee bit more polished when the game fully releases.
Adds Context To The Resident Evil Universe
The first time that I played Resident Evil 2 I was 12 years old. My grandmother unknowingly purchased one of the bloodiest games for the PlayStation 1 for her grandson. But, this was my real first foray into the franchise. I mention this mostly because as the franchise has aged through the years, so have the game’s events.
One thing that I really enjoyed playing through the demo was Leon’s younger features. Even his voice lets you realize how young he is at this point, when he and Claire fought to make it out of Raccoon City alive. His dialogue shows how green he is, mentioning that this is his first day on the job.
The rest of the dialogue in the demo is far less robotic than its predecessor. It isn’t there just to keep things going during cutscenes. It instead better humanizes Leon’s character given the events unfolding around him. He has much more believable word choices, even in his brief conversation with Marvin. Capcom could have simply reskinned the characters and slapped some HD textures on the game knowing that people still would have purchased it. There is instead a sense of when these events occurred in the RE timeline, and just how much of a triumph this was for a rookie cop at the R.C.P.D.
The Resident Evil 2 demo has a ton of content to explore. I’m lucky enough to own a PC along with an Xbox One X. This allowed me to play the demo more than once, seeing different things each time that I played through it. The demo is surely short but very, very sweet. It’s a good crash course in what to expect for new players and a little bit of fan service for returning fans. The atmosphere was kept intact for this remake, and it left me excited to see what the full game entails.