Release Date: January 25, 2019
Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Note: Be sure to play RE2 Remake with headphones on. The binaural sound adds a distinctly terrifying layer to an already terrifying experience.
Horror games are a kind of magic spell. The best ones conjure up a mind-bending world and throw us into our own nightmares, forcing us to adapt or die. Beset with impossible odds in impossible situations (like a city overrun with undead ghouls), horror games make the player negotiate pockets of hell while trying to remain physically--and mentally--intact.
The byline of Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre comes to mind: Who will survive and what will be left of them?
I can honestly say Capcom's Resident Evil 2 Remake has changed me as a gamer. That might sound dramatic but it's actually true. After playing the game I feel like I survived some great character-defining event, the kind of trial a hero faces as an ultimate test of survival.
Thanks to Capcom's incredible attention to detail and development prowess, the events of Raccoon City seemed real, felt real, and afterwards, I felt like some of the terrifying magic had rubbed off on my psyche, staining it the way ink will stain a white shirt.
This is the hallmark of a good horror game.
No other game made me sweat with a kind of ecstatic anxiety and anticipation as I ran through its hallowed depths, ever-chased by a fate worse than death. The only other one that's come close is Outlast, and that had more frustration rather than the outright panic, awe, and a kind of tantalizing fun that RE2 Remake inspires. The ravenous maw of hell itself threatened to clamp down at every turn, and only my wits and sheer willpower to survive saved me.
Although Resident Evil 2 Remake is the scariest game I've ever played, I couldn't stop myself from playing more. No matter how high the terror spiked my heart rate, no matter how many times I died or how many puzzles I failed, I kept coming back like a moth to a flame. Get too and close you could get burned, but that thrill is magnetic, that vicarious thrill that let me experience a new kind of terror without the direct consequences.
But make no mistake, there are consequences.
A day after I played the Resident Evil 2 Remake I had a hellish nightmare about zombies, the kind where all hope is abandoned and the black veil of death is slowly blinding your vision. It was a bleak dream where walls closed in on me, barricading any exit, trapping me the same way Leon and Claire were trapped in Raccoon City.
The game not only haunted my waking playtime, but invaded my dreams like a saboteur hellbent of warping my mind. Again, all of these things are hallmarks of a great horror game, and I couldn't be more impressed with what Capcom has achieved here.
RE2 Remake isn't just a remaster, or even a simple remake. It's like stepping into the true vision of what Resident Evil 2 was always meant to be. In many ways, it feels like a twisted experiment, as if Capcom are gods that unleash all kinds of havoc and hell for us to deal with.
To understand why RE2 Remake is such an incredible experience for horror fans, we need to dig a little deeper into the grave and unearth its hallowed secrets.
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