Lost in Nightmares, the 2nd batch of bonus content for Resident Evil 5 was released on February 18, 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PS3 at the cost of about $5. Early trailers teased a retro look similar to the first Resident Evil, with Chris and Jill commented on the absurdity of puzzles they find. It looked like Capcom’s goal was to appeal to fans of the original release as well as those who helped to make RE5 the highest selling Resident Evil game yet.
Taking place in 2007, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine are on the trail of Owzell E. Spencer, the megalomaniacal founder of Umbrella. Their BSAA contact has tracked him to a mansion in Europe and they move in to arrest the man responsible for the destruction of Raccoon City and many other crimes against humanity. Arriving at this oddly familiar looking mansion, Jill demonstrates her “master of unlocking” title and the game begins.
Immediately you notice the look of the environs, simultaneously evoking feelings of dread and suspense, much like the original Resident Evil. I admire the art direction in the relatively small budgeted production, as it is able to give the familiar scare aspects of Resident Evil that some say was missing from the action fest that was Resident Evil 5.
Visual clues abound, such as computers that you have to find passwords for, files that you have to read to get clues, and puzzles that you have to solve. It is clear that the developers were going for the old-school Resident Evil look, with dimly light hallways, casting eerie shadows and fireplaces that ominously crackle. The presence of a certain diary is pure fanservice as well!
While there aren’t a lot of enemies, they did take the opportunity to introduce a new foe that you’ll come to hate: The Anchor Man (haven’t heard an official name) This monstrosity looks like the Executioner from RE5 and wields a giant anchor. Their design brings to mind the creature Lisa Trevor from the Gamecube Remake, what with their overgrown shoulders and pulsing giant eye on their back, also reminiscent of William Birkin’s G Type from Resident Evil 2. They also have better A.I than most enemies and an instant kill disembowelment move involving their anchors. Pretty visceral!
Going hand in hand with the eeriness of the graphical presentation is the sound effects and music. I was disappointed that the music is almost all entirely ambient, save for cacophonous bursts to alert you of danger. It serves the game well, but oddly ignores the rich diversity of music that was present in Resident Evil a decade ago. It started to make its way to a greater emphasis on environmental sounds in Rebirth for the Gamecube, and I haven’t been happy since.
What is here does a great job at setting the mood of fear and unease, with random lightning screams, eerie moans, and random crashing sounds. I half expected a Nemesis type enemy to pursue me constantly due to the dearth of enemies; it didn’t quite happen, but the sound presentation sure hints that anything could be lurking right around the corner, looking to ambush you.
There is also some new music in the new Mercenaries mode, the theme that was used in the trailer announcing Barry Burton as a character. In another bit of great fanservice, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is present in form of a familiar puzzle. Sweet!
Gameplay still plays just like Resident Evil 5, with the over-the shoulder camera system and the manual aiming, no doubt maintained to better acclimate those who might not be familiar with the old-school Resident Evil gameplay. Weapons don’t play much of a role and ammo is few and far between, requiring the player to use the environment and proper teamwork to evade the Anchorman and solve puzzles. It’s definitely original Resident Evil, what with find key/emblem, take to lock, place in block to release lock, and proceed to next area.
Lost in Nightmares also makes good use of the partner system with assist jumps required to reach certain areas and deathtraps that require quick thinking on your ally’s part. It feels like a concentrated effort to bridge the two playstyles, so that you will be able to figure the game out, whatever control scheme you are familiar with.
Besides LIN, there is a new Mercenaries Mode called Reunion. This mode plays identically to the original, save for some new enemies and timer locations. The new characters so far are Excella Gione and the famous Barry Burton from the original game! They each have their own unique weapons and melee attacks. Excella’s rear melee and Barry’s arm stun are particularly awesome! Check them out! Best of all, Barry has taunts and sound effects that hearken back to Resident Evil, with “WHAT IS THIS?!!” and “I HAVE THIIISSSS!” when he dispatches enemies.
Challenge is dependent on the difficulty you select of course, but I was surprised at the tenacity of the anchor enemies and their intelligence. It is pretty hard to run by them if you are separated from your partner, leading to an instant kill. Cool as it is, you’ll grow tired of seeing it so often, as I did. A later open area involving these enemies is pretty hard to navigate. I recommend using the in-game map by pressing the Left Bumper. It is funny, as I’ve never had to use these maps before due to each Resident Evil room being visually distinctive. Guess Capcom wanted to add a unique challenge, and they succeeded.
Most of the game is just simple puzzles that shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, especially if you are familiar with the old (and often nonsensical) nature of Resident Evil puzzles.
Replay value is limited, as you can only earn higher difficulties and the ability to play as Jill. Given the short length of this adventure, I didn’t expect high replay. That’s what the new Mercenary characters are for!
v Lost in Nightmares is a great download, with plenty of fun to be had for new and old Resident Evil fans alike. As for those who might find the emphasis on puzzles distasteful, look forward to the forthcoming March release, which I’m told will be similar to the action in Resident Evil 5. I’m proud of what Capcom did here; it was a wise decision to make this a download, as I don’t think that people who find a whole game in the style as acceptable as it was years ago.
- Ugly Bob
Check out my original video review of Resident Evil 5.