With the release of the Resident Evil 2 remake, I’m inclined to believe the popular survival horror series is about to enter another golden age. But we can’t forget about 2017’s Resident Evil 7 either, which in itself was an enjoyable and fantastic schlocky B-movie style horror game to romp through.
We know that both the Resident Evil 2 remake and Resident Evil 7 are great survival horror games, but there can only be one winner. In this article, we’re going to compare both games in three different categories: story, gameplay, and horror factor. At the end, we’ll crown our winner. Let’s get started.
Resident Evil 2 Remake vs. Resident Evil 7
Round 1: Story and Writing
This is an interesting category, simply because the story elements of the Resident Evil series have never been particularly strong.
After all, this is the same series where we had Code: Veronica build up the idea that Umbrella was up to all kinds of crazy shit, only to find out in the very next game (Resident Evil 4) that Umbrella had somehow dissolved during the time span between those games. Okay.
However, both RE2 and RE7 actually have pretty great contained stories. Starting with Resident Evil 7, a big part of what made this game such a hit in 2017 was the fact that we were introduced to Ethan Winters as a new protagonist.
This was a guy who was completely new to all of the series’ virus shenanigans, and more importantly, he had little combat experience, which made the game that much more tense.
Ethan is the everyman that now-veterans Chris, Jill, Leon, and Claire used to be in their respective games. Ethan’s story was simple as well: head to Louisiana to find his wife, who had gone missing three years ago. Right from the start, you’re invested in Ethan’s quest to find Mia, and his genuine reactions to all the horror around him made him relatable.
The overall plot does fall somewhat flat in the end, especially when RE7 starts to lean into the “scary little girl” horror movie trope, but everything leading up to that had been great.
RE7 also impressed me with the way it handled its villain. While, yes, she is the creepy little girl that likes to get all up in our faces, Capcom did a nice job of making her a sympathetic character at the end of the game.
On the flip side, Resident Evil 2’s setup is considered a classic at this point. Rookie cop Leon gets ambushed by zombies on his first day to work, while Claire is in Raccoon City looking for her brother Chris.
The remake fleshes out the story greatly, including new plot points that help to round out the story a bit more, and making the characters feel more like human beings rather than meme-worthy caricatures. The relationships between Leon and Ada, and Claire and Sherry respectively are incredibly well-done in the remake.
Both Ada and Sherry, in particular, have more depth and nuance to them this time around.
It’s certainly worth noting that the writing in this game is much better as well, and that becomes very evident in the documents you pick up. For instance, in the original game, you could find Chris’ diary in the STARS Office, which divulged every little detail and thought that went through his head.
In the remake, on the other hand, Chris’ plans post-RE2 are not immediately obvious, and we only ever get a slightly cryptic clue in the form of a letter that gives us a hint to his intentions.
As great as Leon and Ada are, though, the real stars of this remake are definitely Claire and Sherry. Sherry has finally graduated from being the annoying little girl to a very sympathetic character that you can actually root for over the course of the game.
Despite how inconsistent Claire’s portrayals in the series have been, Capcom got her just right in the remake, presenting her as a badass who gets shit done when the need arises, but also not forgetting her kind and motherly side when it comes to people she cares about.
Winner: It’s got to be Resident Evil 2, but by an extremely slight margin. Capcom’s writing in the Resident Evil series has gotten better over the years, allowing Resident Evil 7 to blossom as a pretty tightly written horror adventure.
However, Resident Evil 2 always had great story potential, even during the PS1 days, and Capcom was able to capitalize on that and deliver a story with extremely likable heroes, and equally despicable degenerate villains.