The Resident Evil 2 Remake is an exceptional game, but also one that could easily take the series down a road it just corrected its course from if Capcom isn’t careful.
Since its release on Jan. 25, the Resident Evil 2 Remake has been making waves among the gaming community. It sold an outstanding 3 million units in its first week, and given the positive reception from critics and fans alike, it doesn’t look to be slowing down.
After even a few minutes with the game though, it’s easy to see that this success was earned.
The sense of dread as Mr. X inches closer to you through labyrinthine hallways; the panic as a careless step alerts a Licker to your presence in pitch black darkness; and the elation when your last bullet puts down an abominable mutation are all used perfectly.
They’ve been painstakingly crafted to build upon the experience for something truly special, and as a result, have taken the series to new heights that haven’t been seen since the success of Resident Evil 4.
And yet, just like with Resident Evil 4, Capcom’s actions following this massive hit could make or break the series.
The title’s success leaves Capcom at a crossroads with two general options. They can either replicate the game’s design for Resident Evil 8, or they can continue to build on its design with small tweaks and enhancements.
All things considered, it wouldn’t be surprising if they lean toward replication of the Remake’s design. After all, if something isn’t broken and succeeds the way it has, why try to change it?
Therein, however, lies the problem. Almost all of what Resident Evil 2 Remake does so well isn’t something that can be perfectly replicated in another title, or at least can’t be done again without becoming stale.
Yes, you could repeat the terror of being stalked by Mr. X with a new hulking terror. Sure, you could make the game feel tense and claustrophobic with cramped, enemy guarded hallways.
At the end of the day though, it would be something that players had seen before and, thanks to the quality of the Resident Evil 2 Remake, almost assuredly better.
Trying to tweak and build on these elements minimally to maintain its design could backfire just as easily.
Because of how succinctly all of the game’s design elements mesh with each other, small changes could throw the whole balancing act out of whack.
This was a big part of what dragged down the entries that followed Resident Evil 4. After fans responded so well to an entry that focused more heavily on over the top action, they tried to replicate its success with similar, outlandish set pieces in Resident Evil 5 and 6.
As a result, though, more and more of the series’ horror roots were lost until the series became a shallow shell of its former self. Fans lost interest, and the series went into a free-fall from grace.
So how can Capcom move forward without dragging the series back down? Simple: They can accept that the Remake succeeded, learn from what went right and move on toward new ideas and design frameworks before they ruin what they worked so hard to make.
It may sound crazy, but it’s not exactly an option that isn’t on the table. Before the success of the Resident Evil 2 Remake, they saw the series’ last mainline entry, Resident Evil VII, turn into a surprise hit.
Fans lauded it as a return to the series’ horror roots while also praising its embrace of new mechanics and design aesthetics tied to VR gameplay.
It wasn’t a perfect title to be sure, and it was a risk they only took because the series was in a free fall, but it still brought the series forward in a way that fans were welcome to and opened the gates for what it could be moving forward.
It’s an option that could allow the series to continue to grow instead of stagnating and chasing after a success that might be impossible to repeat exactly as it happened before.
The Resident Evil 2 Remake is a phenomenal game –there’s no denying that. It very well might go down as one of the best survival horror games of all time.
As an entry in the Resident Evil series, though, it shouldn’t be the be-all end-all, and Capcom should look toward fresh new ideas and design concepts if they want the series to continue to grow.