DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: CAPCOM / PLATFORM: NINTENDO SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Capcom first announced they would be releasing a prequel to the inaugural entry in their flagship survival horror franchise all the way back in 1998. Originally intended to be an N64 exclusive, production delays and the realisation that there was no way their vision of the game could fit on one single cartridge meant Resident Evil Zero was held back, and development moved over to the Nintendo Gamecube. Much like Resident Evil:REmake (which only came out a few months prior), REZero was initially a Gamecube exclusive, before eventually being ported to modern consoles. Now we see the continuation of Capcom and Nintendo’s long and fruitful relationship as the HD remaster of REZero arrives on Switch.
Much like the other early games in the series, players control a polygonal character moving on pre-rendered backgrounds with fixed camera angles. Traditional tank controls are present, but there is an option to use modern directional analogue controls. Where REZero differs from its similar-playing counterparts is the ability to control two characters and switch between them on the fly. This is necessary for several puzzles and combat scenarios. Players initially control Rebecca Chambers (who is a minor cast member in the first game), but are introduced fairly early on in proceedings to fugitive Billy Coen, who becomes the second playable character. Our two plucky heroes first find themselves on a claustrophobic zombie-infested train, before arriving in more familiar surroundings in the form of a spooky mansion complete with convoluted and circuitous door opening procedures and booby traps galore. God only knows what the Spencer family’s maintenance bills must be like.
When it was released all the way back in 2002, although not panned, critics didn’t look upon REZero particularly favourably. The general consensus was that the old style of Resident Evil games had run its course and fixed camera angles were a thing of the past. Thankfully, time and hindsight have been kind, and most seem to acknowledge the superior tension, level design and execution here. Resident Evil Zero is a bonafide survival horror classic, and deserving of its place in any Switch collection. There’s no new content here, but if you’ve not experienced this game before, this is almost certainly the best way to do it.