Shoulda Called The Cops
I just have to say right off the bat that I freaking love this game. Everything from the visuals to the mechanics to the overall aesthetic just strikes all the right cords. Apparently, Capcom utilized their new RE Engine to build this puppy, and the technology has not been squandered in the slightest. Every squeak, every crunch over the grass, every bullet fired, you hear it all, and for good reason because sound is very, very important in a game where you’re constantly being stalked and you never know what’s around the corner or trying to sneak up behind you.
Story-wise, you play as everyman(?) Ethan Winters–
He's got that 'I've seen some shit' thousand-yard stare going on.
–who’s come to the Baker’s eerily derelict house in search of his wife Mia, who’s been MIA for three years. The Baker’s consist of your usual carnival of hillbilly horror movie killers from the unstoppable father, Jack, to the foul-mouthed, estranged wife, Marguerite, right down to the elderly grandma who does literally nothing except recline in her chair but is somehow ten times the threat because of it, and their brilliant yet psychotic son, Lucas.They have a daughter, too, Zoe, who… is there. She is, she helps Ethan gather supplies around the house needed to craft a cure that plagues him, her, and his wife.
You might have noticed that question mark next to ‘everyman’ up there, and I put that there because of various scenes throughout the game that suggest Ethan may not even be what he appears, insofar as knowing what’s going on despite the appearance of normalcy he’s coated in. For one thing, despite all the gruesome, gnarly, and downright insidious things that occur not only in the Baker’s house but to him as well, Ethan rarely ever shows surprise. Ever. He handles horrific loss of limb and hordes of roaming molded like a man who’s dealt with that kind of depraved shit on the daily.
For another, note the sheer lack of common sense exhibited just ten seconds into the opening monologue. Ethan’s conversing with what we guess is a friend about his wife, who went missing three years ago but somehow managed to send him a message telling him to come find her. Pause right there. So, your wife’s been AWOL for such and such a time and the first thing you do when she hits you up is NOT contact the police. Okay, I mean, sure. It’s not what I’d do but hey, it ain’t my wife. Still, it’s this very early moment that lends credence to the notion that maybe Ethan ain’t so on the up and up.
Or maybe that’s just game logic and Ethan’s an idiot.
Past that, the opening is bloody fantastic, like the first bite of a freshly baked pie, only to find that, wait a minute, that’s not flaky pie crust! It’s the crunchy exterior of a bunch of roach carcasses and wasps and the filling is actually teeming with mold that seems hellbent on trying to assimilate with you via your oral cavity. It starts off phenomenally good, one of the best openings in the series since RE4 and the village segment, then quickly morphs into jaw-dropping horror, but in the best way possible.
From there, the gameplay style shifts into this deadly bout of hide-and-seek during which you’ll frantically struggle to duck and evade the Baker family patriarch, Jack, as you scour about for keys—keys that make not a lick of sense—to get the hell out of the house. Now, I’ve played a lot of horror games and games claiming to be horror and seen all manner of jumpscares and whatnot but… oddly… nothing quite got my heart racing like being chased around a dining room table by a deranged hillbilly brandishing a bloody spade. I was screaming, “Get away from me!” before I even realized it, shuffling left and right in a bid to slip past. It’s a different kind of raw fear, right in your face, something that could realistically happen, and that’s how the fear really grips you.
It’s just an infected family looking to rearrange your insides like a jigsaw puzzle.
Did he really just give me a knife...?
As highly lauded as I think the game is, there are several, several points where logic just dives headfirst out the window of a skyscraper.
Case in point: The Deputy–
This guy... this guy right here, just... We already know Ethan is a love-driven idiot for storming the Baker house Normandy-style in search of his wife but this deputy right here is a shining example of 'things not to do if you wanna live through a horror film' if I ever saw it. In fact, let's just run through a checklist of all the ways he royally fucked himself up, shall we?
- He investigates a known hotspot by himself.
- He doesn't immediately call for back-up after spotting Ethan in obvious distress.
- Has a chance at redemption by not giving Ethan his gun, only to fuck that up by giving him a knife instead.
- Continues to investigate by himself.
- He doesn't listen to a word Ethan is saying in the garage.
- Gets killed in a way that's was so eye-twitchingly and easily preventable stupid that all you can do is laugh.
I mean, I get it, the deputy was a plot-device, existing solely to give Ethan hope and then die to push him into a further state of desperation, I get that, it's the circle-of-life regarding the horror genre, but wow, they could have gone about it a better way. Unless, of course, they wanted us to laugh at the Deputy's plight, in which case, Capcom has some twisted humor.
And speaking of characters who do outrageously stupid things, now we turn to the wife.