The problem with Resident Evil isn’t that everybody dies, it’s that nobody ever stays dead. The series has never treated mortality with any kind of permanence. In the first few games, which were fairly traditional zombie stories, that was fine. It was mostly the point. But throughout many, often ill-advised sequels, Capcom started to apply the same logic to their major characters and plot beats. Albert Wesker has been the recurring series villain for 20 years, and he was killed in the first game.
The reason for Wesker’s implausible resilience is the T-Virus – a zombie-brewing superweapon that is also responsible for all of Resident Evil’s other unanswerable narrative quandaries. Sometimes they call it the G-Virus, or the C-Virus, and sometimes it’s a parasite called Las Plagas, but functionally it’s always the same thing: Bottled contrivance. Whatever you need, story-wise, the T/G/C-Virus Parasite can provide it. Monster outbreaks in Midwestern America, rural Spain, Africa? Done. Games set on luxury cruise liners and multicar locomotives? No problem. Villains and supporting characters dying grisly but ultimately unimportant deaths? Easy. Everything that has ever happened in a Resident Evil game can be explained by this, insofar as anything that has ever happened in a Resident Evil game can be explained at all.
Continue reading Review – Resident Evil VII
Video games sure are weird. I mean, only in this bonkers industry could something like Dying Light even exist. It is, for all intents and purposes, the sequel to 2011’s Dead Island in all but name: it’s developed by the same team, it has the same kind of zombies, it has the same pseudo-RPG first-person gameplay, and it even has the same ridiculously stupid weapon degradation mechanic. It isn’t Dead Island 2, though, because that’s being developed by Yager (those’re the guys who made the excellent Spec Ops: The Line) and will be released later this year. So I hope for the sake of both games that they’re not as similar in reality as they look to be on paper, because otherwise the most oversaturated genre in media today will be further saturated by two versions of the exact same game.
Still, Dying Light does indeed exist, so as a fun little exercise let’s try talking about it without mentioning Dead Island every couple of minutes.
Continue reading Review – Dying Light
Ah, Corvo Attano. I remember our first meeting like it was yesterday. He was returning home; to the bubonic city of Dunwall, and to the side of its Empress and her daughter, Emily, whose lives it was his job to protect. I remember my first few tentative steps in his boots, how his head bobbed as I steered him along. I remember the Royal Spymaster, peering down at me from atop his beaky nose, and I remember thinking how suspicious he was. Had nobody else noticed? I remember the Empress, how she seemed exactly halfway between cartoon and live-action. I remember the first of the hooded assassins teleporting into frame. Were they wearing… gas masks? No time to ponder. There was suddenly a sword in my right hand and a gun in my left, but I had no idea how to swing one or fire the other, and before I knew it the Empress was dead and Emily was gone. I remember the Spymaster’s nose bobbing back onscreen, and wondering, again, how nobody knew this guy was bad news. He promptly accused Corvo of murdering the Empress. Betrayal, I thought. Dishonour. Oh, of course. The last thing I remember is the hilt of a sword rushing towards Corvo’s face, and then nothing at all.
Corvo is the hero of Dishonored, Arkane Studios’ first-person, semi-open-world assassination game. He doesn’t speak and we never see his face, but we know he’s the hero because there’s a camera in his head and he wears a mask that looks like half a clockwork skull. Dishonored loves that mask. It adorns the box art and the title screen and the installation thumbnail. There’s even a loving, extended animation of it being removed and replaced between missions. Most people, quite justifiably I think, don’t remember Corvo. Why would they? But they remember that mask.
Continue reading Review – Dishonored