Disclaimer: I do not own Resident Evil beyond the random games I own.
Return of Horror
by: Death 101 – Fox Version
You know that feeling when you get the next game in a video game series you love? Not that fear or pondering about if the game is going to be as awesome as its previous ones. It's the feeling of wanting to dance down the halls of the mall or hug the first person you come across as you carry the little bag home. The feeling of anticipation as you pop the disc into the game console and it whirls as the data is converted into holograms in your very own living room or bedroom.
Now imagine that feeling turning to dread when you start to play the game and discover it is just another cash grab with no plot, no gameplay value, and the bastardization of characters. That dread turns to anger and anger is very dangerous.
Capcom recently released Resident Evil Returns after an insanely long gap. My grandparents were huge fans in their youth. They somehow managed to convert an old PSX to run on modified electricity frequency allowing us to play games from the late 1990's. They had every copy of every game. From Resident Evil Zero to Resident Evil Gaiden 2. When my parents were little, my grandparents passed on their love for the series who past it onto my older siblings and me. I almost deafened my block when I found out the new game was coming out. I almost got arrested for breaking the noise laws when I found out the series was bringing back old favourites who had been killed off in Resident Evil 7. The trailers said we'd finally find out what happened to the characters who lived and disappeared from the city. We'd finally know if the mission was over.
Of course my family pre-ordered to get a special extra. When it came time to get the game, my parents dropped us off at the mall. We practically ran to the store to get our copy.
I should have known something was not right when I arrived at the store. For one thing, there were no posters declaring to the world the series was back. For a second thing, the store was empty. A few parents with kids were looking at Nintendo's Holo-cube and Sony's new Play Station. A teen wandered away from her parents and was checking out the X-Box Zoom. Usually when an M rated game came out the employees would close the store to children under 16 and pile the windows with posters so that they could show demos of the game inside the store. This often led to people tripping over displays but it was fun.
My siblings and I approached the doors to the store and my feelings of unease calmed as I posted the large poster for Immortal (an X-box Zoom exclusive.) Resident Evil's big launch had been overshadowed by the upcoming game. It was only a sequel to the game Mortal which placed players in the horror movie of their choice. It wasn't limited to American horror either. Of course, the game was also rumoured to have sent a few kids to hospital but I figured they just tripped over something while playing and broke a leg or something. Unfortunately, that was common with hologram games. So common that people were whispering the return of controllers and couch potatoes. Of course, growing up with the original Resident Evil series meant I would adjust far better than most teens if the video game industry returned to controllers.
Anyways, as we walked by the poster, my older brother paused to read the information. He muttered a few things under his breath before following my older sister and me into the store. The families left and the employees asked which game we were looking for. My older sister calmly explained and the employees traded fearful looks.
"Resident Evil Returns has actually been delayed," the employee said as he braced himself.
He needth have bothered. Delays were very common as more and more people tried to get the holograms banned. Somehow walking around a holographic environment was more dangerous to your health than sitting on a couch getting clogged arteries.
My brother asked how long the delay would be and the employee shrugged. Again, this was common although I was curious why the delay hadn't been made public. I was also curious why Resident Evil Returns was being withheld and not Immortal which was coming out next week. In terms of holograms, Resident Evil Returns was safer. Nintendo and Sony had recently added an object detector belt to come free with each game sold. If you already had one, you could either keep the belt or trade it in for a T-shirt or something. Many people kept the belts to sell on Ebay though. Since Resident Evil Returns was being sold on a Nintendo and Sony hologram console, the belts were included. Immortals, however, was a Holo-game who was famous for their slow attempts to make the game see items in the player's way and adjust for it. In terms of safety, Resident Evil Returns outclassed Immortal so it didn't make sense why Resident Evil Returns was being delayed.
The employees must have spotted the confusion on our faces and apologized. Apparently, they didn't really know what was going on either. However, they did offer us a demo which we gladly agreed to. Within seconds, the store was transformed into the dangerous city streets of Resident Evil Returns. Cars were on fire and the full moon made shadows. A young woman stood before us with a weapon held high. We instantly recognized the woman as Rebecca who had disappeared plot wise after Resident Evil Original. It was hard to tell from the back but she had probably aged since then.
My sister, who was forced into playing as my brother spoke with the employee, took a step forward towards the back of the store. I trailed after her, shoulder tense far any jump scares. In front of us, Rebecca walked, her stance never changed as she matched my sister's speed. As we reached the back of the store, the hologram changed so that my sister and Rebecca were looking back the way they had come. My sister turned and walked towards the front of the store and Rebecca continued forward. After a moment, we came to a stop as a shadow appeared by an overturned vehicle. My sister raised her hands in front of her as if she was holding a gun. Rebecca raised her weapon to point in the direction my sister was pointing. The shadow moved closer. The area a foot below the ceiling and a foot above the floor turned black, signalling the start of a cut scene. My sister and I rushed forward after Rebecca as she ran to the shadow screaming, "Billy!"
The shadow stopped limping and raised a hand. "Stay back! I'm infected."
My sister and I moved so that we were able to see both Rebecca and Billy. Part of me wanted to ask the employees to turn up the brightness but when I looked to ask, I couldn't see them or my brother. Foolishly, I waved off my feelings of unease. I reasoned they had gone into the back to talk about games and turned my attention back to the cut scene. Billy had collapsed and ordered Rebecca to run. She refused and attempted to get close to Billy. Apparently, she had created a cure specifically for him but Billy wouldn't let her near him.
"Damn," my sister said. "Of course they put the demo at the middle of the game. Now we're going to get spoilers."
I was silent as I watched Rebecca desperately try to get to Billy. I didn't understand why he wouldn't accept the cure. The only explanation I could think of was that Billy's guilt was getting the best of him. Personally, I always wondered if Billy knew more than he let on about Umbrella and I did wonder if it involved his mission before the events of Resident Evil Zero. Part of me wondered if we were finally going to learn why Billy and Rebecca were never mentioned in any games plot-wise after Resident Evil 2. I held my breath as Rebecca finally got a hold of Billy's arm. She had a needle in her hand like the ones from before the hospital started to use patches. Billy tried to push her away but she wouldn't let go of his arm. I took a step forward to see better when the holograms disappeared.
"Damn it!" My sister and I shouted as our eyes adjusted back to the video game lined walls of the store. Again I searched the area for signs of the employees. One appeared by the door marked 'Staff Only' and apologized for the demo ending early. He messed around with the computer for a moment before the holograms returned. We were back on the streets but an unfamiliar man was standing in front of Rebecca. He turned and Rebecca, my sister, and I followed. The employee disappeared behind the door and we continued to play. However, as we and Rebecca followed the man, I felt myself worrying again. The store wasn't very large so we should have been asked to turn around. However, we kept walking forwards. Soon the man disappeared through a door that slammed shut behind him. My sister reached out and turned an invisible door knob. Rebecca reached out and opened the door.
Dogs jumped out but instead of attacking Rebecca they attacked my sister. She was screaming as they bit into her flesh and dragged her through the door. The holograms failed revealing a door. Without thinking, I ripped the door open and ran down the stairs; sure I would find my sister.
At the base of the stairs, I found an unfinished basement. It was larger than the store above and seemed to stretch to sit under the store beside the game store. Insulation hung from the walls and a single light bulb hovered just below the ceiling throwing light across the area. Empty boxes littered the floor. Each box was large enough to hold a person and they laid on the ground like coffins, the top open and the boxes lined like graves. There was no blood, no dogs, and no signs of my sister.