Raccoon City is a big haunted house that's enshrouded in mystery. The labyrinthine environments are just as fascinating as the monsters and the story arc, and in many ways, the city itself is the star of the whole show.
The game is layered in a way of indirect progression. There's lots of retracing steps and going back to areas you've already visited to unlock doors. But the game is dynamic enough where the areas change; a hallway you cleared out is now scouted by wall-crawling blood beasts, or the zombies you killed simply come back to life to gnaw on you a bit.
The areas you revisit are reactive, as if the haunted house knows you're getting closer to escaping so it sends out more monsters to get you.
This is also nightmarish in its own way simply because you get lost often. Raccoon City's various locales, from the Police Department to the Sewers and the Laboratory are all maze-like and can quickly overwhelm your senses. That's a big part of what makes RE2 Remake so scary: it overwhelms your sensory input and taps this deep, primal part of our humanity. It reaches that part where blind fear and panic take over, that electric pocket where fight or flight reflexes rest.
Getting lost a tomb is disorienting and creepy enough, but add in marauding ghouls, and you've got a recipe for total dread. This adds another layer to that psychological terror that Capcom is so adept at.
The puzzles only add to this mix of frustration and disorientation. You get mixed up a lot, and the puzzles aren't always straightforward. Capcom once again tests your mental fortitude with clever puzzles of logic and management skills. Capcom gives us clues and tidbits, but sometimes you simply just don't know what to do and keep experimenting until you figure it out.
Resident Evil 2 Remake's game mechanics have been refined to a tee. The REngine allows for RE4-style over-the-shoulder aiming (gone are the days of tank controls!). The aiming is great, but the reticle is quite slow at shrinking, so you'll always have to carefully time your movement and your shots...which is a lot easier said than done when you're getting overrun.
Shooting is tactical and requires finesse, skill, and oftentimes luck. It's satisfying getting that perfect headshot, but most of the time you simply want to avoid altercations altogether and make a rush for the exit and hope for the best. Sometimes it works, other times you get chomped, slashed, or mauled.
Inventory management is still in, but it's more forgiving this time. Players always need to be mindful of what they're carrying and of how much. Paying attention to what you have (and don't have) is a must, so only carry what you know you need. Mixing the right gunpowder and herb concoctions takes some anticipation, but the game is constantly throwing curve balls so its hard to predict what you might need. Often there will be subtle clues, like a Blue Herb near a particular entrance, or some shotgun shells on a shelf.
Movement is funky and kind of janky but nothing like the awkward old-school tank controls. Rather than taking away from the experience, though, the movement scheme adds to that sense of dire helplessness at times. Often you feel like you're moving in a dream, sludging through ooze and trying to escape some freaky hellspawn intent and chewing your guts.
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