When I think back on the countless hours I’ve invested into the Resident Evil series, it’s mostly a blur of strangely shaped keys, frantic boss fights, and chainsaws whirring toward me, all backed by a mash-up of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Drowning Pool’s Let the Bodies Hit the Floor. It’s intense and wonderful, like I’m driving a bulldozer through a haunted house — not an active one, I’m not a monster — but it’s not what first drew me to these games so many years ago.
This series can be called a very many different things, and subtle is rarely among them anymore. It’s too bad, because Capcom was kind of great at the Art of the Slow Burn early on. While we’re waiting to see which direction it’s headed next, let’s look back at a few of the moments that were memorable for their restraint.
The Hall of Lickers – Resident Evil 5
I had to start with this, if only because it’s five minutes of intense tiptoeing in a game that had me running, gunning, rolling, and yelling at Sheva for being the worst. This is a game that opens with the village fight from Resident Evil 4, only larger and considerably louder, and ends with a showdown set inside of a volcano. That’s about as subtle as punching a boulder the size of a VW Beetle up a hill just so you can ride it down the other side while firing two rocket launchers at a target that’s already 10-15 seconds away from dying like the Terminator.
That’s a jarring scenario, no? About 80% of that actually happened, the rest can be found in my upcoming exposé, “Seeing Redfield: Chris is Totally Using Steroids, You Guys”.
I even liked Resident Evil 5. I think it’s a fun, underrated co-op game that’s often labelled “bad” for either failing to build on its predecessor’s legacy in a meaningful way, or for not promptly undoing that legacy, depending on who you ask. It’s silly, sure, but it also featured one of my all-time favorite moments in the history of the series: the Hall of Lickers.
Near the beginning of chapter 5, Chris and Sheva are tasked with fighting their way through a legion of lickers so they can get to a corridor filled with more lickers. There are only a few at first, wandering about like the big, dumb blind dogs that they are. If you’re quiet, you can walk through the corridor and nary a stray tongue will hassle you. It’s a freaky, albeit woefully brief, moment that can (and will, probably) go from being quietly awesome to a cacophonous disaster when Sheva decides to run like a dickhead toward three goddamn handgun bullets.
You don’t even need those bullets, Sheva. You know what? I’m glad Capcom left you in Africa.