Nearly everyone who played Resident Evil 2 remembers it fondly. An ambitious follow-up to one of the most well-loved horror games of its era, RE2 pushed the boundaries of the still-nascent survival horror genre and vaulted the Resident Evil name to the top of the horror heap.
But fewer people are aware that a half-completed version of the sequel has been floating around on the internet for nearly twenty years in one form or another. Video surfaced from playable builds the team at Capcom had produced, but an official version has never been released.
Granted, it is basically a skeletal version of the eventual RE2, with some major modifications and changes. The basic premise and some of the characters are the same. What seems to draw people to RE1.5 is the “What If?” factor. What if this game had been released? What if the team had just pushed through and completed something with which they were not entirely pleased?
That, and the fact that footage of the game actually exists, perpetually brings people to speculate about what it would be like to play such a thing. That dream is growing ever more possible, as leaked code has motivated fans to attempt a recreation of that original, “lost” game.
Shortly after the astoundingly popular release of the first Resident Evil game in 1996, the team at Capcom immediately began work on a follow-up. Raccoon City had been overrun with zombies, and the Umbrella Corporation had been closed. This may sound familiar to those who played the proper sequel.
Similarly, it featured the introduction of Leon Kennedy as one of the few remaining police officers left in Raccoon City. Leon would become a series staple, and his characterization in the final game is largely reflective of this early version, called even by director Shinji Mikami as Resident Evil 1.5.
However, the other new character in this early version of the game was a college student (and motorcycle enthusiast) named Elza Walker. She would later be changed dramatically and renamed Claire Redfield, traveling to Raccoon City on a mission to find her brother Chris.
This version also features a police station, but one that is vastly different from the one that most players would recognize. The weapons are different, and the game just doesn’t have the same nerve-wracking tension of the original, which is perhaps why producer Shinji Mikami had it scrapped in favor of a complete overhaul.
Estimates have it that Resident Evil 1.5 was 60-80% done when the decision to redo it was handed down, which is another element that contributes to the continued interest in it. That game has always been at the heart of tons of discussion and available only in the form of incomplete video footage. For years, people have uploaded and re-uploaded the same content, speculating about what it would be like to play the game but incapable of doing so.
Or, at least, a year ago.
According to a post on NeoGAF, a playable build of the game is available online. An ISO group used leaked code in order to create something approximating the lost game. Eurogamer reported in February of last year that the idea was to release a fully realized version, but some individuals attempting to sell their incomplete work pushed them to release their current build.
This fan-made version is entirely not-for-profit — obviously — and the group behind it, Team IGAS, does not condone anyone trying to make money from their work. Taking a look at the YouTube channel reveals some developer commentary of the mundane work of transforming the hypothetical into something real, and there is a weird kind of magic to it.
The project has been updated somewhat since February 2013, but no finished product has been released. In terms of quality, those who have played it admit the game is, in the words of NeoGAF user randomwab, “an unfinished mess.”
Players will need to work some debugging magic to be able to travel from area to area and so on, and no word has been released on when a more complete, less broken version might appear. Anyone interested in speculation about the game can follow now-lengthy NeoGAF thread.
Still, any playable version is better than no playable version, and the community at Team IGAS is intent upon making something complete to release to the public. You can follow their updates on FaceBook and keep track of when you, too, might be able to play the lost version of RE1.5