I deliberately did not cover the RE3Make “Leak” last week.
Yes, it was more or less official because it was put up on PlayStation Network early, but what can you say about a poster? This is the problem of Premature Revelations of this ilk; it’s newsworthy, but formulating an opinion piece based on one piece of artwork requires bending backwards so far there is a real risk of inserting ones head into their own bottom. I’m not that flexible anymore.
But aside all the questions and reactions and posts, one thing is gnawing away in the back of my head and I think we really should be asking this more; Capcom, with everything going on, it’s time to confront one burning and all-encompassing query…
Is this a series reboot now?
Resident Evil 2 Remake was the first time I pondered this as a serious idea. Many have been arguing for years that Resident Evil, as a series, has a propensity for narratively finding perfectly adequate dead-ends. From Resident Evil 5 killing off a long-standing villain, to Resident Evil 6 tying up as many loose ends as humanly possible and even Resident Evil 7 being an entirely localised phenomenon, we’ve seen the series struggling to keep an eye on the future and more desperately trying to dig up the past. And whilst that’s not always a bad thing – new ideas and mutants will always be good in a horror series – Resident Evil has forever lived in the shadow of Silent Hill in that regard.
By that, I mean that Silent Hill doesn’t need to explain itself like Resident Evil – the latter being entirely grounded in Science Fiction Horror, whereas the former opting for a more loose-fitting Supernatural Horror. It’s meant that whilst one game can reinvent the wheel with each installment, the other needs to keep itself interconnected – and sometimes that means treading heavily on the toes of what came before.
For me, the big alarm bells of this came with Resident Evil 7 – the Chris Redfield redesign was certainly far more realistic and more in keeping with his classic REMake/Code: Veronica look, but it also skipped over the Muscle-Bound Design of Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6. Capcom never once even tried to justify this redesign, and that’s somewhat reasonable until you think about it some more and it becomes patently clear that this just doesn’t add up.
With RE3Make introducing brand new characters – I spotted at least two new people – and a completely redesigned Nemesis (which I LIKE, by the way), and with Claire and Leon getting major character redesigns in RE2Make… this feels very much like treading on the series canon.
It should also be noted here that these games aren’t marketed as Remakes – just Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. That’s another red flag.
Furthermore, it’s not like Resident Evil hasn’t done the “making games non-canon” thing in the past; Resident Evil Gaiden, for example, is now non-canon (and was non-canon the moment Resident Evil 4 released, you’d had to have finished Gaiden to know just how Non-Canon it was at that point!). I also know that Resident Evil Gun Survivor 2 Code: Veronica X is a completely non-canon redo – it was also absolutely terrible – and whilst I know it’s heavily debated, I think Resident Evil: Dead Aim is considered non-canon at this point too.
The upside of a reboot is obvious though; Resident Evil 5 and 6 can be washed away; they never happened, at least canonically, and by the time Capcom gets back to those numbers they might have a far better grasp of what to do and where to take the series. Resident Evil 7 would also likely be rendered non-canon, but I’m relatively convinced that’ll be for the best, because we haven’t heard a lick about Resident Evil 8 in a long time now.
The downside is the good expanded universe will also be non-canon. Revelations, which some have argued should have been Resident Evil 5 (I agree), would be rendered non-canon and that would be a shame. Also, Revelations 2 would be non-canon. As would the excellent Outbreak games, though remaking Outbreak would be a killer call by Capcom because File #2’s “Wild Things” campaign remains a series standout.
It wouldn’t be clean and it wouldn’t be easy, but right now, Capcom needs to be honest with themselves if not us as their fans.
RE2Make was a superb game in its own right, and Resident Evil 3 Remake looks like it’ll be just as amazing. With people already suggesting the next step would be a Code: Veronica remake – which I approve of only if Capcom doesn’t tamper with Alfred Ashford too much, he was a brilliant villain you could almost sympathise with – this would mean the entire front-end of the series will have been remade, with new characters and areas and villains and developments.
And considering the latter portion of the series hasn’t really held up that well, the pressure is well and truly mounting for Capcom to work out exactly where it’s going with all of this. Do you scrap almost two decades worth of games just because the Remakes are doing so well? Or do they consider this as a non-canon novelty trip down memory lane?
Either way, the next few years of Resident Evil games will be extremely interesting.
… now watch as they make me look stupid by showing off Resident Evil 8.