The first time you turn on the new Resident Evil 2 remake, it instructs you to adjust a number of visual "sliders." Is this image light enough? Is that image dark enough? Is this symbol too distinct, too faded, or just right? These adjustments are to ensure that you're getting the optimal visual experience the developers intended for you, regardless of your TV settings. Lots of games do something similar, but most of them don't so many sliders for you to fiddle with.
I understood the reasoning behind this fussiness once I started playing. Lit properly, the zombies become partially camouflaged in the shadows, and what stands out is anything that's wet; a puddle of blood, a pile of guts, or some brain matter splattered against the floor. It catches the light and glistens; it's disgusting, and thus, effective. This excerpt from Capcom's press release helps you understand why:
With Capcom’s proprietary RE Engine powering a new photorealistic style, the characters themselves appear sharper than ever and the grotesque hordes of zombies are brought to life with a horrifyingly realistic wet gore effect.
Zombies now react in real time as they take instant visible damage, making every bullet from the player count.
We interviewed Resident Evil 2 director Kazunori Kadoi about the importance of gore to horror games, and to Resident Evil 2 in particular, as well as the work they put into their "RE Engine."
Your developers used an in-house "RE Engine" to create this game. What do you feel are the advantages to this?
The beauty of having an in-house engine is having that extra level of flexibility. One of the main purposes of the RE Engine was to streamline production to increase efficiency and speed, which would also make certain tasks more cost-efficient.
We can evaluate a team’s strengths and weaknesses, [then] update the RE Engine in ways that benefit the team most. In this regard, it’s been a fantastic tool to have in the development of Resident Evil 2.
Why the specific emphasis on "wet gore" in Resident Evil 2?
If I had to summarize it into one statement, we wanted to emulate that inherent level of fear that people have towards sickness and disease. They have a natural intuition to know that moist or wet areas tend to carry more pathogens than a dry area.
Can you tell us any details, along these lines, that the team is especially proud of?
The facial features of the humans and zombie characters are textured at 2048x2048 pixels, which speaks to the level of detail we put into the visuals. In addition to that, we used high-resolution textures on much of the background environments as well.
One of our objectives was making sure the physical damage and reactions were as realistic as possible. You can really see this by utilizing different weapons on different enemies. If you use the shotgun or hand grenades on the zombies, their flesh will get torn apart and impacted in a much more [severe] manner.
Do you feel this serves a necessary function in a horror title?
Gore is a visual tool that gives that extra level of realism and visceral tension. When the characters and enemies are inflicted with physical damage and it’s depicted in a very real and detailed manner, it makes the situation and threat that much more real. This in turn allows the player to get more easily attached or involved in the narrative and environment.
The more immersed and attached the player is, the more scary and impactful it’ll be—whether running into an adversary, or simply walking through an empty, dark corridor. And that, of course, is one of the main goals we always want to achieve in a survival horror game.
Resident Evil 2 launches on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on January 25, 2019. It is a remake of the 1998 original title, also titled Resident Evil 2. Check out the official website for more information.