Resident Evil: Deadly Silence Nintendo DS Review

It’s hard to imagine that the first Resident Evil game came out ten years ago – remember Euro 96, the Spice Girls and the godawful Doctor Who movie? It really makes you feel old. Playing through Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (Note the sly “DS” reference in the title) is a welcome reminder of how the survival horror genre kicked off a decade back.

The story is pure B-movie fodder, but it works so well. A specialist police force is sent to investigate grisly murders around a deserted mansion, only to find said mansion crawling with zombies, mutant plants, giant spiders, and other genetically altered horrors. Capcom have somehow managed to shoehorn the entirety of the PlayStation original into a tiny DS cartridge, and managed to throw in a handful of new game modes as well. The main attraction is the ‘Rebirth’ mode. Taking cues from later Resident Evil games, this remixed version adds quick reloading and a knife on hand at all times, more zombies, lots more ammunition, and new touch screen based puzzles.

An occasional first person mode is included where you can use the touch screen to slash and stab at stumbling zombie hordes with the knife. Thankfully, the notorious “door opening” animations can be skipped now. Rather than using the voice acting and cinema scenes of the remade GameCube version, Capcom have chosen to leave in the original script, complete with cheese-filled one liners. In its own way, it’s quite fun to once again hear Barry call Jill “the Master of Unlocking” and to hear a dying Richard actually say “Ouch!” as he coughs up blood.

However, some less welcome features remain from the old version like a bad hangover. The control system remains as clumsy as ever, and the use of ink ribbons to save the game is still there despite being removed in last year’s Resident Evil 4. It was bad enough on the PlayStation, but limiting save games is even worse on a handheld console. You’ll want to save your game after having a quick blast, but having to use up a precious ink ribbon for only a few minutes play is just frustrating. Having to deposit stuff in item boxes is back as well. Again, Resident Evil 4 managed to work around this by letting you carry more items, but you’re stuck with a small inventory here. The game also is a lot less scary than it used to be – while the “Boo!” horror of zombie dogs jumping through windows still makes you jump, decaying zombies have been done a lot better in the last few years, and this game’s brainless shufflers haven’t aged well.

On the whole, it’s still a good game, bio-chemically altered warts and all. It’s a great way for people who didn’t get to play the original to find out how the series kicked off, and it’s a fine nostalgia trip for people who spent the lazy autumn of 1996 wandering around the Spencer Mansion.

8 out of 10
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