TGS Impressions: Project Resistance Gives an Asymmetrical Spin on the Zombie Killing Formula
posted on by Kim Morrissy
The Resident Evil franchise received a shiny new paint of coat recently, first with the remakes of the original two Resident Evil games and now with Project Resistance, an asymmetrical multiplayer game that completely changes the gameplay from the ground up. You can either play as part of a team of four survivors trying to escape a deadly zombie-infested area, or you can play as the mastermind who spies on the survivors and sets up traps to prevent them from succeeding their goals in time.
If you're playing as one of the survivors, the game uses the same engine and controls as Resident Evil 2, so on paper it sounds like it should feel like a similar game. However, this is far from the truth, because every mechanic that Project Resistance adds downplays the horror and suspense in favor of the gunslinging and puzzle-solving aspects. When you're playing in a team, the isolation and lack of agency that's so intrinsic to horror games goes away, so even the strongest zombies are no longer terrifying. Instead, they're reduced to obstacles, which is made even more evident when you're playing as the mastermind who places the zombies on the map.
I suspect that how much you like this game will have very little to do with how much you enjoyed the original Resident Evil games. Personally, I was too chicken to properly get into Resident Evil, but I really enjoyed my time with Project Resistance. In particular, I was a fan of how, if you're playing as the mastermind, you're essentially constructing a game as you go along, making each round of play a unique experience. And if you're one of the survivors, you're never going to know what the mastermind will throw at you next, and you'll need proper teamwork to coordinate properly. The simplicity of the setup allows for depth and innovation on both the mastermind and survivors' part.
In the two rounds that I played at Tokyo Game Show, the mastermind won on both occasions. It's hard to say whether this was due to a balance issue with the game or because newcomers will find the survivor roles more difficult to grasp at the beginning. Every survivor character can release others from mobility-debilitating traps and hit enemies with their guns and other weapons, but on top of that, each character has a role that roughly corresponds to "tank," "healer," and "attacker." The only other role introduced, at least so far, is the "hacker," which involves blocking the mastermind's view of the room you're occupying. The roles are simple and clearly defined, but as you may expect, you can't expect to win if everyone plays independently instead of thinking about how best to combine their specialties. You also get to choose a special ability before the start of a round to further optimize your character's role and play style.
As for when you play the mastermind, you get to pick the general layout for each stage and the variety of traps and monsters you can deploy. After a long cooldown period, you can even deploy the invincible Tyrant, a returning character from the Resident Evil series. Because the Tyrant can't be killed, using it will pretty much always guarantee you a few kills, slowing down your opponents and inflicting a time penalty on them. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Tyrant gets to be on the field for too long for things to be entirely fair, but Capcom is continuing to tweak the balance of the game, so this may not be an issue in the final version.
Project Resistance is shaping up to be a promising game, whether you're a diehard Resident Evil fan or not. Unless it has a story mode that delves into the Raccoon City setting, there doesn't seem to be any particular reason why it's got zombies or the Resident Evil branding. It's got violence in spades, but the horror aspects seem negligible. But the gameplay is fun, and that's really all that matters.