The Wee Things: Left Ajar – Resident Evil 2
As the idiom goes: When one door shuts, another opens. It means that with every lost opportunity comes a new. Yet with the release of Resident Evil 2’s remake, the door was metaphorically and literally closed on the literal doors I’ve based this ham-fisted intro upon.
When I first played Resident Evil 2 the doors were often a frustrating and methodical roadblock between the zombies and I. A frequent nuisance that interrupted what lay ahead and a reminder of the rather limited power behind consoles at the time. Never had I thought that they served more purpose than masking the load times of a new room and the enemies therein.
It’s only now, two decades later, I really started to appreciate the genius of the doors. I guess absence does truly make the heart grow fonder.
The purpose of the doors and their attached animations build suspense in the original. There is a slow build up as the door creaks open and you transition to the next room. It’s a commitment, of sorts. An absolute to which there is no clear outcome for first time players.
What lies on the other side is shrouded in mystery behind a frosted glass window or a solid frame. Contrasting this with the remake of Resident Evil 2; zombies batter and burst through the doors, windows are translucent, and the wait prior to opening a door is gone.
It’s a totally different experience at a totally different pace. Just like the fixed camera angles, the art of opening a door is now lost. Even the bleak outlook that accompanies the stark black outline of the door added weight. Juxtaposed with the colourful door, there’s an ominous feeling of despair and it’s all thanks to the framing.
Even the slow and deliberate swing of the door is a considered part of the design. It can represent the slow relief of making it a step further into the game, a moment to collect yourself, or the most tense moment of the game as you limp through only to find out the room is packed with enemies.
There’s nothing quite like it in modern gaming that jumps out. It’s not an aspect I ever really appreciated in its heyday, but now it’s no longer there I can’t help but miss it. It’s a wee thing. An important wee thing that should be remembered for what it represented, not what it was trying to hide.