Title: Resident Evil Deadly Silence
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: DS
NA Availability: Retail
EU Availability: Retail
Block Usage: N/A
The first Resident Evil game is known for being an iconic start for the survival horror genre. Having come out 3 years before its would-be rival, Silent Hill, it introduced a zombie scenario that led to an interesting storyline along with an experience that made you pick your battles, conserve ammo, and even take a lot of risks with having a limited number of times you could save your progress. It went onward with that formula for four more titles before Capcom changed the direction in RE4.
The first Resident Evil is the very first horror game that I played and, coincidentally, the first horror game I reviewed for this site with the PS1 Classic, Resident Evil: Director’s Cut. It shaped my love for the franchise that still stands today with dozens of replays of 1, 2, and 4 along with infinite ammo saves for 4, 5, and Revelations 2 on both the Vita and PS4 and my recent acquisition and playing of Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles.
With reviews, I only have a single handheld Resident Evil left and this will also be the first time I’ve reviewed multiple versions of what is essentially the same base game. Remade for the Nintendo DS with various enhancements to the original on the PS1, here is my retro review of Resident Evil: Deadly Silence!
The story of the first Resident Evil needs no introduction for horror fans. In the outskirts of a Midwestern town in the United States (coincidentally in the same region of the country where I grew up and live), a series of bizarre murder cases have been reported. The Special Tactics and Rescue Squad, otherwise known as S.T.A.R.S., sends its Bravo Team to investigate, which leads to their disappearance as well as the events of Resident Evil Zero.
When Bravo Team doesn’t turn up, Alpha Team is sent after them, only to be attacked by vicious monster-like dogs in the forest. With their helicopter gone and monsters all around them, they retreat to a nearby mansion, only to walk into a trap-ridden house full of zombified humans, dogs, spiders, and more. As they head in further and search for their fellow comrades, they uncover a plot that would spark the starting point of the entire series, all down to a single company.
The story of the first Resident Evil had a lot of good moments, but aside from the HD Remake, it is best known for having cheesy-bad lines and just-as-comical voice-work. If you didn’t experience this kind of voice-acting back when these games first came out, you’re in for a very awkward and comical treat. The infamous “Jill Sandwich” joke began with this game.
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence is an enhanced port of the original Resident Evil. Since it plays the same way the original did, this is a 3D survival horror game with puzzle elements thrown into the mix. You will be constantly exploring areas, shooting and knifing down enemies from time to time, and collecting items to use to solve puzzles to open new paths.
The main differences between this and the original game are the inclusion of a “Rebirth Mode”, local Multi-Player, and touch-based gameplay additions. The most unique of these new features is the touch-oriented gameplay. Since that will be tied in with Rebirth Mode, I’ll talk about both of those together in a moment.
There are two ways of playing the game, Original Mode and Rebirth Mode. Original Mode replicates the experience found in Director’s Cut, which is available for the PlayStation Vita as a PS1 Classic. Rebirth Mode is exclusive to the DS version of the game, with more enemies, more ammo, and hardware-based mini-games, puzzles, and battles.
These hardware mini-games are in the form of touch and microphone features. A lot of the puzzles that just required flipping a switch in the original game now have their own puzzles. For example, flipping the switch in the “Statue/Gas” room in the mansion now has you setting gems on a scale to achieve an equal balance to open up the area to the item hidden in the room. A lot of these are touch-based, but there are also a few that use the microphone, with you physically giving CPR to a certain comrade or blowing into the mic to blow out candles in a room.
The most fun to be had in the new features are the touch-based combat battles. Certain doors and rooms have a random chance of spawning a first-person knife fight when you enter the room. In these sequences, you will be armed with the knife and must fight off enemies running towards you. You use the touch screen to swipe or stab with the knife and you can either slash at will or slash just before an attack hits you to get a critical hit. This feature is also used for an exclusive and particularly-tense knife battle against Yawn, the giant snake boss.
The base game is the same as the past versions of the game. You will be running from room to room, collecting ammo and items to be used in puzzles and managing your storage through chests you find in various rooms. You also must find Ink Ribbon items in order to save your progress. Only having 3 Ink Ribbons means you can only save your progress 3 times unless you find more Ink Ribbons.
Combat is incorporated into the game, but not nearly as heavily as past titles. Since this is more of a survival game, ammo is very limited. If you want to have enough ammo for boss fights, you have to decide what you want to fight and which enemies you’d rather just run past. Getting ammo drops from first-person knife battles helps this, but you can’t just run and gun, especially towards the end when enemies in rooms start to respawn if you leave that room or hall for more than a minute or two.
The most strategic part of the game is what you take with you. Your inventory is extremely limited, so you have to store items in chests and choose what you want to take with you. If you need 4 crests to open the rear door of the mansion, you have to decide if you want to take them all at once, because that would leave you with only 2 remaining slots for weapons, ammo, and healing items. It’s all a big thought process and strategy, even for those like me that have played the game literally dozens of times over.
When you beat the game in Rebirth Mode without getting any of the bad endings, you can unlock the Master of Knifing Game Mode. This has you running through a gauntlet of first-person knife battles leading up to a boss. While this is a fun and challenging game in its own right, beating it with a high score will allow you to unlock a certain character for Multi-Player.
Speaking of, Multi-Player is a mode that you can use if you have a local friend with a DS, 2DS, or 3DS and a copy of the game. In Multi-Player, there are Versus and Co-Op Modes as well as a lot of unlockable characters to play as. In both, you’re fighting against enemies from the game as well as more powerful versions. For example, you could be fighting Hunters along with a larger Boss-level Hunter.
As far as time is concerned, it is a gamble on what you know versus what you don’t. When I first got Deadly Silence back in the DS/PSP gen, I played it almost 50 times right after one another (Yes, I love RE1 that much). Having not played the game in about a year or so, it took me about 4 hours to complete the game as Jill. There was some unneeded backtracking there, as the game can be completed in under 3 hours.
What I’d say is that if you’re like me and practically have the entire game engraved in your memory, it’ll take you 3-4 hours to beat it. If you’re new to the game, you can probably double that time if you’re not using a guide.
Since this is a DS game, there is no way to use the new buttons on the New 3DS while playing this game. ZL, ZR, and the C Stick will not be used. Most of the others will be, but you can’t use those extra buttons in Resident Evil.
As far as controls go, the D-Pad and Circle Pad can be used for walking, turning, and aiming your weapon in front, above, or below you. Then you have the L trigger for getting the knife out (a feature inspired from Resident Evil 4) and the R trigger for aiming your currently-equipped weapon. What the face buttons do depends on your control scheme. Control Type A has the A and Y buttons used for actions/shooting with B to be held for running. Control Type B has A and B for actions and Y for running. X is never used.
I can already here you readers saying it: Tank Controls! Yes, the game has tank controls. This means that if you want to turn to go to the right or left, you can’t just strafe or automatically go that way. You stop, manually turn, and then go forward again. This is something that added to the strategy/survival of these games but also one of the things that makes them not having aged well for newcomers.
The visual presentation was done in a very smart way. When you play DS games on the 3DS, the top screen is cropped in its original resolution, but the bottom screen is full-screen on the 3DS. Even on the XL models, it is stretched to fit full-screen. Any DS developers who made games where the game displayed on the bottom screen can give gamers a pretty nice experience on the 2DS/3DS.
Now about the actual visuals of Deadly Silence. It looks a little cleaner than the PlayStation version, which is a plus. The only bad part is that the DS version didn’t render CG scenes very well. Even on the DS, the famous first-zombie scene is a pixelated mess. All of the CG scenes are like that, so just know that’s how that is. Actual gameplay looks nice, though, considering they are tuned PS1 graphics.
Now about the performance. Load times are near-non-existent, which is great, and another thing is that the door opening sequences can be skipped. While these did add to the tension of what was in the next room, it’s very convenient to be able to skip them.
The frame-rate is what I have an issue with. Almost the entire game runs really well. However, when you get to that Guardhouse section where you’re running through water, you slow down but so does the frame-rate. Everything slows down to a chug. At first, it may look like it’s just the built-in water physics, but it doesn’t take long to realize it’s the game having a hard time running on the DS.
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence is arguably the definitive Non-HD version of the first Resident Evil. Tank controls, pixelated cinematics, and frame drops bring it down, but the additions make it a must-have game for any fan of classic RE.