Escapism might not be at the top of the list when it comes to why you should play Resident Evil 3, especially in current circumstances.
For a lot of us, video games are one of the best forms of escapism. No matter what might be going on in your actual life, games can often provide a means of distraction that allow you to, perhaps only for a few hours at a time, forget about everything else and just focus on the world you’re inhabiting. This is something that I personally leaned on a lot last year when Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice ended up launching.
Now, Capcom’s remake of Resident Evil 3 is set to arrive later this week but it might be coming at the most inopportune time possible. As the world is grappling with the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Resident Evil 3‘s narrative that is centered around, ya know, the spread of a virus, makes for a downright strange gameplay experience.
To make this clear up front, what is happening in our real world with the spread of COVID-19 is obviously very different from Resident Evil‘s T-virus pandemic. Even though the coronavirus is a sickness that is absolutely worth taking seriously, it’s still a far cry from what’s taking place in Resident Evil 3. Our real world doesn’t have streets filled with zombies, gargantuan tank-like creatures aren’t bursting through walls to attack us with tentacles, and no cities around the world are in danger of being blown up. These situations are absolutely night and day.
Still, as someone who has already played Resident Evil 3 to completion, it’s very hard not to frequently be pulled out of the experience with what you might see or hear during the game. This is perhaps no more jarring than during RE3‘s opening cutscene which features a variety of news reports detailing the spread of the T-virus pandemic in Raccoon City. Seeing people presented on-screen talking about how the pandemic is running rampant and that the CDC is scrambling to try and combat the disease is almost a little too on-the-nose. It sounds extremely similar to what you might be hearing on your own TV nowadays.
Over the course of the experience, there are also many other pieces of iconography and verbiage used that may callback to our own pandemic. You’ll run across civilians every now and then that are dealing with the pandemic in different ways, even though none of them had hoarded away toilet paper, from what I could see. Raccoon City being essentially burned to the ground as you play through RE3 also may not remind you of anything we’ve seen around the world recently, but it also sure will plant ideas in your head about worst-case scenarios in our current predicament.
Other than the game’s opening cutscene, likely the portion of Resident Evil 3 that will remind you most of what’s happening with COVID-19 will come about in the hospital section of the campaign. This area of RE3 mainly has you playing as Carlos as you go through the remnants of a destroyed hospital that at one point featured many T-virus patients. Gurneys and stretchers are littered throughout the halls and if you look closely enough, you can even find posters throughout the area encouraging people to wash their hands.
It’s not the visual aspect of the hospital itself though that may remind you of the coronavirus pandemic. There are some disturbing images that have come about from hospitals around the world (primarily those in Italy), none of them obviously look like what is portrayed here. Instead, what hits a bit close to home are the many notes and messages you’ll find scattered throughout this medical area.
Resident Evil 3 is filled with collectibles that sometimes feature journal entries and such from characters in the game’s world. While in the hospital, you’ll find many of these notes, primarily written from nurses and doctors that were at one point in the hospital. A few of these notes talk about how these medical workers feel an inherent obligation to continue working their hardest to combat the pandemic they’re experiencing. This doesn’t sound too dissimilar from messages and images that have gone viral on the internet in recent weeks. Again, it’s a completely different scenario in RE3 compared to what we’re all witnessing in real-time, but the parallels are stark.
There has been talk in some corners of the internet about whether or not Capcom should have outright delayed Resident Evil 3 given the circumstances. Even in light of everything I have said that makes RE3 a truly odd game to play right now, I cannot stress enough how much I disagree with this notion. While we’re living in a confusing, concerning time, Resident Evil 3 is still a video game at the end of the day, and it’s one that has a lot of enjoyment to offer.
If you’re still looking forward to playing Resident Evil 3 at launch, I would still completely recommend that you pick it up. As a longtime RE fan myself, I had a blast with the campaign and I imagine many others will love it as well. That said, if you’re diving into video games right now to escape from what’s happening in the real world, there are surely a whole lot of other titles you could spend your time with to more easily distract you. Even if what’s presented in Resident Evil 3 is extremely different from what we’re all living through right now, it’s quite a difficult game to play and not be constantly reminded of 2020’s most notable current event.