I am having more fun with Resident Evil Resistance than I feel comfortable admitting, considering B-movie action horror at its worst. Perhaps sprinting through corridors, dodging endless zombies and dogs tearing at my neck is just a guilty pleasure, but I'm having way more mindless fun with this co-op spin-off than I ever would have predicted.
The premise for Resident Evil Resistance is simple and sound: four players attempt a horrific gauntlet of zombies, bosses, traps, and puzzles, attempting to escape a facility in a given amount of time. A fifth player, posing as the "Mastermind" of the test watches through security cameras, spawning zombies, hazard traps, and other lethal hindrances to the four human players trying desperately to escape.
It's unbelievably chaotic. All four players regain consciousness in a safe room at the start of the game, stumbling around while whatever drugs Umbrella has injected into them wear off. Everyone runs to the item shop box, where you can spend Umbrella Credits to buy weapons, ammo, and items between rounds. I'm not really sure why Umbrella's giving its test subjects pocket money, but we'll go with it.
The second someone steps out of the safe room, shit hits the fan. A countdown timer of five minutes starts the minute your team is on their feet, and you're immediately given a task for the first round: find three keys within the local vicinity to unlock the exit. Let's get one thing straight: there is literally no teamwork between the comrades trying to escape. It's every man and woman for themselves, sprinting in different directions, screaming as they let off rounds into zombie faces in a panicked frenzy to get the keys as quickly as possible.
There's split seconds of downtime in between rounds. The entire process resets when you finish one round: you all enter a safe room, the countdown timer of death resumes once you're out of the animation of proceeding to the next area, and you have the chance to restock on ammo and supplies using Umbrella's very generous cash. And then the whole process reignites, the countdown timer breathing down your neck, and whoever left the safe room first is running headlong into the inevitable hordes of zombie dogs placed right outside. It's fun and funny, and I wouldn't have this trashy action any other way.
Oh, and there's a big bad boss lying in wait. At the start, the fifth player chooses to play as one of four cackling evil "Masterminds" from the Resident Evil series, including Annette Birkin and Albert Wesker. Each overlord has a corresponding boss character they can deploy to hinder the humans. Annette deploying William Birkin is a headache—the mutated scientist swings a big metal pipe around furiously, grabbing hapless survivors and slamming their heads into the ground repeatedly.
Bosses are fun and chaotic, but they're way too easy to spam at every stage of Resistance. Every boss character is on a countdown timer for the Mastermind player, but considering how much havoc they can wreak in such a short amount of time—the only way out of Birkin's head grab smash is to have a melee-focused character kick or punch him so hard he staggers back—they're usually insurmountable roadblocks for the human team.
Resident Evil Resistance also lets the Mastermind player warp into the body of any zombie they choose. There's no playing as a dog unfortunately, but you can temporarily possess a zombie and send them into Super Saiyan mode, thrashing at the humans with glowing red claws for a short spell. I have a love for weird Resident Evil, when Leon Kennedy suplexed zombies in Spain, or when Chris Redfield punched a boulder ten times the size of him into a lake of lava, and playing as a zombie on steroids fit perfectly alongside these moments.
The messiness is why I love Resident Evil Resistance. It's action-packed Resident Evil without any stakes. There's no counting your shots as you plug bullet after bullet into a zombie's face, worrying about sprinting back to the last safe room to restock on ammo. Because Resistance is strictly finite in its length of three rounds, caution is thrown to the wind, unlike in the accompanying Resident Evil 3 where you have to make each shot count.
At first I thought Resistance being bundled with Resident Evil 3 made no damn sense. I assumed it had been bundled as a multiplayer component to actually get people to play the thing, since it stood relatively little chance of drawing any interest on its own. Putting the two into one package makes so much sense in hindsight, because Resident Evil 3 and Resistance are a perfect tonal match for each other.
It's easy to look at Resident Evil 4, with all its suplexing and quick time events, and decide that's where Resident Evil truly went full action over horror. That's a bit of a misconception, because the Resident Evil 3 remake shows action taking hold over pure horror. The knife that Jill Valentine wields is the perfect embodiment of this: the knife no longer breaks like in Resident Evil 2 remake, letting you slash away at zombies as many times as you wish without having to manage its durability meter. There's ammo aplenty wherever you look; secondary protagonist Carlos starts off his chapter with well over 300 rounds for his assault rifle, for example.
Resident Evil 3 being the true point of putting action over horror for the series at large is why it makes perfect sense to be bundled with Resistance: they both prioritize action over horror. Resistance throws players into shooting galleries with enough ammo to fend off a small army, while Jill Valentine has a dodge move that allows for player-initiated slow motion sequences in Resident Evil 3. Both games are a tonally perfect fit for each other, and playing both Resistance and Resident Evil 3 with a carefree attitude makes both games a whole lot more enjoyable.
Resident Evil Resistance doesn't deserve to be written off as a failed experiment by Capcom. There's a surprising amount of fun to be had with the spin-off co-op shooter, however forgettable the minute-to-minute action might be. It's mindless Resident Evil, meant to be played in a very lackadaisical manner. For that, Resistance is the perfect companion to Resident Evil 3, a game that ultimately paved the way for the action-packed future of the series.