Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares
One of the biggest complaints leveled at Resident Evil 5 was that it wasn’t scary. It’s certainly debatable just how scary dogs jumping through windows and corny dialogue are from the games of yore, but there’s no question that RE5 skewed heavily towards action rather than horror or any sort of genuine suspense. Lost in Nightmares is the first downloadable episode for RE5 and comes at the price of 400 Microsoft Points.
This episode takes place during the Spencer mansion incident where Chris and Jill become forcibly separated by Wesker, narrated as a memory by Chris in the main campaign. Strangely, rather than insert Lost in Nightmares into the main game, it’s separated into the Extra Content option so it feels a tad disconnected from Chris and Sheva’s adventures in Kijuju. Any of the bonuses or weapons you’ve accumulated over your hours of playtime won’t be making an appearance either, and the only feature unlocked at the end is the ability to play as Jill.
Essentially it’s a big homage to the classic Resident Evil formula. In-jokes are spread on thick and Capcom is being as self-aware as possible. The Spencer estate mimics the layout and atmosphere from the first Resident Evil; it’s a lonely mountainside mansion with a gothic aesthetic and a storm brewing just outside. Crank handles and pass codes need to be gathered to open doors and journal entries are just lying around—one of which contains the infamous “Itchy. Tasty.” line. Ammo no longer flows like wine and every shot must count. There’s even an option to trade the over-the-shoulder viewpoint to the classic camera style which is just as awkward and clunky as it was when it was first introduced.
The problem with all these shout-outs is that much like any piece of intentional camp, a lot of it falls flat and doesn’t feel the least bit genuine. What made the stilted dialogue and overblown dramatics funny was that they were done without a hint of self-awareness. Doing it on purpose just feels like a nudge-nudge, wink-wink at fans sure to cause groans instead of cheers. The absolute nadir happens when Jill has to play Moonlight Sonata again and any player unfortunate enough to be stuck as her will grow tired of the button-pressing sequence that goes on for far too long.
A majority of the episode is spent roaming around the mansion and solving puzzles that are the standard fetch quests. Conserving your ammo is easy enough because there aren’t any Majini or classic zombies to deal with for that matter. The only enemies you need to worry about are the Guardians of Insanity: hooded monstrosities that carry massive anchors. They’re essentially palette swaps of the Executioner Majini and without any crowds to deal with they don’t pose much of a threat. Even during the sequence where Chris and Jill are stripped of their equipment it’s quite easy to take them down. The only actual challenge posed is yet another fight with Wesker, a boss battle bereft of enjoyment that was rehashed far too many times in RE5 and one of the lamest examples of a boss fight you’re supposed to lose.
What’s probably going to draw people to this download is the addition of the Mercenaries Reunion mode. Unfortunately, there aren’t any new levels and you have to unlock them all from the beginning. There are some slight differences in the levels—more enemies are on-screen at a time and some of them have been remixed into different levels—but otherwise they’re identical. Mercenaries is just as much fun and similar as it was originally.
Your objective is to kill as many enemies as you can, chaining the kills together for extra points while trying to keep the timer filled. The two new characters included are S.T.A.R.S. operative Barry Burton and evil femme fatale Excella Gionne. Each has a unique set of weapons and melee attacks—Barry is more of a heavy-hitter with a head-butting move that more often than not results in decapitation and Excella relies on automatic weaponry mixed with slaps and heel-stomps that exemplify just how much of a snobby prima donna she is.
Lost in Nightmares clocks in at about an hour and much like the rest of RE5, you only get the optimal experience when you’re playing with a human partner. It certainly isn’t an awful piece of downloadable content, but it isn’t going to completely satisfy fans seeking a glorious return to all things pre Resident Evil 4. There’s no compelling reason to download this episode by itself—and this limp-wristed return to horror leaves a lot to be desired.