Resident Evil: Genesis turns the clock back on to the initial zombie breakout in Raccoon City. As Jill Valentine, your STARS team is sent to investigate and recover another missing search and rescue party. Upon arriving on the scene, Valentine’s team is attacked by those oh so infamous zombie dogs and the survivors are sent fleeing into a mansion. Yes – that mansion.
Genesis is an isometric action-adventure game. Most of the time, you’ll be wandering around looking for keycards and other tidbits of information that will help advance the game. The items, however, can be stored pretty much everywhere which means you’ll have to bump up against and literally check every nook and cranny on the screen. See a row of ten cabinets? You better check all of them. Collected items will sometimes have to be combined at a later juncture to do different things. For example, after collecting enough items to make a bomb, you’ll have to find a lighter to ignite the bomb.
All the item searching and exploration wouldn’t be so bad if Valentine moved faster in the game. That’s because the isometric design divides movement into individual grid squares. It’s almost like a turn-based strategy game. You can use the left and right keys to turn Valentine around. However, to move her forward you have to press the 8 key. This takes some getting used to as most games have controls that are relative to the screen and not the character. If this sounds like a pain in the rear end during the adventure sequences, it gets even worse for the action parts. Using the same principles, you’re going to have to move a targeting reticule over the person you want to shoot. Once you do that, the game freezes and a timed bar pops up where you have to press the 5 key at the correct time (kind of like timing to kick a football, or shoot a hockey puck in a sports game). That kills one enemy. Now you have to move the target to the next thing you want to shoot. It all but promotes you to wait till the zombies are within one or two square blocks of you because if you take a long shot, you’ll be pressing those buttons for quite awhile to get the zombie who’s about to jump you from behind. I can’t think of a more frustrating way to conduct combat.
Genesis follows many of the traditional Resident Evil motifs. There is some sort of betrayal happening in the middle of the game. You get to learn more about the T-virus and the Umbrella corporation. And there is at least one boss battle at the end you’ll have to win to finish the game.
Genesis was built from ground up for the mobile platform. It seems part of this involved trying to cram as much as they could into one screen. This makes it impossible to appreciate any detail in the characters themselves and even the environments are a little spartan from the distance it is displayed.
Ultimately, I found Genesis to be too rigid to be fun. Interestingly, a walkthrough is posted on the Capcom Mobile site in case you get stuck. And yes, you can get stuck pretty easily if you don’t have the patience to go over everything with a fine toothed comb. The near asinine controls are going to drive a lot of people away from the game. But if you’re patient enough, the game does feature some meaty dialogue that is classic Resident Evil. Sadly, that means you have to play through the dysfunctional combat and put up with the controls and the exploration puzzles to get to read all of it.