Resident Evil 5’s Lost in Nightmares sub-chapter is essentially a love letter from Capcom to the most die hard of RE fanatics, signed sealed and delivered with a firm stamp of nostalgic approval. Have no illusions; Lost in Nightmares is a totally disparate beast from the main adventure, replacing the sun-baked, dusty locales and frantic action with the ominous corridors of a secluded European mansion overrun with fiendish traps and elaborate riddles.
Lost in Nightmares is based entirely on the flashback segment at the Spencer Mansion seen in the main game. Set in 2006, the mission has BSAA chums Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine infiltrating the dusty abode in order to apprehend the elusive Umbrella CEO in hopes of extracting info out of him on the whereabouts of blonde-haired antagonist, Albert Wesker. Predictably, Spencer’s crumbling estate is modelled heavily on the mansion from the original 1996 survival horror classic, coating the proceedings in a fine nostalgic glow that is positively oozing atmosphere. Thunder and lightning hammer away at the night sky, illuminating corridors and casting shadows all over the shop, while portraits of Spencer himself – who bares a curious resemblance to Star Wars’ emperor Palpatine – stand proudly amidst the cobwebs and cracks, emitting an almost patriarchal glow. Meanwhile, the underground catacombs play host to some grim discoveries, with corpses and claret sprawled all over the place amidst the unearthly growls of the hideous beasts you’ll find yourself up against.
The gameplay fundamentals remain identical to the main game, though it becomes abundantly clear that ammunition and healing items are nowhere near as prevalent as you’d expect. For the first half of the adventure you’ll mostly be solving riddles and gathering clues, evoking some classic Resident Evil memories of backtracking about the place, rushing from the spot to the other and inserting that vital emblem/key into its rightful place allowing you to access new areas. Scraps of diaries are also dotted throughout the spooky estate rooms and halls, detailing unscrupulous activities that Spencer advocated here prior to your arrival, although while these prove a compelling read, they don’t really get to develop into anything substantial, rather merely hinting at numerous sub-plots. Still, it’s intriguing enough to warrant interest, providing Capcom decides to expand upon them.
Things switch up a gear as Redfield and Valentine proceed in to the underground catacombs, where you’ll find yourself up against legions of hulking monstrosities not too dissimilar from the axe-wielding executioner from RE5’s village. These guys soak up an alarming amount of ammo, and things are exacerbated further by the claustrophobic surroundings you find yourself in while facing off against them. As such, co-op play is particularly useful here, allowing you to formulate an effective strategy for taking the beasts down. Otherwise, your AI partner does an adequate job, though at times we found they got directly in our line of fire due to the restrictive nature of the narrow halls. You’ll also encounter a couple of reanimated corpses, though don’t get your hopes up – these aren’t the classic zombie foes by any stretch of the imagination, given that they don’t actually harm you at all. Instead, they merely grab you in an attempt to slow you down, but are easily dispatched with a swift kick to the chops or knife swipe. The biggest shortcoming, unsurprisingly, is the length of the campaign – RE veterans should be able to breeze through it in an hour or so. Still, you get what you pay for, and at a measly $4.99, you can’t really complain.
Despite these minor quibbles, Lost in Nightmares is an absolute gem. The amalgamation of substantial puzzle segments, combat and exploration offers cohesive, thrilling ride from start to finish, and proves, unequivocally, that Capcom have the stones to return to the classic RE mould while retaining fresh elements such as over-the-shoulder viewpoint, melee attacks and co-op mechanics. The best of both worlds. Meanwhile, the voice actors from the main game return to reprise their roles once more, and while we would have liked to see a little more banter between Redfield and Valentine, the pair does a convincing job nonetheless, and there’s some amusing ramblings to be heard during the first few minutes. The accompanying music score complements the spooky halls and bloodstained catacombs admirably, creating an inexorable knot of tension in your gut that typically culminates in some grusome beast crashing through a brick wall.
Overall, while horribly short, Lost in Nightmares is a worthy extension to an already meaty experience, and one that long time fans will surely appreciate as you soak up the sumptuous locales and intruiging puzzles. While it's a far cry from the action-orientated antics of the main game, Lost in Nightmares is a gripping adventure from start to finish that is sure to have you reaching for a fresh pair of underwear at every corner. Unmissable.
-The Final Word-
An immersive, cinematic experience that excels in atmosphere, scares and exploration. It might prove a bit of a culture shock for those used to the action-orientated antics of RE4/5, however.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|