Nothing sticks in the mind like regrets. How many nights have I settled into bed, sleep mere moments away, only to be yanked away by memories of missteps? Should I have asked her out? Did I spend enough time with my grandfather before he died? Why didn’t I lie when they put me on the spot?
In my museum of regrets, one piece stands above all the others. A PlayStation disc, purchased used from a Hollywood Video, its black underbelly scratched…perhaps thrown in rage by its previous victims. On the front, a mutant’s joyless grin and the title Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
About nine or ten years old, and already with the first two games already under my belt, I went into it with the confidence of youth. Slowly, over the course of weeks, I was broken. Resident Evil 3 was more than I could handle.
Now, Capcom has announced a remake, and with it I have a chance to conquer the demons of my youth.
Slowly, over the course of weeks, I was broken. Resident Evil 3 was more than I could handle.
Armed with limited weapons and ammo, Resident Evil 3 (like its predecessors) tasks you with navigating a zombie outbreak, and some occasionally cruel camera angles, while foraging to keep your always-strained supplies from running out. Resource management is key. Do you try to run by that zombie down the alley, or shoot him with one of your ten remaining bullets, knowing you might not find more for a while?
RE3 added a new wrinkle. The eponymous Nemesis, a hulking zombie that pursues you throughout the game. Although RE2 had experimented with a similar figure — a bald, trench coat-clad fellow known as Mr. X — Nemesis took the idea to new extremes.
He was relentless. Anywhere you went, he could appear, whether leaping through a window or politely opening a door behind you, hissing the word “Stars” (his goal is to kill every members of the S.TA.R.S. police unit, including protagonist Jill Valentine). Like a big, patchwork Sting, he’s watching every move you make.
I know what you’re thinking. Big zombie? Just outrun him! You would be wrong. Like a young Shaq, Nemesis is built like a tank but moves with the speed of a gazelle, and he wants to dunk your skull into the pavement. He’s immortal, too. Go ahead and empty your whole arsenal into him. The best you’ll do is knock him down for awhile.
Resident Evil 2 built up my resistance to the series’ shambling zombies and brutish grotesques, but I wasn’t prepared for Nemesis. The atmosphere of constant paranoia was too much for my young heart to take. Hunted ceaselessly, I was forced to confront inevitability itself, the realization that time and the universe would move on no matter how I struggled.
Fleeing from Nemesis, I understood for the first time that I was mortal. One day my skin will sag, my bones will crumble, and I will be only so much dust scattered across a tiny slice of the cosmos.
I never beat Resident Evil 3. Although I put the game down, Nemesis didn’t stop pursuing me. His cold gaze is reflected in every unfinished project, every failed New Year’s resolution, every night spent staring out the window, glass of whisky in hand, as Moonlight Sonata creeps out of my speakers.
Fleeing from Nemesis, I understood for the first time that I was mortal.
Whenever I’m asked my greatest weakness, I bite my lip, resisting the urge to confess that I am forever haunted by my failure to beat Resident Evil 3. “Um,” I stammer instead, “I guess I just work too hard.”
So, when rumors began to swirl that Capcom was working on a remake of RE3, I felt my pulse quicken, a cold tide of sweat chilling me as I thought of seeing my old foe once again. This time in high definition.
But I’m not a child anymore. I can’t live in the past. Life rarely gives you a second chance, a shot at redemption, but that’s what I might find with the return of Resident Evil 3. I’ve been hardened by the travails of adulthood, by hours of fleeing from the upgraded Mr. X in 2019’s Resident Evil 2 remake.
I’ll be waiting, Nemesis. This time, I’ll be ready.
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