Originally launched in 2008, Useless House was EA’s sci-fi riff on 2005’s Resident Evil 4. It took the revolutionary design concepts of Shinji Mikami’s horror masterpiece – the over-the-shoulder perspective, tense crowd-control fight and zombies that weren’t actually zombies – and launched them right into a far-flung nook of the cosmos, switching virus-infected villagers for mutant alien necromorphs. The outcomes had been darkly thrilling, however couldn’t totally escape the sunshine of Resi 4’s incandescent star.
Fifteen years down the road, with a lot extra distance from Mikami’s recreation, Useless House is less complicated to understand by itself deserves. This overhaul, from EA studio Motive, is a surprisingly restrained affair, resisting the temptation to complement the sport with trendy adornments. As a substitute it streamlines the expertise, altering the structure of doomed spaceship the USG Ishimura in order that gamers might cross by means of it and its many horrors extra easily. It’s a remake that embraces the unique’s taut pacing and highly effective forward-momentum, and is all the higher for it.
EA’s Frostbite know-how has allowed Motive to inscribe higher element into the beleaguered mining ship, whereas rigorously preserving the unique’s industrial aesthetic and oppressive ambiance. The grisly gimmick of killing enemies by reducing off their limbs is now further gory, as house engineer Isaac Clarke’s weaponised engineering instruments strip chunks of flesh from necromorphs with each blast. Isaac now speaks, and though he says little of consequence, his pragmatic observations make extra sense than cussed silence. A extra impactful design change permits Isaac to drift freely through the recreation’s zero-gravity sections, serving to his temporary forays outdoors the Ishimura to face out.
A script rewrite provides a number of side-missions meant to flesh out characters akin to Isaac’s elusive girlfriend Nicole and the deranged Dr Mercer. The climactic plot twist has additionally been tweaked, though the general impact of the gut-wrenching finish reveal stays the identical. None of those narrative adjustments considerably improves issues – this recreation was by no means meant as an introspective character piece – however they don’t make it worse, both.
Useless House stays a breathless sci-fi rollercoaster: from the second the primary necromorph bursts from a ceiling vent and chases you into the Ishimura’s bowels, the sport wraps its claws round your adrenal glands and wrings them dry. It continually pushes you into escalating battles, demanding you dismember these twitching horrors with surgical precision. It additionally excels at protecting you in your toes, typically depriving you of sound, gravity, oxygen – generally all three – to accentuate fight.
And whereas its human protagonist could also be merely drawn, the Ishimura has character to spare. Every chapter focuses on a distinct operate of the ship, combining targets neatly themed round Isaac’s function as an engineer with thrilling sci-fi predicaments, akin to repairing the ship’s anti-asteroid defences whereas big house rocks threaten to crush you, or dislodging a large necromorph blocking the communications array. The place trendy blockbusters are sometimes weighed down by bloated worlds or predatory enterprise fashions, Useless House cuts proper to the short.