Do you ever wish that you could return to the mansion where the legacy of the T-virus began, but with the updated graphics, teamwork, and fast gameplay of Resident Evil 5? I do. Lost in Nightmares comes dangerously close to bringing the dream to fruition, but the downloadable episode zig-zags between old- and new-school without ever finding a stable middle-ground to plant its foot.
Preceding Jill Valentines disappearance, as seen in Resident Evil 5, Chris Redfield and Jill approach the mansion of Umbrellas founder on a mission for the BSAA. Even without the dogs nipping at their heels, groan-worthy cutscenes, or the classic master of unlocking line, the situation teems with nostalgic familiarity. The mansion is not the one destroyed in Raccoon City, but appearances are very deceiving. The blood-stained foyer, the fireplace of the dining room, and the infamous dog-hallway are present to greet you. Moonlight Sonata even makes a comeback on the piano. The first thing I did was look for a typewriter, but to no avail.
Its difficult to determine whether Lost in Nightmares is trying to recapture the old spirit of Resident Evil, or forge a path of its own. The stage is set for full-on fan service, so imagine my surprise when no dogs leapt through the window and no zombie rose from its cranial meal to stare at me through cold eyes. As expected, there are plenty of passwords to collect and medallions to mount, but the puzzles lack any significant amount of challenge find a crest and stick it on the only locked door in the room. Teamwork plays a vital role, but its worth is determined by your mode of play. Playing cooperatively, your life depends on good communication and fast reflexes. Solo, your teammate is little more than a set of hands for turning cranks.
Jill and Chris venture into the dilapidated underbelly of the compound after a very brief stint in the mansion. Slimy masses of tendrils, giant spiders, and other viral monstrosities could attack at any moment, but never do. Except for three feeble zombies, your only opponents are a handful of pike-toting, malformed behemoths (i.e. palette-swapped Executioner Majini). They can eat a lot of bullets, especially on Veteran, but their lumbering gaits pose little threat without hordes of Majini clawing at your back. In fact, I bypassed what should have been some of the games most dramatic moments by running past the giants and skipping battles altogether. What can I say? I like to conserve ammo.
Excella and one of the series most beloved side-characters, Barry, join the ranks of Mercenaries with their own loadouts. Barry likes his handguns, while Excella prefers the speed of semi-machineguns and a pimp-slap. Before you get too excited, you should know that this is actually Mercenaries Reunion. It has the same eight maps, but now you get the regrettable honor of unlocking them all over again. You will notice that there are six silhouetted characters waiting to be revealed, but they dont come with Lost in Nightmares. Two slots are reserved for the next episode, and the other four must be purchased as a Costume Pack.
Lost in Nightmares is saturated with the ominous environments and foreboding sounds that Resident Evil 5s sunny landscapes and sterile laboratories often lacked, but doom and gloom are only effective when there is something to be feared. I like the concept of returning to the mansion (or its doppelganger) with a new emphasis on teamwork, and I like the two additions to Mercenaries, but there isnt enough substance in action, storytelling, nor the puzzles to make Lost in Nightmares stand out. The generously estimated 90-minute length will make sure of that.