Spin-offs are tricky. They give developers the opportunity to explore popular IPs in new and exciting ways, but in doing so, the project can easily stray too far from a franchise’s core identity and anger fans. Capcom has run into some trouble in this regard with the Resident Evil series, as games like Umbrella Corps got lambasted by fans and critics alike. Undeterred, the company looks to press on with a brand-new game called Project Resistance – one that, on the surface, looks to deliver a more satisfying gameplay experience.
In short, Project Resistance is an online multiplayer spin-off set in Raccoon City. A group of people (“youths”, according to the game’s website) have been kidnapped by a mysterious entity known as the Mastermind to be the subject of experiments. These people, known collectively as Survivors, must make their way through rooms full of puzzles and find a way to escape. Matches consist of asymmetrical multiplayer spread across five players, with four players taking control of the Survivors and the fifth wielding the power of the Mastermind. In addition to the multiplayer offering, Capcom is promising an offline, single-player mode, though details about this are scarce.
Each Survivor falls into a different class of playable character. Samuel’s melee powers give him more robust combat options. Tyrone’s tank-life build can smash through doors faster and raise the team’s defenses. Valerie serves as a healer, and January can use hacking to mess with the Mastermind’s toolset and slow him or her down. The Mastermind, meanwhile, has many tools at their disposal to hinder the Survivors and keep them on their toes. They can set traps to poison or immobilize Survivors, summon zombies, even place and take control of machine gun turrets. In a particularly showstopping move, the Mastermind can summon and control the terrifying Mr. X, who in this game is a super-strong force that Survivors must contend with immediately. The farther the Survivors progress, the more chaos the Mastermind can throw at them, and the scenarios can get pretty intense.
Progress is primarily a race against the clock. An on-screen timer shows how long you have to escape; getting hurt or dying takes time off the clock, while completing objectives or advancing to the next room adds time back. If you run out of time, the Mastermind wins, with victory only coming for the Survivors if they manage to escape before the clock hits zero. For this to happen, coordinated team play is essential. Grouping together in one area is a great way to get yourself killed as the Mastermind throws traps and zombies galore in your path. Smart use of the hacker character is essential to disable these traps, and offensive characters must be positioned wisely to let the team handle incoming threats without getting overrun. It’s like beating an escape room with your friends, if the experience was gross and gory and genuinely life-threatening.
The end result is a tense little piece of survival gameplay. As part of the Survivors group, players are forced to communicate and cooperate to have any chance of surviving, and this can lead to fun moments as players freak out and laugh while trying not to get smothered in enemies. The Mastermind essentially serves as the evil puppet master of the match, using their limited resources to throw obstacles at the Survivors and figure out the best way to halt their progress in the moment. There’s a good deal of strategy and quick thinking involved with this role, and there’s fun to be had in trying out both sides of this experience.
There’s promise in the premise, sure, but there’s reason for that fact alone to give you pause. Players have seen similar situations before, where a game that shows potential in show-floor demo form turns out to be a major clunker on release. This exact scenario played out four years ago for Capcom, when the company drummed up immense hype for Umbrella Corps at NYCC only for it to crash and burn on release. Project Resistance shows more promise and polish, even at this early stage, but promise doesn’t always translate into sales or critical acclaim. How will this game fare? Only time will tell.
Project Resistance is currently in closed beta on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. No release date has been announced.