Review written by: cvxfreak


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DESPERATE ESCAPE REVIEW


Desperate Escape (DE) is Biohazard 5’s second downloadable chapter, following Lost in Nightmares (LiN). While LiN is an obvious throwback to the original Biohazard in terms of environment and pacing, DE sticks much closer to the main game, pairing a recently freed Jill Valentine and Josh Stone, who has returned after recruiting an escape chopper. Taking placing chronologically after Chapter 5-3 of the main adventure, Jill and Josh are tasked with catching up to Chris and Sheva in order to assist them in their showdown against Wesker.

Jill, who players will use first, plays exactly as she does in The Mercenaries. She is easily the fastest character in the game and very agile, using back flips and knee drops to finish enemies off. Jill’s speed and agility might remind players of Biohazard 4’s Ada Wong. Josh, who is available after beating the game once as Jill, is a slower powerhouse character, using his physical body strength to overwhelm stunned enemies. Compared to Chris and Sheva, they’re both equally competent agents who can hold their own in combat.

Jill begins the game with a Submachine Gun, while Josh begins with a Handgun, but of course, they can swap weapons at anytime, and there are more to be found throughout the stage. They can both use their Combat Knives as well, with Jill going for quick forward-stabs while Josh slashes enemies. At times, the enemy count is indeed overwhelming, so there is much tension to be felt in ways that I felt were lacking in the main adventure. There is no final boss, but a timed final showdown.

Progression of the game is quite similar to Chapter 4 of Biohazard 4’s Separate Ways. There are seemingly limitless numbers of Majini to face off against. Generally, a locked door must either be unlocked with a randomly-located key, unlocked from behind by giving Jill and Assist Jump, or literally blown up with conveniently placed, but enemy controlled canons. All of the mini-boss enemies from the main adventure return, such as the Chainsaw Majini or the Executioner, but they are slightly weaker and explode upon defeat. As in LiN, there are stars pieces to collect rather than money, which determine the amount of points you earn at the end of the scenaro.

Desperate Escape is considerably longer than LiN, and on par with the longer chapters of the main adventure. The chapter can be completed quickly if you speed through the game and ignore enemies, but that would defeat the purpose of this scenario, which is for heavy action more than anything. There are no puzzles to solve, underscoring the difference in direction between DE and LiN. Still, as with all Biohazard games, once you learn the game, it will begin to go by quickly. In that sense, DE can still be considered a bit short, but it is an inexpensive chapter at only ¥500 as downloadable content.

Lost in Nightmares was touted by Capcom as a chapter which “Respects Biohazard 1.” However, whether Capcom intentionally meant to or not, Desperate Escape also respects a previous Biohazard game: Biohazard 4. DE and Biohazard 4 share similar set pieces that made the latter game very memorable. Many complained that while Biohazard 5 played well and looked beautiful, the set pieces were nowhere near as memorable as its predecessor’s. Desperate Escape, like the main adventure, does borrow some elements from Biohazard 4 directly, such as blowing up large doors and being slammed with exploding canons, but I feel DE’s set pieces work so well because of the tension felt from the overwhelming enemies. Also, the name of the chapter certainly ties back to the subtitle of Biohazard 3. Whether Capcom explicitly intended for DE to honor Biohazard 4 is not clear, but signs point to it having been Capcom’s intention.

DE’s biggest weak point is its setting and environment. While LiN is meant to inspire moments of nostalgia with its Rebirth-inspired locations, DE’s locations are not exactly memorable. They look similar to the other industrial portions of the game, although some may be reminded of Chapter 5-3 (and Separate Ways Chapter 5) from Biohazard 4. There is nothing in DE that will make gamers stop to admire the locale, even for a few moments, while gamers may spend hours walking around LiN’s Spencer Estate to see what similarities they can catch. This decision was of course deliberate and necessary, so Capcom cannot be faulted too much for it.

Lastly, DE's production values are high and notable. LiN had no real ending cutscene and an FMV version of one of the main game's cutscenes, which was visibly of less quality. Desperate Escape contains a full introduction, well-done midpoint cutscenes, and then a satisfying ending. New gamers to Biohazard 5 may not realize that DE was developed long after the main game. Unlike LiN, which had very little new story elements, DE does add a plot point that was unknown to gamers before. This plot point, too, is a nod to Biohazard 4 in many ways.

Desperate Escape might very well end up being the favorite part of the complete Biohazard 5 package for many fans and gamers alike. It certainly has become my favorite segment of the game because it feels so much like the end of Biohazard 4 in terms of pacing and progression, and that was one of the best parts of that game. It is tragically short in a sense that I was left wanting more, especially since it has been a long time since Biohazard 3 (excluding Umbrella Chronicles). The Biohazard fans that have become disillusioned with the gameplay style introduced in Biohazard 4 will find nothing to like here, and should stick to LiN instead.

 



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