Most of the critics agree: Resident Evil 6 is an overstuffed mess.
But what if there were more to it than that? Joseph Bernstein's enjoyable review at Kill Screen puts forth the (half-serious) idea that, given the protagonists' penchant for collecting and using crank(s), perhaps it's actually a game about drug addiction?
"The game is always asking: where is the crank?" Bernstein writes. "Can you use the crank in time? Can you avoid the monsters that are trying to keep you from using the crank?"
The game's operatic awfulness suddenly slides into focus. Of course the struggle of two junkheads to stay flooded with their junkie reality would be over-the-top, outrageous, nonsensical. The moment-to-moment gameplay often looks like this: rising tension as you look for the crank, fear that you will not be able to use the crank as you are assailed by zombies, then quiet relief and exploration after successful crank use.
The narrative that emerges from this reading is full of rich symbolism. One memorable set-piece involves trying to protect your partner from exploding Roombas. I imagined a pair of strung-out losers, terrified by the robot-vacuums they bought in a happier time while flush with dope money, terrified by the idea of cleaning up their lives.
Despite the fact that Bernstein has decided that the drug in question is heroin even though "crank" commonly refers to meth, the comparison is still pretty funny. Yes, this kind of review flies in the face of the more product-oriented reviews we usually see at other sites. And no, I don't believe that Bernstein is actually suggesting that the game was intended to be a drug-abuse parable.
But while it's something of a flight of fancy, the drug-addiction angle does say something valuable about the game: To Bernstein, Resident Evil 6 is a hectic mess of constant, nonsensical battles. Like drug addiction, the game is "a harrowing, endless, and unrewarding experience."
However you slice it, I'll probably be skipping Resident Evil 6. And hey, I'll also take a pass on that drug habit I've been contemplating trying out.