Resident Evil 3 releases today. The action-packed reimagining of 1999’s Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a nonstop zombie blasting thrill ride. If that action wasn’t enough, there’s more in the form of Resident Evil Resistance. It’s a multiplayer monster mash where four players try to escape from another player who can spring traps and summon zombies. It’s rough around the edges, but when the pieces fall into place, it’s a damn unique multiplayer experience.

The Resident Evil series has had a mixture of action-focused modes and co-operative experiences for a while now. Resident Evil 5’s story campaign can be enjoyed with two players, and side modes like Resident Evil 4’s “Mercenaries” mixed arcade shooting with intense survival. The online multiplayer games often took a different path. 2003’s Resident Evil Outbreak was an online PlayStation 2 title that used a traditional approach with old-school campaigns and virus infection mechanics. There hasn’t really been an online game like Resident Evil Resistance, which pits a group of survivors against a single mastermind. The goal is simple enough: escape from a hell house of monsters and traps. What helps Resistance shine is how much control the villainous player has to drop in monsters on the fly or sabotage survivors in the heat of the moment.

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Masterminds use a series of surveillance cameras to scan through rooms and remotely trigger obstacles to stymie survivors’ escape attempts. That can be as small as locking a few doors here and there. It can also mean summoning waves of zombies and other monsters to rise from the shadows and attack other players. If masterminds really want to get their hands dirty, they can leap into a zombie’s perspective and control them directly. Survivors party up and use their unique skills to break through zombies, find keys to an exit, and slip away into the night. Each character has special abilities. For instance, players looking to beat up zombies can play as Samuel, a former boxer with a quick dash punch and a powerful fist fighting frenzy ability where they can buckle down and toss hands at the horde. Meanwhile, edgy hacker January can disable cameras and make it harder for the mastermind to track players. The result is a unique multiplayer experience where teamwork is essential.

When all of these pieces come together, Resident Evil Resistance is a blast. Mixing survivor teams and scrounging for weapons together is intense. It’s half room escape, half science experiment. Like mice running through a maze, survivors dash through rooms to grab ammo and find keys to unlock exit doors. Playing with a well-coordinated team is a special kind of treat, one that most multiplayer games struggle to deliver. You really do feel like a ragtag group of survivors winning out against impossible odds. The structure can get repetitive. Run here, find keys, blast monsters, repeat. But Resistance is able to shake things up enough that each new round offers surprises. Is a room packed with snares? Is it quiet because a more powerful creature is incoming? You never quite know what a mastermind will do.

In spite of this, Resident Evil Resistance’s core concept does run into some hurdles. As I played these last few days, my connections to matches were sometimes shaky. This caused moments where masterminds or other players were fighting the servers more than each other and made matches feel inconsistent. Sometimes, it felt like victory wasn’t a result of clever thinking but simply a matter of who had a more reliable connection.

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Illustration for article titled iResident Evil Resistance/i Is A One-Of-A-Kind Multiplayer Game

Even when this isn’t a problem, matches sometimes feel lopsided. From time to time, skilled masterminds completely kicked my teams’ collective ass. Bouncing back from early setbacks is difficult in Resistance; every misstep takes seconds off a timer. When it hits zero, survivors instantly lose. While plenty of matches were anxious back-and-forth survival struggles, I’ve played a fair share where it felt hopeless for survivors.Resistance has a progression system where playing as a character unlocks ability- and skill-altering item slots, so it’s often unclear what skills other players have access to. Because of that, it’s hard to know exactly where the imbalances are, but there’s a sense that something is out of tune. As much as Resistance works when the pieces click, it feels like shit when the car comes off the rails.

I haven’t really played a game that delivers what Resistance does. Other multiplayer horror games like Friday the 13th have similar concepts—survivors versus a killer—but the intensity is higher here. It really does feel like you’re caught in an Umbrella Corporation death trap. I don’t know if the charm will wear off or if the player base will last, but these first few weeks seem like prime time to enjoy a clever multiplayer experience. It’s shaky sometimes, but Resistance is a welcome addition to the Resident Evil catalogue.

Former Senior Writer and Critic at Kotaku.

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