The Resident Evil franchise has been horrifying gamers for two and a half decades now, and the recent release of Resident Evil Village saw this trend continue in style. But despite Resident Evil‘s continual innovation leading to fresh horror experiences, the series may never reach the peak of gaming horror it managed with Resident Evil 2.
Resident Evil 2’s Tyrant, Mr. X inspired a fear within gamers that very few games have managed to emulate since. Mr. X was a towering, near-human abomination that stalked the player for the majority of their playthrough of Resident Evil 2. While the series has played host to a number of Tyrant’s since, very few have managed to match the overwhelming sense of dread Mr. X is capable of inspiring. Resident Evil Village’s Lady Dimitrescu comes close, but she ultimately falls short of Mr. X’s lofty heights, metaphorically at least.
Why Is Resident Evil 2’s Mr. X So Scary?
A number of factors contribute to the abject horror of encountering Mr. X in Resident Evil 2, but the sound design is possibly the greatest factor. The experience of hearing the ominous footsteps of Mr. X shortly followed by the introduction of his chase music is enough to make the player’s hair stand on end. Even detached from the knowledge that Mr. X’s appearance spells bad news for the player’s character, everything about this auditory experience signals imminent danger. Resident Evil 2’s combination of aggressive, yet perfectly spaced footsteps and chaotic chase music, interspersed with loud knocking and high-pitched scraping elicits a feeling of anxiety, even when detached from the in-game horror.
The setting of Resident Evil 2 is another key factor that makes Mr. X’s presence truly terrifying. Resident Evil 2 is set mostly in Raccoon City’s Police Department, RPD, which is filled with dark corridors and the zombified remains of everyone in and around the station at the time of the zombification. It has many linear areas, and the majority of them are dimly lit, triggering the player’s primal fear of the dark. Adding the infected to this equation makes navigating through RPD not only terrifying but very difficult. Mr. X’s fast walk feels almost inescapable at times due to the maze-like nature of the Police Station combined with the ever-growing populous of progress-halting infected. Later Resident Evil games have failed to match RE2’s setting in this regard.
Lady Dimitrescu Vs Mr. X
Resident Evil Village’s Lady Dimitrescu comes the closest to matching the feeling of terror Mr. X instills within the player. While Nemesis comes from the same era as Mr. X and resembles him more closely than the likes of Lady Dimitrescu, he feels like less of an ever-present threat as the player encounters him much less often. Lady D replicates the presence Mr. X has in Resident Evil 2, allowing the player little room to breathe when exploring her castle. In this respect, she’s a lot closer to equaling the level of horror Mr. X induces in the player.
Lady Dimitrescu has the monstrous size of Mr. X and then some. While Mr. X looks like a huge human, Lady Dimitrescu has a serious case of gigantism, and the claws to match. Lady Dimitrescu’s height is caused by the same parasite that gave her all of her abilities, many of which make dealing with Mr. X look like a walk in the park in comparison. It’s hard to dispute the viewpoint that Lady Dimitrescu on paper is a more intimidating foe than Mr. X, but for many, Mr. X still takes the horror villain cake.
Lady Dimitrescu’s human-like appearance is a large part of why she doesn’t invoke the same fear within the player. She is very close to a regular human in terms of looks and temperament, frequently allowing Ethan Winters to get under her skin. While seeing Lady D become enraged at moments in the game fills the player with fear, it reminds the player that there’s an air of human vulnerability beneath her tremendous height. Mr. X compared to Lady Dimitrescu is horrifying for his mild resemblance to a human form, but his distance from any kind of humanity.
The only way Mr. X expresses any sort of intent in the game is through the increasing tempo of his footsteps. Mr. X is so terrifying because of his calm and calculated nature. He has an animal-like reaction to seeing the player in the game, responding with actions rather than words. Mr. X really comes across as a killing machine only intent on weeding out the player and taking care of them. Lady Dimitrescu’s taunts add to her character, but in the same way, Mr. X’s inability to taunt adds to his, and it’s quite a horrifying, animalistic characterization.
Resident Evil Village is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
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