This article contains light spoilers for Security Booth and Security Booth: Director’s Cut in its discussion of how it complements ideas from Resident Evil.
Forget Resident Evil: Resistance or Resident Evil: Dead Aim – Resident Evil: Some Guy is the spinoff the series needs. Because ever since I played Security Booth, I’ve been craving a Resident Evil game where you’re the little guy. In fact, slap a Resident Evil logo on this indie horror game and you’re almost there.
If you’re scratching your head, wondering what the hell Security Booth is and what it’s got to do with Resident Evil, you’re missing out on one of the smartest indie horror games of late. It casts you as a security booth attendant, charged with letting people into a corporation’s research complex. Or you can turn them away, if they’re not on your list of approved visitors.
Naturally, things go horribly wrong at the lab, with potentially world-altering consequences. Sound familiar? Nova Nexus is, going by the catastrophe that it’s unleashing, only marginally more competent than the Umbrella Corporation. So when bloody handprints appear on your booth, you know something’s not right.
But you’re not Jill Valentine, picking her way through the aftermath of the disaster, clad in infection-resistant plot armor. You’re not even Albert Wesker; you’re just some poor sap who’s experiencing the ripples of whatever Nova Nexus’s (probably) underground lab is brewing up.
In other words, you’re the kind of also-ran who meets a gruesome fate shortly after leaving a curiously detailed diary or scrawling a four-digit locker combination on a whiteboard. You know, the kind of long-deceased NPC that the player isn’t supposed to give a second thought to.
Except I have found myself giving them a second thought, at least as far as Resident Evil is concerned. Take the Keeper for example, whose diary, famous for its “Itchy. Tasty,” line, provides an account of the incident that led to Resident Evil’s Spencer Mansion outbreak. The diary is meant to fill in the plot, but I found myself wanting more. Much more.
Sure, Resident Evil is a good game, but you’re just picking through the aftermath. I wanted to be in that researcher’s shoes, feeling his unease when he was asked to feed live animals to something that looked like a skinned gorilla. I’d know in advance that he wasn’t going to survive whatever Umbrella had inadvertently unleashed, but I’d experience the disaster as it happened. That, to me, is just as interesting as anything S.T.A.R.S. got up to.
Over time, however, I stopped thinking about it. I was never going to be Marvin in Resident Evil 2. And yes, Half-Life’s Gordon Freeman started off as “some guy,” but by the time Half Life 2 rolled around, he was a legend.
But when I fired up Security Booth, all that came flooding back. There I was, Joe Average, watching, or rather feeling, events unfold from a distance. Even before you feel the thrum from whatever portal Nova Nexus has thrown open, Security Booth instills a real sense of unease in you.
It’s not compulsory to interact with the drivers you let in, but doing so makes it apparent that something big is happening. Then the radio starts crackling and the tension builds — when the first handprint appears, you’re already on edge.
Your actions do have an impact on your own fate, but you can’t prevent some kind of calamity from occurring. You’re not Chris Redfield; you’re the guy who opens the gate and watches Security Booth’s Chris Redfield analogue drive past. The powerlessness is simultaneously unsettling and liberating.
It’s these sensations I want from a Resident Evil spinoff, which is why Capcom should give Security Booth developer Kyle Horwood a call. The game’s bonus content takes you inside the complex, which is equally chilling, so Horwood’s expertise isn’t limited to just car parks.
I still don’t want to see the Umbrella Corporation crop up in Resident Evil 9, but I’d pay good money to be able to step back in time to play the little guy in Resident Evil 1 – 3. Resident Evil 2’s Ghost Survivor stories, though they were “what if” stories, were a hint of what Capcom could deliver. The same is true of the tapes you discovered In Resident Evil 7 and a couple of chunks of that game’s DLC.
Let me be the low-level researcher who spends his days poring over lab results or sweating over a hot centrifuge, while Umbrella’s William Birkins are crafting nightmares hundreds of feet beneath him. Maybe, after hearing the rumors that leak out from the lower lab, he’s on the verge of quitting — he just needs to find a job that will cover his daughter’s health insurance.
He’s still thinking that when the alert sounds, and he, or rather you, decides to flee the lab before whatever Umbrella has cooked up spreads — if it’s not already seeping through the vents. You’ve remembered where you put that stupid horse’s head key, right?
Resident Evil: Some Guy, Umbrella Stories, or whatever Capcom deigned to call it wouldn’t even need to be that long, maybe an hour or two. Let’s face it — you’ve got a good idea how their story is going to end. But Security Booth proves that there’s real mileage in being a nobody, and if Resident Evil can follow suit, Capcom wouldn’t be able to take my money fast enough.