So a few days before writing this there was a report that apparently Capcom’s upcoming Resident Evil 3: Nemesis remake was going to shake up the classic Resident Evil formula by having its titular antagonist Nemesis the ability to chase the player character Jill Valentine in the in-game safe rooms, something that no other game in the series implemented. While it turns out this was a misreport from Official Xbox Magazine, the news of this potential detail had one reaction from the internet: pure and utter terror.
So much so that Nemesis was the top trending gaming tag with memes, people wondering if this was going to break the game, and others who were already excited for the game even more hyped, myself included. Despite this not being the case, many fans of the still excited for this upcoming remake as last year’s Resident Evil 2 remake was one of the best releases of 2019. What could make this upcoming release even more exciting is how Capcom is bringing back what made Resident Evil 3 a highlight of the franchise – Nemesis himself.
For those unaware, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, originally released on the PlayStation in 1999, follows the recurring series protagonist former-STARS officer Jill Valentine as she tries to both escape a T-Virus infected Raccoon City and stop the almost omnipresent pharmaceutical corporation, Umbrella as they were responsible for the viral outbreak. But she faces many obstacles in her journey of survival as not only she has to deal with the undead monstrosities of the T-Virus but is stalked by the game’s primary antagonist Nemesis.
Standing at over seven feet tall and armed with both heavy artillery and deadly tendrils, Nemesis is Umbrella’s ultimate B.O.W. (an in-universe term for Bio-Organic Weapon) who is on a mission to kill all surviving STARS members in order to remove any witnesses of the company’s illegal bioweapon experiments first seen in the events of the original game (to which Jill was on of the original protagonists). Now Jill has to battle against a terrifying monster hellbent in her death and nothing can seemingly stop him.
If one would look up Resident Evil 3 you can definitely see Capcom heavily marketed Nemesis in both promotional artwork, trailers, and even the box art. He was definitely a selling point as what made him relevantly unique amongst gaming monsters is he stalks the playing throughout the entire game at seemingly random points (though he does show up in many scripted moments). Once he begins chasing the player, he’s making a b-line straight for your ass. Even being able to chase the player across different rooms (something that was very new at the time of survival-horror games).
Plus when you have to deal with zombies and other monsters, Nemesis elevates that terror from a one to a ten in seconds. According to lead developer Shinji Mikami in an interview with Official Playstation Magazine, “I wanted to introduce a new kind of fear into the game, a persistent feeling of paranoia. The Nemesis brings that on in spades. When it disappears after the first confrontation, you live in constant dread of the next attack. The idea is to make you feel like you’re being stalked.” While other survival-horror games had reoccurring threats such as the Scissor Man from the Clocktower series and even Resident Evil II’s Mr. X, what made Nemesis so memorable is two things: design and gameplay.
From a design standpoint, Nemesis is one of gaming’s creepiest monsters. His height, dark almost medical leather clothing, and his malformed facial features make him a bio-weapon equivalent of the Terminator. In fact, the Terminator was a major influence for him during development, specifically the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He truly felt like this was what Umbrella’s bio-weapons research was heading towards, this organic machine design to kill anything in his way.
The sound design also worked in Nemesis’ favor as players would instantly know he’s around with his booming footsteps and his catchphrase “STARS”. And with his updated design in the remake, it’s clear his design still works but now given a modern update thanks to today’s technology. His leather coat is now a material like he came from a factory line and his David Cronenberg-esque features makes him just as creepy as ever.
Another aspect that made Nemesis so scary is that the game gives you the option to fight back. While one could argue this actually reduces the scares and other survival-horror games such as the aforementioned Clocktower series, Alien Isolation, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent have players only the option to run or hide from enemies, that is one half of our response from fear aka “fight or flight”. In RE3 the player has the two choices to fight off Nemesis and temporarily defeat him so the player won’t worry about him for some time, in doing so waste precious ammo which is not very abundant in this game; or run from him which in turn makes him much more reoccurring throughout the playthrough.
This adds much more fear and anxiety to the player as they now have to factor in the current situation and the future in a split-second decision. The developers also made sure to improve upon his AI to almost fool the player. Nemesis will appear at random and be a much tougher opponent than the usual zombie. Also, he has a goddamn rocket launcher!
All this care into Nemesis would be rewarded as he became almost a mascot to the series and one of gaming’s most beloved villains, landing him with a healthy amount of merch and other game appearances such as Marvel vs. Capcom. His influence on survival-horror can be seen in many games that tried to have their own Nemesis stand-in enemies such as the Xenomorph in Alien Isolation or The Hunter in Dead Space.
Capcom themselves would try (with various levels of success and failure) in having a Nemesis equivalent in future Resident Evil games such as the heavily revamped Mr. X Tyrant in the remake for RE2 that had him be a much more hostile enemy than just the lumbering hulk from the original game. And with the new release of Resident Evil 3 (2020), you can guarantee many players are gonna shit themselves when they hear the low grumble of “Stars…” behind them.