Resident Evil 2’s untold tales show that Capcom is the master of implicit storytelling

The Resident Evil 2 remake is a tremendous showcase of horror and disaster with its lovingly crafted recreation of the original game. Leon and Claire’s flight from the RPD, through the streets of Raccoon, and Umbrella’s labs keeps your pulse racing at a mile a minute, and the creepy environments are as crucial to the experience as the monsters or even the protagonists themselves. The unsettling use of light and sound, as well as the claustrophobic confines of the locations all combine to make RE2 remake a survival horror masterpiece.

However, when you’re frantically running from Mr. X, or trying to slip past a Licker, it’s easy to miss some of the best implicit storytelling ever to grace a video game. Resident Evil 2 tells the story of a fallen city, and though you arrive after the majority of the chaos has subsided, the environments serve as a window into the destruction of Raccoon City. Without saying a word, Capcom managed to convey the horror the citizen’s of Raccoon City faced as a result of the t-Virus, and it’s the stories we don’t hear that interest me almost more than Leon and Claire’s.

We’ve put together a few examples of our favorite moments of implicit storytelling in Resident Evil 2 remake. These are little moments you may have missed during your journey, but upon examination they made us reflect on just how terrible the situation in Raccoon City must have been only a few hours or days before Claire and Leon’s arrival.

Resident Evil 2 Implicit Storytelling | The RPD Courtyard

Resident Evil 2 RPD Grave


Entering the courtyard of the RPD during the 2nd Run scenarios gives us one of the direst portraits of what the officers and refugees at the station faced during the Raccoon City outbreak. The grounds leading to the front door of the station have been turned into an impromptu graveyard, complete with simple markers.

It’s not hard from this scene to imagine the survivor’s plight. As more and more of them died, whether due to attacks from t-Virus creatures or the twisted acts of the sadistic Chief Irons, the survivors were forced to bury more and more of their number.

Resident Evil 2 RPD Graves

Most of the graves have dimensions that seem fit for a single body. They’re rather neat and seem to be handled with much care. It seems to show that even in dark times, the officers of the RPD and refugees taking shelter inside took pains to ensure the dead were still shown respect.

Resident Evil 2 RPD Courtyard Open Grave

However, as you near the path leading to the underground tunnel, you see a final grave that was never finished. This grave is shallow, with two wrapped bodies inside, and was never covered. A third body near the entry, which remains unburied, seems to indicate whoever was digging the graves either lost the will to continue the burial process or had to flee from an impending attack. No body is nearby that seems to indicate they were killed in the process, however.

Who were the people who expended such effort to bury the dead when so many of them were up and walking around? What interrupted the digging of that final grave? We may never know, but their story is one that’s kept me thinking since I first saw this scene.

Resident Evil 2 Implicit Storytelling | The RPD Main Hall

RPD Main Hall

The Main Hall of the RPD is easy to overlook because you pass through it so often, but it’s another area that seems to speak loudly of what happened in Raccoon City. In the original, the Main Hall seems almost untouched, belying the horrors that wait in the wings. For the remake, Capcom took the opportunity to give the Main Hall a design that felt more realistic.

The Main Hall of the RPD is now filled with cots and supply crates. Detritus litters the ground, and a random blood splatter or piece of garbage here and there gives the room a much more lived-in feel than the original had. You can feel the absence of life here, where possibly only a few hours before, refugees and police had been huddled together for safety.

It’s obvious that the survivors made the Main Hall their last bastion. The entrances to the east and west wings on the first floor are shuttered, as is the passage to the second floor. Mysteriously, though, there are no bodies in the Main Hall and no sign of any struggle. What happened to make the survivors abandon this relatively safe location?

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Resident Evil 2 Implicit Storytelling | RPD First Floor East Wing

Out of all the areas of the RPD, the one with the most damage and mayhem is the first floor of the East Wing. The tile is covered in water from a stopped up toilet, and there are signs of vicious fighting in parts of the area. With chained doors blocking both the east office and the door leading to the fire escape, and the objects barricading the hall leading to the interrogation room, it seems quite a bit of effort was put in to fortify this location.

Resident Evil 2 Press Room

We can tell that the Press Room was used as a temporary living quarters by refugees. The floor has been cleared, and sleeping bags and trash give the impression that this is where some people lived for part of the outbreak. However, something terrible must have occurred because there’s a considerable amount of blood, as well as a dead body sprawled on the ground.

Resident Evil 2 East Hallway

We also see evidence of a great struggle near the door leading into the Watchman’s Room. Blood covers the floor and walls, and several bodies can be found here. Since when you arrive the windows aren’t broken, I can only imagine the threat the survivors encountered here must have been internal.

What happened to the survivors here? Did they end up moving to the Main Hall, or did the machinations of Chief Irons result in several pockets of refugees and officers being scattered throughout the RPD? Also, why did someone stop up the toilet? It’s likely only Marvin knows, and he’s not telling.

Resident Evil 2 Implicit Storytelling | RPD West Wing Staircase

Resident Evil 2 Female Cop

When you climb the stairs leading from the first floor to the second floor of the RPD West Wing, there’s the corpse of a female police officer slumped against the wall at the top of the landing. For some reason, this one zombie sticks out in my mind. Her model isn’t unique, it’s reused several times throughout the game, but it seems like something particularly tragic happened to her.

This is another area where it looks like there’s been intense fighting. She is slumped beside a shutter leading to the Main Hall, which is barricaded on the other side. Did she die valiantly fighting the undead so her compatriots could seal the shutters? Alternatively, did she escape another part of the station and try to make it to the safety of the Main Hall only to find her route was blocked?

Resident Evil 2 Implicit Storytelling | RPD Shower Room and Spade Key Room

Resident Evil 2 RPD Shower Room

One of the more noticeable mysteries of the RPD is the giant holes punched through the walls in the RPD shower room on the second floor of the west wing and the small office where you get the Spade Key on the third floor of the West Wing. Both of these areas, especially the shower room, incurred massive damage from something, but no clue of what caused it is left behind.

Resident Evil 2 Spade Key Room

The shower room has a hole through the wall, and bits of linoleum and tile are scattered about. Most noticeably, a nearby boiler has been punctured and blocks your path by spraying boiling water. It’s not hard to imagine that the multiple small holes were caused by gunfire.

It’s theorized that Nemesis caused this damage since Jill’s encounter with it in the RPD would take place before Leon and Claire arrived. However, we won’t know for sure unless Capcom remakes Resident Evil 3.

These are only a small sampling of the implicit storytelling Capcom has woven throughout the background of Resident Evil 2. There’s a ton of other areas in which the placement of bodies, bloodstains, and items tell the story of how the city fell. I’m hoping that some of these incidents are clarified in future DLC for RE2 or other Resident Evil games. However, for now, it’s just fun to think about just what occurred during the Raccoon City outbreak.