Resident Evil 5 has been on shop shelves for a full year now, and Capcom has decided it's about time to supply the game with some more DLC. Lost in Nightmares is the first of two playable expansions to the Resident Evil 5 story, filling in some of the gaps left in the main adventure. Not only this, the Lost in Nightmares pack also includes an updated Mercenaries Reunion mode, which is furnished with extra characters and costumes when purchasing the Desperate Escape DLC pack. For those wanting a reason to return to the zombie cleansing frolics of Resident Evil 5; this is most certainly it.
If you've taken the time to read this, it's probably safe to assume you've played through Resident Evil 5 already. If not though, it might be worth skipping this paragraph to avoid minor spoilers. During the game, a flashback shows Chris Redfield and his original partner Jill Valentine storming the mansion of Ozwell E. Spencer, the founder of Umbrella Corp. After exchanging blows with the nefarious Albert Wesker, the scene ends with Jill diving head first through a window, taking Wesker with her as she plummets toward a presumable death. Lost in Nightmares picks up an hour or so before this altercation, answering the questions that have been keeping Resident Evil fans up at night.
Whilst Resident Evil 5 took the survival horror genre into territory governed almost entirely by action mechanics, Lost in Nightmares returns to the slow paced puzzling the series was founded upon. As a result of this, the new chapter is a far more atmospheric experience, bringing back much of the tension that some fans felt was missing from the main game. Just like its parent game, Lost in Nightmares is designed around the co-operative experience, so if you happen to have a willing companion to hand, be sure to recruit their services.
The mansion itself is the perfect venue for the action; a refreshing departure from the arid African environments of the main game. The new (and yet very familiar) setting gives rise to numerous nods and references to Chris and Jill's original mansion exploring escapades in Resident Evil 1, which fans of the series will acknowledge with wide smiles. The first fifteen or so minutes are fairly devoid of action, with bullets only being fired to take out the 18 hidden Score Stars scattered throughout the chapter. During this zombie-free period, the game slips back into the familiar puzzle based exploration that shaped the first games in the series.
It isn't long before your guns get to see some real action, however, as the game introduces all-new enemies to sink some bullets into. The lumbering, axe-wielding abominations that roam the underneath of the mansion are terrifying opponents indeed, and take a fair few bullets before finally hitting the ground. There are a few subtle differences with Lost in Nightmares that change the feel of combat quite dramatically from the main game. Ammo is in short supply, and you'll be expected to use it wisely in order to make it to the end of the chapter in one piece. Every bullet needs to count, and the game is incredibly tense as a result. At times, Lost in Nightmares feels like a fantastic return to the roots of survival horror.
After an hour or so of exploring, puzzling, shooting, and a customary boss-battle with the bullet dodging Wesker, the story reaches its inevitable conclusion. While some might find that the end arrives somewhat prematurely, the fun doesn't have to end there. Capcom has included an updated version of Mercenaries mode, adding all new characters and costumes to the addictive score-based zombie shoot out. Mercenaries Reunion sees the return of Barry Burton and Excella Gionne, as well as other unlockable characters and costumes based on your score ranking. Combine this with leaderboards and all new achievements and trophies, and you have a fairly sizeable package considering the humble price tag.
Unlike a lot of DLC, Capcom hasn't simply repackaged more of the same for a quick cash in. Lost in Nightmares is a shining example of what DLC should be; a short but sweet extension to the original story that offers something different from the main game whilst retaining its overall tone. It's ultimately a fan service; a gorgeous, tense and well designed 'thank you' to those willing to rescue the game from the shelf it's likely been sat on for a year now. Whilst there's nothing here for those who didn't enjoy Resident Evil 5, fans should consider Lost in Nightmares as nothing less than an essential purchase.