Classic Resident Evil returns in this free survival horror demo

Classic Resident Evil is back in the Echoes of the Living Steam Next Fest demo, and the survival horror game has vastly improved since we played it last.

Echoes of the Living demo Steam Next Fest: a woman holding a shotgun stodd in a room, with a panting behind them

If you miss Resident Evil’s classic fixed-camera games, the new Echoes of the Living demo that’s part of Steam Next Fest this week is 100% for you. After playing the first demo at the start of this year and revisiting the upcoming survival horror game as a part of Steam’s demo festival, I can safely say that developer MoonGlint has made a handful of brilliant improvements, creating a game that is truly worth trying for fans of Capcom’s classic series.

Echoes of the Living has all the mainstays of those older Resident Evil games: dual protagonists with different narratives, a fixed camera, a focus on item management, a spooky atmosphere, backtracking and puzzle solving, an item box in the save room, and, of course, zombies. If you’ve played any of the games between the original Resident Evil and Code Veronica, so much of what Echoes of the Living does will be instantly familiar to survival horror game fanatics.

MoonGlint has made some great improvements to the game since the first Echoes of the Living demo, too. The first thing I noticed was how much better the tank controls are. Last time they were unresponsive and unwieldy, but here they feel so much smoother and lead to a much smaller number of zombie-grabbings as a result. There’s actually a more-modern control scheme available now, too – but tank controls are the way to go for purists.

Both player characters Laurel and Liam have changed intros, and a few in-game events make the game world feel instantly more alive. Echoes of the Living already looks like a modern version of the original Resident Evil Remake, so if you love that game, this is for you.

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The demo’s biggest departure from Resident Evil comes in the form of brand new melee weapons. While you still have that trusty infinite-use knife (sadly it’s not as OP as Code Veronica’s) you also have baseball bats and pipes. They break after a handful of hits, but act as both a good backup when you’re out of ammo, and an incredibly satisfying way to one-hit enemies.

Just like how you could one-tap zombies by aiming the shotgun up in classic Resi games, you can change the swing direction of a melee weapon and explode a zombie’s head with ease. The animation and sound effects combine for one of the most satisfying crunch noises I’ve ever heard, and I felt genuinely upset when my baseball bat broke.

You’ve only got access to the new Echoes of the Living demo during Steam Next Fest, which is running until Monday, October 16, so get that demo downloaded on Steam and give it a try as soon as possible. The release date is now set for the first quarter of 2024 as well, so you haven’t got too long to wait for the full launch.

While you wait for Echoes of the Living and the ever-elusive Resident Evil 9 we’ve put together the best survival games currently available on PC, alongside the essential VR horror games to really give you the spooks.