The Notion of Duality in Resident Evil: Code Veronica

Thursday 19 January 2017

From the protagonists to puzzle elements, almost everything in Resident Evil: Code Veronica seems to work in pairs. This duality is very prominent in the game, and it stands out in a great variety of forms.

The story itself revolves around two pairs of siblings: Chris and Claire Redfield versus Alfred and Alexia Ashford. Chris and Claire represent all the good and healthy elements: deep and touching love between brother and sister, solid family bonds, pure and gentle characters, good and brave heart; while Alfred and Alexia are all the opposite: unhealthy obsessions, corrupted - practically non-existent - family, insane and  degenerate characters, dark and evil heart.

Chris and Claire are "made in Heaven", while Alfred and Alexia are made in Hell
The game is split in two parts, where the good characters meet the bad characters crosswise: in the first part, the leading character is Claire, while Alfred is the villain who chases her and places obstacles in her every step. In the second part, the protagonist is Chris and the role of the villain passes over to Alexia.

Claire constantly hides from Alfred's attacks, while Chris has to fight twice against Alexia's most grotesque mutations

Alfred himself seems to suffer from a form of split personality disorder; being obsessed with Alexia, whom he considers dead, sometimes he likes to slip in her clothes and pretend to be her. In this case, the duality is expressed within the same element  - more specific, within the same character.
Alfred as himslef (left) and showing off his "Alexia" persona (right)

When Chris arrives in Antarctica, he finally finds Claire at the back of the main hall in the mansion there, where she had passed out, trapped inside a coccoon, and he is the one to rescue her and sort of bring her back to life. A bit earlier, Alexia had woken up from her slumber, after fifteen years of hibernation, as a result of Alfred's actions.

Chris frees Claire from the coccoon, while a dying Alfred tries to reach Alexia as she's waking up

When it comes to puzzles and puzzle elements, there are several instances of duality present in the game.

Quite early in the story, as Claire tries to make her way out of the zombie-infested prison grounds at the Rockfort Island, she comes across a huge door that needs a special item to open. This special item is later found in the Security Room near the prison barracks; it is a metallic Hawk Emblem. She can't just carry it along and bring it to the door, however: the room where she finds it is highly secured and prevents her from leaving while holding anything metallic on her. She has to use a 3D printer and make an alloy duplicate of it, using a special material that can pass undetected from security scanners.

The Special Alloy Emblem (right) is the perfect "master key" that tricks the security scanners

After going through that gate, she gains access to the Ashford mansion, which is in fact the headquarters from where Alfred used to command the prison before the biohazard attack that turned all of its inhabitants into zombies.

The mansion is a luxurious but rather eery house that looks like it's stuck to past decades, full of locked rooms and creepy secrets - not to mention its residents, that are not exactly human.

One of the first things that Claire has to do there is to find a steering wheel which is well hidden inside the secret compartment of a small military museum at the back of the house. In that same secret place, there is a pair of golden Lugers in a panel on the wall. Claire needs those guns as they have to be placed on an identical panel somewhere else, to open a secret passage.

The panel on the door indicates where to look for the items that will open the secret entrance

However, removing the Lugers from their original place results in her getting locked in the secret department while deadly toxic gas fills the room. At that point in the game, there seems to be no way to get the guns and leave the room alive.

Minutes later, though, as Claire is about to exit the mansion, she hears screams of agony coming from that room, so she runs back there. Steve, the young man she met a bit earlier in the prison yard, obviously got in that room after she left, took the Lugers from the wall panel and got trapped in the deadly secret department. Claire manages to open the locked door by solving a puzzle on a panel outside, but Steve, who runs out with the Lugers in his hands, refuses to hand them over to her; he got extremely impressed by them and wants to keep them for himself.

Later on, Claire finds a pair of Sub-Machine guns in another area. Her agile mind quickly sets up a plan, and next time she sees Steve, she offers them to him, in exchange for the golden Lugers. Since the Lugers have no bullets while the Sub-Machine guns do, Steve happily accepts the switch.

The Sub-Machine guns (left) are exchanged with the golden Lugers that open a secret passage

While still in the mansion, Claire has to solve a series of puzzles so as to find two items that are necessary for the progress of the game and her being able to get out of there. In the locked Gallery, she finds the Queen Ant object in a vase - it's a red jewel shaped like an ant - while in the similarly locked Poker room she finds the King Ant object - a blue jewel shaped like an ant - in a slot machine.

The two Ant objects represent Alfred and Alexia Ashford

In the second part of the game, where Chris takes over the action and gets to Antarctica while looking for Claire, he has to find a blue jewel and a red jewel to solve a similar puzzle.

The jewels that Chris finds in Antarctica are in fact the eyes of a tiger statue

Once Claire manages to get through that locked door that opens with placing the Lugers on its panel, she enters a small study that conceals another hidden path behind an antique music box. This path leads to the secluded residence of the Ashfords, a palace of sorts that is even creepier than the main mansion, with bats flying around, zombies and monsters strolling around its corridors and rooms, creepy dolls hanging from the ceiling and what not.

The upper floor of the palace hosts two bedrooms (obviously the rooms of Alfred and Alexia). The rooms are almost identical in their setting and architecture, with just a few decorative details making a difference.

The bedrooms of Alfred an Alexia are twins, just like their owners

Equally, Chris in Antarctica gets to explore another mansion, which seems to be a replica of the Ashford villa, that hosts, among other rooms, two identical bedrooms.

The Antarcica bedrooms are twins and are also twins of the twin bedrooms in Rockfort Island

The two rooms in Rockfort Island are parts of a puzzle that Claire has to solve so as to first find an important item and, eventually, open yet one more secret room. She has to use the two music boxes that are located in the two bedrooms and make them work, one at a time, by placing the correct Ant object in the receptacle on each one's lid - although there are certain things that she has to do in between.

The ant jewels fit perfectly on the lids of the music boxes

While in Antarctica, Chris has to solve a similar puzzle, this time placing each one of the jewels, that he found previously, on the correct music box, so as to make each one work.

By placing the blue and red jewels on the respective music box, the lids open

Once you finalize the music box puzzles in Rockfort Island (with Claire) and in Antarctica (with Chris), a secret ladder is revealed above the beds in each room.

The Ashfords seem to have a thing for hidden entrances and passages, especially above beds

When Claire climbs up her ladder to the hidden attic, she finds a Silver Dragonfly jewel sitting on a chair. Chris, in the attic that he discovers in his story, finds a Dragonfly object in a pot.

Both the Silver Dragonfly (left) and the Dragonfly object (right) are more than just jewels

Claire has to detatch the wings of the Silver Dragonfly, while the remaining part of the jewel (its body) is revealed to be a key which opens yet one more secret attic above the one she is in. Chris, on the other hand, has to attach four wing objects on his Dragonfly to create the Golden Dragonfly, which is the key that opens a crucial exit.

Placed in the concealed keyhole, the Dragonfly object reveals the hidden room for Claire (left), while the Golden Dragonfly opens an exit for Chis (right)

To access the second secret attic, Claire has to climb a ladder which is located in the centerpiece of a carousel. In Antarctica, Chris comes across another carousel, just outside the Ashford mansion replica, where he promptly finds two of the missing wings for the Dragonfly object.

The Rockford carousel leads to the secret attic, while the Antarctica one holds two important items

In the Diorama Room of the Rockfort Island's Training Facility, there is a picture on the wall, which shows that same room as it should look after all its puzzles are solved. It is as if the actual room (more precisely, a version of it) is mirrored in the framed picture on the wall.

The picture on the wall is like a revealing mirror of the actual room

On one of the walls of the room is a painting depicting a man, while the wall opposite it holds an emblem. However there is a rectangular shadow on that same wall, implying that something else has to be placed there, and more specifically another painting of the same dimensions as the other one. Claire finds this missing painting somewhere else in the Facility, and it is one that shows a skeleton which has the same pose as the man in the first painting and also wears a similar hat.

The skeleton version of the painting seems to be a reminder of the futility of human existence

Each one of the paintings seems to be a mirror of the other, each showing a side that the other is hiding. Only when they are placed facing each other, the next part of the puzzle unlocks, revealing a hidden compartment of the room which hosts a model of the Training Facility.

When you hang the skeleton painting on its place (right), the room becomes more like its mirror picture on the wall

In one of the yards of the Training Facility, there is a huge tank which, in Chris's part, when moved slightly out of place, reveals a hidden trapdoor that leads to the basement. A bit later, Chris finds a tank object on a lone balcony, above a storage room.

The actual tank and the tank object are used in similar ways

Chris then has to take the tank to the save room with the Training Facility model and place it in its receptacle there. Doing so, reveals a hidden panel on the wall opposite, behind the framed picture that depicts the actual room. After placing the correct set of objects on that panel, the model of the Training Facility is drawn back, revealing a secret trapdoor, just below the spot where Chris placed the tank object previously, more or less a place similar to the one where the trapdoor outside was revealed, under the actual tank.

The trapdoor below the model is at the same place as the trapdoor outside

Claire and Chris as a pair, but also each one of them through their stories, have a third axis that somehow affects their actions and, to a certain extent, their lives. For Claire it is Steve Burnside, the boy she escaped with from Rockfort Island, while for Chris it is Albert Wesker, his ex-captain and eternal enemy. Steve is on the good side, but jumps to the evil realm at the end, albeit against his own will; Wesker is always on the bad side, and always totally aware and conscious of it.

Claire brings the best out of Steve even when he is irreversibly mutated, while Chris brings the worst out of Wesker even in the good days

Via Chris and Claire, Steve and Wesker's paths sort of cross: after Alexia killed mutated Steve, Wesker took his body so as to examine the Veronica virus it carried. Although there is no other obvious relation between the two characters, their individual connections with Claire and Chris and the way their decisions influenced the progress of the story for the Redfields, kind of set them on a similar level.

Moreso, since both showed a most evil side at the end; although only Steve mutated physically, he was the one who managed to maintain his humanity deep inside, while Wesker, who never changed on the outside, was the one who was truly the 'monster' all along.

1 comment:

mikegfy said...

It amazes me how infatuated Wesker is with Chris. He doesn't seem interested in other characters despite their attempts at exposing Umbrella. In RE4 he completely ignores Leon and allows Ada to help him. At some points it seemed to serve his purpose, but at others it didn't and he surely could've done something about it.