It’s no big secret just how much of an iconic symbol Tyrant (sometimes lovingly referred to as Mr. X by fans), is for Resident Evil 2. This hulking mass of near-unstoppable bio-weapon terror occasionally appears to pursue Leon and Claire relentlessly throughout Raccoon City. From his gargantuan frame to his ability to shrug off bullets as if they were BB pellets, to his purposeful stride that is nearly unwavering – Tyrant is the very embodiment of Death itself.
That much alone was already present in the original game. Where Resident Evil 2 Remake ups the ante of the legendary juggernaut isn’t in his visual design or his ability to f**k you up, but rather what you can’t see. That is, what you can hear.
Your first encounter with Tyrant occurs while still in the Raccoon City Police Department. Whether you unload precious shotgun rounds into his face to force him to take a knee or skillfully evade his pursuit and throw him off your trail, you come out of the encounter feeling like you had cheated death. There’s no time to relax, though, as a single question bubbles to the surface of the mind and envelops the heart in dread:
What’s that pounding sound?
Tyrant is still out there. And he will hunt. You. Down.
The RPD building of Resident Evil 2 Remake is sprawling and by this point in the game, the player probably has a decent grasp of its layout and how to get around even without relying on the map. So why is it that no matter where you run, the incessant pounding never stops? The methodical, uninterrupted stomps serve as a constant reminder that Tyrant is out there, searching to crush your skull in the palm of his hand.
Suddenly the building that the player was starting to become familiar with becomes completely foreign and hostile again. Players must strain their ears to get a general idea of where the hunter is and plan a route around him. After upwards of an hour of engaging in this deadly game of cat and mouse, fatigue starts to set in.
Like a hypnotic watch on a pendulum, the sounds eventually start to blend together. Is the stomping coming from above or below? Is he right around the corner or combing through the room nearby? Poor judgment may lead to opening a door into Tyrant’s face, which promptly results in him reaching out and grabbing your face in turn. He is a constant, looming threat who layers dread upon fear upon dread in the mind of the player, and that’s just when it’s the Tyrant alone because all the other creepy crawlies are still out there!
Entering a room you’ve explored countless times before only to find a Licker is terrifying enough, but when you have to contend with it while also keeping tabs on the approaching stomping — which will get closer with all the ruckus being made — it creates a whole new level of urgency. There are few situations that seem more heart-stoppingly desperate than hearing the Tyrant’s foreboding theme song kick in, signifying his immediate presence, while having your hands full trying to keep a Licker off your face in a narrow hallway. Trapped on both sides, it’s literally do-or-die. With the executioner’s footfalls audibly closing in from behind, you don’t even need to turn around to know how much time is left until the die part.
By the time Tyrant’s initial pursuit is finally shaken for good and the stomping ceases, a sense of genuine relief accompanies it. It feels like whatever comes next can’t possibly rival the stress suffered from what felt like an eternity of being chased. That temporal distortion was only made possible thanks to Tyrant’s omnipresence and that omnipresence was only possible thanks to the stellar sound direction on Capcom’s part. Tyrant was always there, yet not at the same time.
The brief respite quickly comes to an end, though, as Resident Evil 2 Remake still has many other horrors to subject the player to. Even so, the Tyrant and his ceaseless pursuit will surely leave a lasting, and downright dreadful, impression on its victims.