Lost in Nightmares is the first of two single-player focused downloadable content for Resident Evil 5, and it serves primarily as a prequel to the events of the game’s narrative. You’ll be playing as Chris Redfield who, alongside his faithful partner Jill Valentine, infiltrates the cryptic estate of Umbrella’s founder, Ozwell E. Spencer. Of course, anyone who’s played through the base game knows how this scenario is going to end, but in the case of this piece of DLC, it’s all about reaching that resolution.
The events occurring at the end of this pack shouldn’t be the only thing familiar to long-time fans of the franchise, however, as Old Man Spencer seems fond of constructing identical mansions throughout the globe. While the area open to you isn’t a brick-for-brick replica of that which was present in the very first installment in the series, it’s eerily similar, a fact that Chris and Jill themselves address as they roam the hallways. The mansion doesn’t just look the same, either, as Capcom have taken it upon themselves to litter this short trek down memory lane with all manner of nostalgic fan service. There’s a journal entry containing the words “itchy” and “tasty”, a sequence during which Moonlight Sonata is played on a piano, and even a certain easter egg that’s more than willing to drag you further back into the earlier days of the series.
Surprisingly, the whole thing is very light on combat. You’ll spend most of your time running between various locations and doing some very linear puzzle solving, this perhaps also being a nod to past titles. There’s a slightly disturbing new enemy against whom to test your own ardor, and you’ll encounter him about a half-dozen times as the mission progresses. He’s slow, swings a giant weapon, and is more than happy to shoot some sort of repugnant fluid all over you and your partner should you get too close.
The entirety of Lost in Nightmares shouldn’t take the average gamer much more than an hour to complete, which is somewhat fortunate considering that there’s also no save system in place. There are a few reasons to replay; getting through the thing once does grant the ability to play again as Jill, and there are also a few additional achievements to pursue. The game tries to keep things fresh by offering a randomized selection of weapons, but in reality there’s nothing here to warrant more than a couple of playthroughs. The game stands separate from the rest of Resident Evil 5, disallowing the use of the arsenal of super-powerful weapons you’ve likely built up in the year since release, and likewise nothing you’ll do here will contribute toward any future runs through the full game.
This bit of downloadable content also unlocks The Mercenaries Reunion. The full set of features for this new Mercenaries mode won’t be available until the second pack is released, but Lost in Nightmares enables you to play as Wesker’s busty mistress Excella Gionne, as well as classic S.T.A.R.S. Operative Barry Burton. Each of them has a unique arsenal of weapons. The big downsides of this “new” feature is that you’ll be using these characters on the same maps you’ve been playing Mercenaries on for a year now with only a few minor differences, and again nothing you do in this portion of the game will factor at all into the base version of the mode that came with the original game.
Taking everything bundled in this package into consideration, it feels like the asking price of 400 Microsoft Points just slightly overshoots the value of the content. For long-time Resident Evil fans, there’s plenty of reminiscing to be had here, and depending upon your own infatuation with the source material, it’s definitely worth it to witness the events leading up to that flashback cutscene featured in the full campaign. Throw in the Mercenaries Reunion, and you’ve got a solid, bite-sized chunk of DLC that offers just enough entertainment to make it feel like a integral piece of Resident Evil fiction.