So I was watching someone play the new Resident Evil the other day and I was a bit baffled by its UI in the corner. It was a cell phone with a heart monitor on it. (That one is the second picture below) I am more used to just a life counter or a green bar as representations of health but apparently, the heart monitor is the “usual” method for Resident Evil games to show health,(They changed it for games four and five but brought it back for six). To make matters even more complicated, they didn’t show it on the normal screen you see when you play. You had to push the start button and bring up your inventory in order to see it. So when you played resident Evil one, the following image is exactly what you saw. The screen was free from anything blocking you vision.
(Screenshot gathered from Resident Evil Wikia )
I would be utterly lost. I personally need something right there to tell me how close to death I am. So for me, that would be an ‘unusable” UI. Now compare the original UI, to the following image of Resident Evil 6. The player I was watching actually preferred to turn off the UI and not have an indicator because he found it more annoying than beneficial. So for him, no UI was more usable than the actual UI. For me, neither one is usable. (The image is a paused image as apparently no one in the entire internet has a shot of Leon getting damaged enough that the heart monitor appears.)
As a new player, I would have no idea how to read that health bar, (I can barely see it, i just see a vague red squiggle)so if you were going to ‘update’ it why use an old version? (Resident Evil 5 used the green health bar in a circle style health indicator, why did they feel the need to go back to the old style when they had already gotten rid of it for two games.)
On a different note not necessarily related to the usability of the UI but still pertinent, lets be honest here, the UI isn’t supposed to be something concrete that the character is carrying around. The character is separate from the UI so making it be ‘realistic’ by the UI being a cell phone he can carry around actually doesn’t make sense for the player. The character doesn’t need to ‘see’ the UI. When he needs to check inventory, the character pulls out his cell phone to look at it since that must also be where he stores all his bullets and healing items. In his phone. Give us a little bit more credit Resident Evil team, we’re playing a Zombie game, we can handle some suspension of disbelief. It was an odd design choice and for the player I was watching, they may as well have saved their time and not designed a brand new UI.