In Resident Evil: Genesis, players are taken back to the origins of the Resident Evil franchise - taking the role of Jill Valentine as she investigates the disappearance of the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team and uncovers the secrets hidden in the mansion of the eccentric Lord Spencer.
Genesis takes a turn away from the other storylines established by adaptations of the original game, as protagonist Chris Redfield has absolutely no mention in the game and does not exist in any scenes. It is also not possible to play as him, so this automatically rules out Rebecca Chambers as well. With this there are a lot of story changes, including design changes within the mansion itself and other areas in the surrounding facility. Such changes include that there is no way to save Barry Burton, as he will be attacked by Lisa Trevor in the second floor Garden and is presumed dead (his body completely vanishes after this point). Lisa Trevor will also chase after your character at an amazing speed, with no real closure to her character aside from running away. Included in that change, comes the finale where Wesker meets his end at the hands of the Tyrant and you must fight him here in the lab (and strangely, anywhere else within the "laboratory" complex as he can chase you from room to room. After killing the Tyrant, the game ends and the credits start to roll...there is no rooftop battle or rocket launcher.
The gameplay has seen significant changes from previous iterations in the series, having been developed from the ground up as a mobile phone title and designed to work more effectively with the limited control scheme and screen size. The result is a game that is more of an adventure/puzzle game than the fast-paced action titles found in console versions.
1UP.com considered the game to be a "thoughtful remake", re-exploring the story in a new way as a "satisfying adventure-game puzzler", rather than simply being another port of Resident Evil.
The game avoids the more action-oriented elements of the earlier games, with only a few sections being dependent on using the cumbersome firing mechanic. For the large part the player will explore the complex and take part in unusual puzzles, such as placing a battery in a fish tank. The placement of items did face some criticism; while 1UP applauded the searching of items (necessary for advancing in the game) which kept it in line with similar adventure games, IGN disapproved of how this made it a slow game and citing that earlier Resident Evil titles made items easier to find without the player resorting to searching couches and plants.
Due to being on an isometric grid, the player can only walk in the four cardinal directions. In the spirit of the earlier titles, the character pivots 90' based on "tank controls" with the "up" and "down" keys being dedicated to forward and backward motion. IGN acknowledged it did a "fine job" at re-creating this aspect of the games, but opposed the concept of tank controls in general, seeing them as an unnecessary use of antiquated gameplay.
The game's aiming mechanic was also subject to criticism, with both IGN and 1UP mutually agreeing that actually hitting a zombie is more down to luck than good controlling.