It's a bit strange that the movie is set in 1998, it might have something to do with the US and/or Directors cut release of the original game. Because in Japan it was released in 1996, so one would think they would use that year - but hey that would be nitpicking. Also if you think one or more of the characters do not exactly look like the individuals you played ... well it does not copy everything from the game.
But still, this is as close an adaptation of the first game (and maybe some other elements from other movies thrown in for good measure) as it gets. And I was going "finally" while I watched this. The first time I saw the dog ... the dog scene that scared me as much as a scene can scare someone. The dog will not have the same scene as it had in the game - but one similar enough to really make me happy. Well you know what I mean.
But back to the beginning of the movie and the backstory of our two siblings. This could have been a completely different movie/franchise they shot right there. One closer to Annabelle or something similar - quite spooky and it might throw some people off. But one that sets quite the mood for the rest of the film. And shows off that this may have a lot of gunplay (later on), but still considers itself to be more horror than action. Well played - if you excuse the pun.
There is enough backstory to keep you interested and invested in those involved - of course you cannot get into all the details of every individual. But you don't have too. Conversations are quite good and the stingers really hit their mark. Again with the puns, I know.
If you are a fan of the games you will recognize that those involved really loved them too. It shows - and it also shows (apart from a lot of graphic violence) a story worth being investigated further ... as in sequels. And for that stay tuned during the credits for one added scene! Thank you for finally giving me the movie that almost was done 20 years ago.
Edit: I think it is clear above, but I wanted to add, that those unfamiliar with the original game (and the ones coming after them probably, but especially the first one) may have major issues as I witnessed after the movie was over. The style/tone change from the beginning/intro to what the movie then becomes is quite major. Still this is how the game felt. And even in the introduction of the main characters and Raccoon City as a whole, you do see glimpses that give away the game. The umbrella logo to name just one.
And little gifts like that or callbacks from the game(s) are more than welcome (the very first "encounter" in the house with the back to us ... chilling and as genius and good as in the game, the text messages, map etc). For those in the know - again I can't talk about those unfamiliar ... but they too can enjoy a very dark mood with a driven and goal orientated story and location! Cinematography and effects wise this is awesome.