As one of the most recognisable and important franchises in gaming, Resident Evil is near and dear to the hearts of so many. From all the way back in 1996, when S.T.A.R.S. members infiltrated the classic Spencer Mansion, right the way through to newcomer Ethan Winters' attempted escape of the Baker family, each mainline entry and spin-off marks a new chapter for Capcom. Today is the series' 25th anniversary, and we weren't about to let the occasion fly by without celebrating one of gaming's greatest.
We reached out to as many developers as we possibly could — both ones that have produced some of your favourite horror titles and other noteworthy names from the wider industry — with the intention of documenting the memories, thoughts, and feelings they associate with Resident Evil. This is the result.
Glen Schofield, Dead Space Creator and Chief Executive Officer at Striking Distance Studios (The Callisto Protocol)
I’m a rabid fan of all things horror, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Resident Evil has had a huge impact on me as a gamer and a gamemaker. Resident Evil 4 in particular is one of my top 5 favorite games of all time. There was just something about the mood and atmosphere in the game. It was dreadful, heavy, and felt incredibly oppressive. I just got so caught up in it. I remember being terrified of what was around every corner, but still being drawn to see what the game had in store for me. It also had lots of different kinds of scare moments, which was a big inspiration when I was making Dead Space. Whether it was a boss fight, running from enemies, or a perfectly timed jump scare, you never knew what to expect.
Resident Evil continues to be a major influence on my new game with Striking Distance Studios called The Calisto Protocol. Me and the team that created Dead Space are taking the idea of a Resident Evil game in space to a whole new level, with a next-gen take on survival horror set 300 years in the future on Jupiter’s dead moon, Callisto.
Will Byles, Director at Supermassive Games (Until Dawn)
It was back in 2002 when I was still working in film that I first came across Resident Evil on the GameCube. It had already been released a few years earlier on the PlayStation but this was my first introduction to one of the greatest horror franchises ever.
I have always been a zealous horror movie fanatic so when I discovered Resident Evil it was a bit of an epiphany. A horror that you could play! Walking down a scary corridor, framed in a cinematic camera with no idea of what monstrosity lurked behind the next corner, was utterly terrifying. In a way that cinema couldn’t do. With cinema it was always someone else. With Resident Evil it was YOU, regardless of whether you chose to play as Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine. It was at that moment that I realised that a playable survival horror was way more terrifying than a horror movie and at that moment I changed my career and moved from the film industry into game development.
Resident Evil championed fixed cameras, third person over the shoulder shooting, super high end graphics (with the pre rendered backgrounds) great characters and delightfully cheesy dialogue, unexpected twists and truly frightening games. Resident Evil 4 is arguably one of the best games ever made, horror or not.
There is so much in Until Dawn that was inspired by the amazing visionaries that created such an iconic franchise as Resident Evil.
Jacek Zięba, Producer at Bloober Team (The Medium, Observer, Layers of Fear)
Everything? Long story short — my first ever PlayStation game and horror game that I ever played was Resident Evil 2, on a little black and white TV, in my grandpa's house in summer, and I was ten. This changes everything. This gave me my love for horrors, for zombies, for video games. In a way, that time, this game, this series is a foundation of who I am as a gamer and game developer. I just love Resident Evil with all my heart.
Radosław Nowiński, Level Designer at Bloober Team (The Medium, Observer, Layers of Fear)
I have to admit, I used to be a bit dismissive about Resident Evil. In recent years, however, I’ve learned to appreciate and eventually love Resident Evil for what it is, and yes, working on The Medium had a part in it. I realized how much work it takes to balance a game like that: the static cameras of the classic entries (which I can assure, take a lot of work to get right), the atmospheric locations, the puzzle design, the non-linear exploration… but also the wonderful cheesiness. I used to think of RE games as not much more than a collection of B movie horror cliches, but every aspect that I’ve mentioned (and many more that I haven’t) elevate the series to being something way bigger than the sum of its parts. Working on The Medium helped me understand how much craftsmanship and passion goes into these games.
My favourite thing about the franchise is that they’ve shaken up the formula so many times, that we have a whole collection of great games that are very different from one another, each with their own unique qualities. Among them, two are my absolute favourites: RE4 and RE7. RE4 with its addictive combat, great pacing, and self-aware cheesiness is still an absolute blast to play — it’s a game perfectly tailored for a controller, and I believe it can still be a benchmark today.
RE7, on the other hand, could not be a more different game. I played it in VR and it’s an absolutely unforgettable experience — it’s creepy, dark, terrifying, and exhilarating. It takes a lot from modern horror games and movies, and yet it maintains its survival horror and action roots in perfect harmony. I love how it goes back to the basics with a new character exploring an isolated house full of monsters, just like in the original RE, while feeling completely different at the same time.
It’s absolutely amazing that Capcom is still able to surprise and delight its fans even after 25 years. Capcom, I wish you and the fans another 25 years of great RE games. Cheers!
David Chateauneuf, Co-Founder at Red Barrels (Outlast, Outlast II)
Humoristicly I would say... “damn f**king windows!” But Resident Evil is much more than that, and to me, it represents a wonderful piece of art. We cannot define the quality of a game, especially a horror game, by a single feature, a single event, or a single scare jump. Since its first apparition in the ’90s, Resident Evil has brought the horror industry many different methods to scare the sh*t out of us, and it has continued to find innovative ways to keep scaring us 25 years later. And it has bloody worked!
With the heavy atmosphere, the camera view, the limited control of our character, and the incredible balance between the number of bullets versus the number of zombie brains, Resident Evil did everything that most other games would not dare to do. Being able to keep players intrigued and continuously asking for more all these years later with that same and unique title means A LOT. It shows that the intelligence of the production teams' brains is in complete opposition with the brains of the zombies that they created! Thank you Resident Evil!
Jordan Woodward, Lead Level Designer at Rebellion (Zombie Army 4: Dead War)
Congratulations to Resi for 25 years of creating gripping, tense and brilliant horror! Many of us at Rebellion are big fans of the horror genre and obviously zombies! It’s impossible to talk about horror and zombies without the Resident Evil franchise coming to mind. The series provides classic escapism and edge-of-your-seat gameplay for horror lovers, within a framing that is easily understandable. As the years have passed, the series has been through many changes and explored different directions, but each step has bought us innovation and dozens of iconic puzzles, monsters and locations.
Resident Evil to me, is foremost one of the main pioneers and innovators within the survival and survival horror genres and really brought horror games to a massive audience, at a point in time when gaming was transitioning from bedrooms to living rooms. There were horror games before it, but Resi really lit the torch and set the bar for tense, genuinely unsettling gameplay and there are thousands of people in the game and film industries and countless projects that owe Resident Evil a great deal of gratitude for their inspiration over the years. This includes the Zombie Army team at Rebellion – we’re big fans of the series and eagle-eyed players may find a friendly nod and Resident Evil reference in Zombie Army 4: Dead War!
The thing I personally admire most about the franchise is that it hasn't been afraid to reinvent itself and evolve over the years. The first three main series games had a very distinct feel to them and had really mastered their craft, then 4 came along and changed a lot of people's conceptions about what made a Resident Evil game, it was iconic and is generally thought of as one of the best in the series by fans. I think we saw that again recently with 7 - it still has that distinct Resident Evil feel to it, staying true to what fans love but from a completely new perspective – evolving and exploring new technologies such as VR to increase immersion and the heart-pumping horror experience. It's brave to take a well-loved series, like Resident Evil and make fundamental changes but they're not afraid to be creative and explore a new avenue and it really pays off.
Philip Tibitoski, President at Young Horses (Bugsnax, Octodad: Dadliest Catch)
I was only 10 years old when Resident Evil 2 came out, and it was one of the first exciting media experiences I had where I felt like I was playing something I shouldn't have been allowed to play. Also there's something about solving puzzles in those games while also constantly being a little paranoid that something is going to jump out at you that makes them feel special. Playing them in the dark in my basement is a pretty vivid memory of mine.
John Murphy, Gameplay Designer at Young Horses (Bugsnax, Octodad: Dadliest Catch)
When I got my PlayStation the first game I played was Resident Evil 2. It was the first game I played that felt truly cinematic, and it blew my mind. The fixed camera angles created such amazing tension and suspense. The Raccoon City Police Department, with its powerfully moody vibe, is one of the most memorable environments in the history of games. And the moment with the Licker in the interrogation room is such a vivid and permanent memory that I'll probably be thinking about it on my death bed.
Kris Piotrowski, Creative Director at CAPY Games (Below, Grindstone)
Resident Evil was one of the first games to really scare the pants off of me. I’ve always had a lot of love for horror films, and I’ve been a big fan of George A. Romero’s legendary zombie flicks, so playing Resident Evil for the first time really made a huge impact on me. It showed me just how terrifying and intense horror could get in video game form, and brilliantly utilized filmic techniques to create a uniquely cinematic horror video game experience. The original Resident Evil was a ground-breaking title that laid down the foundation of video game horror, and modern-day titles like Resident Evil 7 in VR still push the boundaries of the genre to this day.
Kaitlin Tremblay, Lead Narrative Designer at CAPY Games (Below, Grindstone)
Resident Evil: Code Veronica was one of the first games where I really saw myself in a character. I was young, I had older brothers, and I loved monsters, horror, and haunted houses more than anything. Playing as Claire, going to rescue her older brother from a spooky island just felt like it was speaking to me directly. Claire would go to the ends of the earth to rescue Chris, and the fact that she was a younger sister wasn’t a strike against her capability, her confidence, or her ability to protect her brother. Playing other games growing up, I always felt like I had to compromise my identity to insert myself into the fantasy of that game. I never felt like the hero because the hero didn’t look like me or resemble my experience at all.
So getting a whole game dedicated to playing as Claire fighting off abject monsters in Code Veronica made me feel like I belonged, like I was the intended audience for this game. And it made me want to make games or write stories where other folks could feel like they were the hero. I love Code Veronica because I’m a younger sister who loves haunted houses, so there really wasn’t a more perfect game for me at a time when I really needed to see myself in the characters I was playing as.
Aleksander Borszowski, Writer and Game Designer at Draw Distance (Vampire: The Masquerade - Shadows of New York)
To me, Resident Evil represents the essence of feel-good horror: a cinematic fantasy where beautiful people visit evocative locales to face our worst nightmares, from seemingly unstoppable corporate machinations to our own treacherous biology, and score an uplifting victory. Its aesthetic marries the Japanese school of design with tasteful western cinema influences in a uniquely interesting way – I'm happy about how the promotional materials of RE: Village obviously owe a lot to Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula and how its home invasion scene seems to be staged as a homage to Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, one of the most underrated movies of the last decade.
If forced to pick my favorite title in the saga, I'd waver between two obvious picks: the jaw-droppingly beautiful and cleverly redesigned GameCube remake of the original game or Resident Evil 4, whose scares quickly give way to discovering some of the most endlessly delightful combat scenarios in video games (most horror games eventually become pure action games as one grows familiar with the dread, but it's rare that the action reveals itself to be so good). Still, even with these two absolute classics, some of my best memories of the series are related to some smaller, weirder, usually more divisive works.
I'm thinking of The Mercenaries 3D and how long college commutes unexpectedly turned it into my most played 3DS game of all time – the most addictive bonus mode I can think of, arcade-like joy of constant playstyle optimization. I'm thinking of Resident Evil 6 and how mastering its intricate combat system in its own version of The Mercenaries made me and my partner feel like masters of gun kata, which in turn led us to appreciate the controversial, absurdly bombastic campaign for all the interesting contexts it provided for our calculated shootouts. Resident Evil: Dead Aim by Cavia, one-of-a-kind creators of odd, unpolished gems with a unique sense of melancholy. Gun Survivor 2 with its “VS. Roach Mode”, possibly the funniest moment in the history of Resident Evil. Outbreak, absolutely ahead of its time with its online focus and deserving of a second chance. Even Umbrella Corps, which I've been lucky enough to experience with a group of open-minded players who were able to look past the lack of polish, revealed a very original and exciting web of interconnected rock-paper-shotgun multiplayer mechanics upon closer inspection.
And, last but not least: Paul W.S. Anderson's movie adaptations. Blanket dismissals of those never fail to make me sad – PWSA is one of the few modern action filmmakers who truly thinks in images (I adore how the entire middle stretch of his take on Monster Hunter is almost wordless) and I've been glad to see him achieve a cult status among hardcore cinephiles across the years. The pop veneer of Alice’s story masks uneasy questions about how we construct our identity while living in the modern world – some fans might doubt if it’s “Resident Evil”, but if you read the part where I explain what the series represents to me again, you’ll see why I have no doubt that it is.
Ido Tal, Co-Founder and Producer at We Create Stuff (In Sound Mind)
The fun thing about the Resident Evil series is that brilliant video game design is contagious. They inspire generations of gamers and game designers to build upon those ideas and innovate further. Evidently, the RE series has shaped much of our own work today, as indie horror developers. I think in this way RE is a hallmark in horror video game history.
Joss Herraez, PR and Communications Manager at Frontier Developments (Elite Dangerous)
Resident Evil holds a very special place in my heart, to the point of having had a direct impact on my decision to pursue a career in video games. Resident Evil was the first game I purchased with my brand new PlayStation One back in the day, and it was miles ahead of anything I had experienced before. I immediately fell in love with all STARS team members, their multiple storylines, and endeavoured for weeks to uncover all the secrets the Spencer Mansion hid.
Inevitably, I was instantly hyped when news about Resident Evil 2 started to slowly drip in — back in the pre-internet dark ages, you had to wait for your monthly print magazines to arrive in the hopes of finding out more information about your favourite games. When Resident Evil 2 was finally released in 1998, I was second in the queue in the pre-sale event the publisher organized in one of the most prominent video games retail stores in Madrid. Failing to be the first person to buy Resident Evil 2 in the country meant that I missed the glory of the official photocall, but while the press took pictures of the guy who beat me to get there first some six hours before me, I had the chance to chat with the ace marketing team who had worked on organizing that amazing game premiere. It turned out they were huge Resident Evil fans too, and had even been involved in Resident Evil 2’s localization process, travelling all the way to Capcom’s office in Japan to offer advice on the Spanish translations. Those guys surely had the best jobs in the world!
And thus, I decided, there and then, to pursue a career in video games and work on a future Resident Evil title! The latter never happened, but I count myself among the fortunate ones, for now I have the best job in the world too! – I even got to work with that very same Resident Evil 2 Spanish team in my SEGA days! Small world.
To this day, the launch of a new instalment of the Resident Evil saga is still a meaningful event for me. I really can’t wait for May to arrive and finally meet Madame Dimitrescu.
Mokka, Senior Marketing Manager at 24 Entertainment (Naraka: Bladepoint)
I will start by confessing that I am definitely not a huge horror game fan, but Resident Evil is indeed something unique. Even though I played many Resident Evil games back when I was a kid, I still get impressed with the gameplay every time a new version comes out. Resident Evil has this special charm that I was constantly addicted to the gameplay despite knowing I will undoubtedly be scared by it. I still remember my first encounter with Mr X (Tyrant) in Resident Evil 2, when this man just single handly lifted a crashed helicopter and walked towards me. The combination of his massive appearance and the daunting footsteps was one of the most terrifying moments I remembered in Resident Evil, not to mention that you will continuously hear these footsteps throughout the game's progress.
Even after my years of experience in the gaming industry, I still enjoy all the series' atmosphere and story settings, with Resident Evil 7 being a prime example. The game was so much more realistic in VR mode, and I literally wanted to quit the game before I even entered the house. I particularly remember the kitchen and dinner scene from the game, where I was screaming and running as if I was really my character Ethan. Like many other players, all these experiences I had will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I sincerely hope that the Resident Evil series could keep shinning and bring more happiness and scariness to its fan base.
We would like to thank every single developer who took the time to submit their Resident Evil memories and thoughts for this piece. We would also like to thank the PR outlets who made this possible. Whose memories and thoughts concerning the Resident Evil series after 25 years do you identify with the most? Which entry is your favourite? Share your own Resident Evil memories in the comments below.