You’re going to see a lot of articles about Resident Evil in the next few weeks, and with good reason. The long-awaited, hotly-anticipated “Resident Evil: Village” is coming out in May and threatens (“threatens” is always the right word with “Resident Evil”) to be the highlight of the year for gamers. Although there have been more than twenty games released under the “Resident Evil” banner thus far, “Village” is the official eighth instalment in the linear storyline. How much or how little it relates to its predecessors remains to be seen. We’ll all discover that together when the game comes out.
As we’re about to get a new entry in the “Resident Evil” canon, we thought this would be a good opportunity to run the rule over the previous games and see if we can work out which were the best of them. For this, we’ll be restricting ourselves to console games only. We know there are mobile games, and we’re also aware that there’s an online slots version of “Resident Evil 6.” We have no doubt that they’ve brought a lot of joy to players – especially those who’ve won money on the online slots version! If we included every spin-off game and side-attraction, though, we’d be here all day. You’re welcome to go to Pink Casino if you want to find out whether it’s your lucky day on the bandits. We’re also ignoring the remakes. We know they’re great, but they’re a fresh coat of paint applied to a previous game.
Here and now, we’re focusing on the “core” entries in the long-running franchise. Let’s get into it!
It would be wrong not to include the very first “Resident Evil” game on our list. Without it, we wouldn’t be where we are today. When it was released for the original PlayStation console, it changed everything as far as survival horror games go. No game had ever created more suspense or been more frightening. It still plays well today, and it’s hard to believe that it’s now twenty-five years old. Yes, the graphics now look dated. Yes, the voice acting is wooden. That doesn’t take anything away from the gameplay mechanics. This was the first high-profile game that sometimes rewarded you for intelligently hiding from enemies instead of trying to kill them all and taught us how to pick our battles and manage ammo. It’s the origin point of a franchise that became legendary.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
This was the last “Resident Evil” game to appear on the original PlayStation and was deemed “divisive” at the time of its release. A few fans felt it was too linear. They might have had a point. The game intended to round off the story of Jill Valentine and give the character a way out of the horrors she faced forever, and so the focus on the story might have come at the cost of some of the freedoms players had enjoyed in the previous two games. On the other hand, it introduced us to Nemesis and scared the wits out of us by allowing him to break through walls in his pursuit of us. Without “Resident Evil 3,” Jill Valentine doesn’t become a video game icon.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Like most long-running video game franchises, “Resident Evil” has had low points. Those low points were (arguably) the fifth and sixth games. “Resident Evil 7” was the shot in the arm the franchise so desperately needed. Its success made “Resident Evil 8” possible. Capcom decided to cut ties with much of the established lore of the “Resident Evil” story and give us something new, with new characters and new scenarios. It probably borrowed (more than) a little inspiration from a horror movie or two (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” we’re looking at you), but we’re willing to forgive that. The most important thing is that it made “Resident Evil” frightening again. It was always the fear factor that separated the better “Resident Evil” games from your average action-adventure games, and this was the instalment that brought it back.
Resident Evil 4
At the risk of making a controversial statement, this was the last good “Resident Evil” game until “Resident Evil 7” came out in 2017. We’re not alone in that opinion; Den of Geek loved it so much that they claimed it had changed horror gaming forever. Based on what we know about the plot of “Resident Evil 8,” you could almost consider “Resident Evil 4” a template for it. It’s even set in a village! The final stages of the game (let’s be honest, we’ve all sworn at some of the traps in that Spanish castle out of sheer frustration) might be a little “over the top” even by “Resident Evil” standards, but Capcom got away with it because it was so much fun to play. There are rumours that this is the next “Resident Evil” game from the past that stands in line to get a modern-day remake. We’d welcome it so long as the fundamental things that made it so great aren’t tampered with in the process.
Resident Evil 2
A band will tell you that the second album is always the hardest one to make. An author will tell you the same thing about books. It’s no different for video game developers and their franchises. “Resident Evil 2” was a banana peel for Capcom. If they’d got it wrong, the series would have died in 1998 and might well have been forgotten by now. Fortunately for them and for us, they stepped around the banana peel and gave us one of the greatest video games ever released for any platform. It’s in this game that we meet Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy for the first time. It’s also in this game that we get to know Raccoon City for the first time, breaking out of the Spencer Mansion and escaping into the zombie-littered streets around it. It’s also the game that gave us “Licker,” and you’ve never died a horrible death at Licker’s hands we suspect you’ve been cheating. “Resident Evil 2” is old, but in our eyes (and hands), it’s the most fun version of the game to play, and therefore the standout pick of the entire series.