With the recent release of the highly anticipated Resident Evil 4 Remake, it’s time to dust off our typewriters, save some games, and take a stroll down the terror-filled memory lane of the Resident Evil series. This groundbreaking series defined the survival horror genre, cementing games as one of the best ways to get your creepy, jumpscare, terror fix.
Whether you’re new to the series or want to reminisce with us, here are the 5 best titles in Capcom’s critically acclaimed Resident Evil series
Resident Evil 2 (1998)
Though not the first title, the original Resident Evil 2 set the standard for the series with its eerie atmosphere, unforgettable characters, and gut-wrenching story. Set in the zombie-infested Raccoon City, you assume the roles of rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield as they attempt to escape the T-Virus outbreak.
With its revolutionary graphics (for the time) and nail-biting gameplay, this game still stands as one of the best entries in the series. The game introduced the “zapping system,” allowing you to experience the story from both characters’ perspectives, with choices made by one character affecting the other’s playthrough. The 2019 remake also did a fantastic job reimagining this classic through the digital lens of the RE Engine but nothing can beat the original’s charm.
Resident Evil 4 (2005)
Before the shiny new remake, there was the groundbreaking original Resident Evil 4. With Leon S. Kennedy returning as the protagonist, the game took a bold turn by switching to an over-the-shoulder camera angle, providing a more immersive and intense experience. The introduction of the Las Plagas parasite and the mysterious Los Illuminados cult added a fresh twist to the series’s horror aspects, as well.
RE4 is praised for its perfect blend of action and horror, as well as its unforgettable boss battles. The game also introduced the innovative “context-sensitive action” system, where you could interact with the environment in various ways, such as kicking down ladders or dodging enemy attacks. And, let’s not forget our favorite merchant who always seems to have what we need.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017)
This entry took the series back to its survival horror roots with a first-person perspective, an eerie setting, and a chilling story. This time, you take on the role of Ethan Winters, who finds himself trapped in a derelict plantation in Louisiana, inhabited by the deranged Baker family.
With its unique VR support and its focus on exploration and puzzle-solving, RE7 brought a breath of fresh air to the series and reinvigorated fans’ love for the franchise. The game introduced a new crafting system, allowing you to combine items to create ammo, health items, and other useful tools, adding a strategic layer to resource management.
Resident Evil (1996)
The PS1 classic that started it all. The original Resident Evil introduced us to the iconic characters, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, as they explore the eerie Spencer Mansion filled with zombies and other grotesque creatures. Known for its fixed camera angles, limited inventory space, and infamous “Jill Sandwich” line, the game paved the way for survival horror as we know it.
One of the most iconic mechanics of the game is the “Ink Ribbon” save system, where you must find and use these limited resources to save your progress, creating a tense risk-reward dynamic. The 2002 GameCube remake and the 2015 remastered version also deserve a shout-out for enhancing the experience with updated graphics and gameplay mechanics.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999)
One of the most unforgettable entries in the series, the original RE3 allowed you to take control of the resourceful Jill Valentine as she tried to escape the doomed Raccoon City and the ever-present Nemesis. With its innovative “Live Selection” system, you could make split-second decisions that affected the story’s outcome.
Beyond that, RE3 is known for its fast-paced gameplay, challenging enemy AI, and, of course, the anxiety-inducing presence of Nemesis who came bursting onto the scene unannounced at the most inconvenient of times. This game introduced the “Dodge” mechanic, which allowed you to avoid enemy attacks with well-timed button presses, adding a layer of skill and strategy to combat. The 2020 remake ramped up the action and brought new life to this classic entry, featuring an expanded city area and a more agile Jill Valentine.