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THE EVOLUTION OF THE RESIDENT EVIL GAME SERIES

A look into the majestic, yet haunting Spencer Mansion from the Resident Evil game.
Image via Capcom

Avid fans will recognize that the Resident Evil series is a reimagining of Tokuro Fujiwara's 1989 game, Sweet Home. It has defined a genre in gaming and mainstream media and has undergone several changes since its inception. The franchise has also laid the groundwork for other popular games, such as Dead Space and Fallout. Visit our online gaming blog to learn more about these games.


From its modest beginnings in the mysterious Spencer mansion to the well-received Resident Evil 4 remake, the franchise has consistently pushed the envelope vis-à-vis the survival horror genre. Below is an exploration of this game franchise, from a humble mansion to a sprawling universe.



Resident Evil (1996): The First, the Great, the Ultimate OG

The first-ever Resident Evil plunged players head-first into the enigmatic Spencer mansion teeming with zombies, challenging puzzles, and a gripping storyline. It offered an immersive experience, which was a rare feat for video games at the time.


This inaugural installment laid the groundwork for the series, introducing iconic characters like Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield. The game's fixed camera setup, utilization of 3D character models, yet another rare feat, and the resurrection of zombies in mainstream media would forever change the horror genre.



Resident Evil 2 (1998): More of the Same

Striking while the iron was hot, Resident Evil 2 built on the existing narrative by offering dual perspectives through Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. The introduction of the relentless pursuer, Mr. X, added a new layer of suspense and heart-pounding terror to the entire sequence of events.


Although it leaned more towards reiteration than innovation and mostly piggy-backed on its predecessor’s success, Resident Evil 2 solidified its status as one of the best games ever made, earning praise for its atmospheric ambiance, intricate puzzles, and compelling narrative.



Nemesis (1999): The Final Hurrah of the Century


Nemesis, the formidable bio-organic weapon from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, wields a flaming weapon.
Image via Capcom

Just a year later, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis continued the saga with fan-favorite Jill Valentine and introduced the formidable Nemesis, an unyielding antagonist who was likened to the Terminator by one critic. We can see why since both are less ‘characters with feelings and motivations’ and more ‘weapons of destruction’. 


Nemesis is a bio-organic weapon created by the sinister Umbrella Corporation as part of their Tyrant project. Unlike traditional zombies, Nemesis is an intelligent and highly adaptive creature designed to hunt down and eliminate surviving members of the Special Tactics and Rescue Service (STARS) in Raccoon City.


The presence of Nemesis added a significant layer of tension and fear to Resident Evil 3, as players must constantly evade and come up with new gaming strategies to survive its relentless pursuit. Despite the installment facing criticism for its brevity, the villain has become iconic in the series, leaving a lasting impression on fans as one of the most memorable and fearsome creatures encountered in the Resident Evil games.



The Remake + Resident Evil 0 (2002): Good Things Come in Pairs

In a strategic move, Capcom opted to remake the original Resident Evil and introduce Resident Evil 0, showcasing a commitment to breathing new life into the series. 


Both games garnered acclaim for their contemporary presentation, enhanced graphics, and flawless sound design. The remake, in particular, received praise for replicating the original's look and feel while modernizing it. 


Despite the acclaim, both the remake and RE0 couldn’t surpass the sales of Nemesis or even the OG Resident Evil, prompting Capcom to reassess its strategy for the subsequent installment.



Resident Evil 4 (2005): The Best in Game Development 

Resident Evil 4 marked a turning point by embracing a more action-oriented approach. The introduction of an over-the-shoulder camera and the innovative buddy system with Ashley transformed the series' dynamics. 


Considered one of the most influential games of the 2000s, RE4 not only reinvented the series but also forever altered the landscape of the survival horror genre. It defied established conventions, inspiring subsequent titles such as The Last of Us and God of War, which went on to become successful titles in their own right.



Resident Evil 5 (2009): Gaining Momentum


Resident Evil 5 characters Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar are armed and standing back-to-back in cooperative action.
Image via Capcom

Resident Evil 5 continued the pace set by RE4. It, too, featured action-heavy gameplay and retained many other mechanics from its predecessor, including the over-the-shoulder camera setup.


However, RE5 also marked the series' departure from its survival horror roots. The introduction of a two-player co-op mode was a significant change, building on the Leon and Ashley dynamics from RE4. 


The installment mostly received praise for breaking the mold, being more character-driven, and sleek action sequences. However, purists voiced discontent with the deviation from its original essence.



Resident Evil 6 (2012): Four Discrete Campaigns 

Resident Evil 6 marked another turning point, albeit for the wrong reasons. With four separate campaigns featuring characters like Leon, Chris, Ada, and more, the game's narrative became fragmented, losing the once-isolated feel of the Resident Evil games. 


The emphasis on action over survival horror was criticized for going too far, and each campaign was deemed incomplete and out of place. In hindsight, the new format did address the criticism regarding the length of gameplay, stretching it from a maximum of seven hours to a whopping 30 hours.



Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017): The Ethan Winters Era


A screenshot from Resident Evil 7, capturing the eerie atmosphere of the Baker house.
Image via Capcom

In an attempt to save the series and steer it back to its roots, Capcom initially conceived RE7 as an action-heavy title like RE6. However, following the lukewarm reception of RE6, Capcom did an about-turn, and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard got a complete reset. 


Introducing a first-person perspective to a mainline Resident Evil title for the first time, it successfully rekindled the isolated and authentic survival horror feel of the original games. The Baker house design and the introduction of a beloved new character, Ethan Winters, earned widespread acclaim.



Resident Evil 2 and 3 Remakes (2019–2020): The Success Continues

Prior to the next mainline entry, Capcom released remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3. These remakes successfully modernized the OG titles while retaining everything that made them great, including the survival horror feels. Some critics even hailed the RE2 remake as the best survival horror game of all time.



Village (2021): More Survival Horror and Action

Resident Evil 8 continued the narrative established in RE7, maintaining the survival horror focus while injecting more action elements. The return of Chris Redfield and the diverse cast of characters earned acclaim, though puzzles and boss fights faced mixed reception. 


Nonetheless, the game struck a balance between action and methodical gameplay, receiving praise for its design, character variety, and enemy diversity.



Resident Evil 4 Remake (2023): 

The Resident Evil 4 remake promised a reimagined experience with redesigned characters, a more cohesive story, and a serious tone. Announced around the same time as the RE3 remake, this remake was released in March 2023 on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. It currently has a high 8.0 score on Metacritic, and we can totally see why.


Similar to previous remakes, the RE4 remake retains everything that made the original RE4 great: The atmosphere and tone of the sequences. At the same time, this installment has modernized the visuals and sound design, introduced new mechanics, and reimagined the challenges to keep the players, especially those who played the OG, guessing.



Ape Odyssey: The Best Online Gaming Blog for Resident Evil Strategy Guides

Conquer the sprawling universe of Resident Evil. Beat the baddies and surpass any challenge that comes your way by following gaming tips and tricks by a community of game enthusiasts, some of whom have even played the older games in this franchise. Stay tuned for more videos and gaming news, and follow us on Facebook for regular updates.

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