Posted January 25, 2017 by Dian Raval in Gaming

The Evolution of RESIDENT EVIL


Don’t let the number in the title fool you. Resident Evil 7 is actually the 24th entry in the series, and that’s not even counting the 6 films based on the titular franchise. Since it’s debut in 1996, Resident Evil have terrified, entertained, and even disappointed fans the world over. Resident Evil has dramatically evolved over the course of two decades with the latest installment even being the first in the series to provide a full VR experience. Now, as we celebrate Resident Evil 7’s release, we take a quick look at the series’ evolving history in hope of understanding the idea behind Capcom’s new direction for the franchise.


Let’s start with where it all began: The original Resident Evil(1996). In the early nineties, there already were existing survival horror games, but at the time, the genre wasn’t clearly defined. Though Alone in the Dark may have been the first actual 3D survival horror game, it wasn’t until the first Resident Evil came out that gamers finally experienced a genuinely scary survival horror game. With devilish controls designed to slow you down, jump scares you wouldn’t know what to do with, and perhaps the spookiest loading screen ever, we have to admit that despite the shoddy voice acting, it


Resident Evil ushered in a new desire for the lost genre, resulting in a stream of survival horror games from countless other developers. Naturally, Resident Evil 2(1998) was released followed by Resident Evil 3: Nemesis a year later. Resident Evil 2 expanded nearly all aspects of the original, had a greater emphasis to the story and incorporated significant graphical improvements. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, on the other hand, can be considered as the beginning of Capcom’s vision of Resident Evil being more action-oriented. Though much of the game is relatively the same as the previous games, it featured a larger number of enemies and introduced Nemesis. The infamous creature that pursues the player all throughout the entire game.The shift towards the next(6th) console generation was a big one. This colossal leap allowed Capcom to ditch pre-rendered environments and incorporate new lighting effects to further improve the atmosphere. Resident Evil – Code Veronica(2000) –being the first to demonstrate it– was met with great reception. So great, in fact, that series creator Shinji Mikami was convinced that the original game needed to be remade and even did so spectacularly for the GameCube. Though both of these games were generally considered to be good, neither really did anything new for the franchise. They were in desperate need for new direction.


That’s when Resident Evil 4 comes in. Right off the bat, it was clear to everyone that this was going to be different. The action-oriented approach they first hinted at in RE3: Nemesis really starts to kick off in RE4. Gone are the fixed camera angles, instead, they went for an over-the-shoulder approach that was done so well, it single-handedly brought about a resurgence of the style. Cut scenes are now much more cinematic. Heck, even the voice acting was great. Resident Evil 4 really rejuvenated the franchise.


Naturally, Resident Evil 5 proceeded with this new direction, going on to be the best-selling Resident Evil game and even the all-time best-selling Capcom game altogether. It’s clear that this is largely attributed to Resident Evil 4’s success because despite it’s earned accolades, it showed concerning signs that the series’ new focus on action may have compromised the survival horror. It wasn’t until Resident Evil 6 came out that it became evident. Capcom even dubbed it “dramatic horror” so it wasn’t even survival horror in the literal sense anymore. After Resident Evil 6’s reception, Capcom once again finds itself in desperate need of new direction.


This time, Capcom realizes that the franchise needed to stick to its survival horror roots. Maybe it didn’t even need big environments or flashy features, just a really evil residence. They knew that this direction needed to be engaging, immersive, and jump-out-your-seat scary. And with the rise of VR and it’s incredible capacity for immersion, it became clear that this was the new direction they’ve been looking for.Thus, Resident Evil 7 is born. Though first person survival horror games are in no short supply, Capcom brought the genre to unprecedented heights with RE7, delivering a stellar triple-A experience designed the scare anyone willing to brave it.


There you have it. The Resident Evil franchise persisted through the years by being dynamic and ever changing.Who knows, maybe in a couple years the genre will evolve once more –and if history is any indicator, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Resident Evil franchise will have a hand in it.

Dian Raval

Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.