HomeEditorialThe History of Resident Evil: Evolution of a Timeless Classic

The History of Resident Evil: Evolution of a Timeless Classic

Hold on tight and get ready for a spooky trip - Halloween can come!

With a success story that spans 27+ years and includes more than 30 games, newcomers to Resident Evil might need help finding the franchise’s beginning. We put together this video list for you, from the first to the most recent installment. Let’s have a look at Resident Evil’s history.


Many people associate the franchise with just a few parts of RE. But in addition to Resident Evil 2 and 3, Capcom has published numerous spin-offs that should also be mentioned when looking at the timeline of Resident Evil. Let’s dive right in.


The History of Resident Evil harbors more than 30 titles

The following chronological list gives you a good overview of the development of the series. We also go into the importance of each title for the franchise. Everything started in 1996…


1996 – Resident Evil

The title on the PS1 scared you back then, not only when you played it but also when you just watched it—the survival horror genre was born. While investigating gunfire, you encounter your first dead enemy, a disheveled man feasting on a teammate, Kenneth Sullivan. These early zombies were relentless and approached clumsily, often absorbing multiple bullets before falling. Players could conserve ammo by evading them, and their relentless pursuit and hungry moans added to the game’s tension and fear.

You can see a screenshot of the first installment that spawned the history of Resident Evil. The game is from 1996.
Screenshot of Resident Evil from 1996 (Source: Capcom)


1997 – Resident Evil Director’s Cut

If the permanent tense atmosphere of the first installment grabbed you, you can look forward to an enhanced edition that appeared a year later. The 1997 Director’s Cut adds additional content, difficulty levels, and secrets and increases replay value. With its panic-inducing level design and creepy sound, Resident Evil remains a standout horror game for the PS1, perfect for Halloween.


1998 – Resident Evil 2

Compared to the stiff zombies in Resident Evil 1, the sequel’s undead in RE 2 is much more agile and responsive, reacting to gunshot impacts by jerking and falling backward. This feature provides players a valuable moment to escape, which is crucial since RE 2 increases the number of enemies in each room.
However, these reactive zombies could also lunge towards the player, attempting to bite their legs before being dispatched. Additionally, RE 2 introduces a gruesome level of damage depiction, allowing players to obliterate zombies’ torsos with powerful weapons or even sever their upper bodies from their still-moving legs, creating a disturbing yet pitiful sight.


1999 – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

In Jill Valentine’s second starring game, the zombies share similarities with those from RE 2, but there are significant differences. RE 3 introduces the concept of multiple enemy types in the same room, mainly due to the presence of Nemesis, a relentless pursuer throughout the game. While Jill must navigate regular zombies, the towering Nemesis can push them aside effortlessly. Additionally, RE 2 introduces agile “ninja zombies” that blend in with regular ones but can suddenly lunge at Jill at high speed, posing a threat to wounded players who aren’t cautious enough.


2000 – Resident Evil Survivor

Many hadn’t heard of this game or were probably done with zombies after Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. But it’s worth taking a look at Resident Evil: Survivor. The game is fun, but left us wanting more. Although House of the Dead is a good alternative, it differs from a Resident Evil-style first-person shooter. A big drawback is the short game length of two hours without a proper save system. Older gamers would appreciate an updated version of this successful title.


2000 – Resident Evil – Code: Veronica

Code: Veronica represents a significant step forward in the history of Resident Evil by replacing the previously static 2D backgrounds with fully rendered 3D environments. However, the zombies in Claire and Chris Redfield’s sibling-centered journey retain their familiar behavior. While players may encounter the occasional ‘ninja zombie’ sprinting towards them, these undead foes largely adhere to the standard humanoid threats we’ve become accustomed to facing and eliminating.


2001 – Resident Evil Survivor 2 – Code: Veronica

Many consider Resident Evil Survivor 2 – Code: Veronica the worst title, and there’s a reason for that: Where Survivor still managed to pick up players with a certain Resident Evil charm and was quite captivating, this game throws all that Resident Evil identity in the gameplay overboard and is instead just a somewhat convoluted 30-minute arcade shooter that also has no voice acting for some inexplicable reason…so even the humor doesn’t stand a chance in the game.


2001 – Resident Evil Gaiden

Yes, Resident Evil Gaiden has its flaws, especially the cumbersome save system and some frustrating gameplay elements like inaccessible ammo. The frequent reappearance of enemies adds to the challenge and can be frustrating. Even though the game has been criticized, it must be understood that Resident Evil Gaiden was a genuine attempt to bring survival horror to hardware unsuitable for the task. In reality, the game contains clever ideas occasionally hindered by imperfect execution.


2002 – Resident Evil: Remake

Shinji Mikami, the series creator, has completely revamped the original Resident Evil game from 1996, introducing some fascinating and terrifying changes. First, the zombies behave similarly to their PlayStation predecessors, but now they can be stopped mid-attack with limited self-defense tools. For example, Jill can paralyze the zombies with a stun gun, while Chris can put grenades in their mouths to decapitate them instantly. In the RE remake, decapitating zombies is essential to prevent them from returning as Crimson Heads. These terrifying zombies add a new level of tension and unpredictability.


2002 – Resident Evil Zero

This prequel has a similar graphic style and gameplay to the 2002 remake but replaces the terrifying Crimson Heads with new zombies infested with leeches infected with the T-virus. These unusual slug collectives have increased aggressiveness and strength, requiring more powerful weapons than a pistol. Fortunately, incendiary weapons like napalm grenades prove effective. In RE: Zero, players control Rebecca and Billy and can switch between the two characters when necessary, providing extra firepower when facing standard undead with standard pistols.


2003 – Resident Evil: Dead Aim

This title has a relatively short duration of around three to four hours, which is decent for a light-gun game. However, its brevity and unconventional gameplay mechanics might leave many devoted Resident Evil enthusiasts feeling unfulfilled. On the other hand, fans of light-gun games may be more open to what Dead Aim offers since it provides a distinct and different light-gun gaming experience. While it may not stand out as the best installment in the history of Resident Evil, Dead Aim successfully merges elements of both genres, a noteworthy achievement.


2003 – Resident Evil Outbreak

Outbreak is set during the events of both Resident Evil 2 and 3. Although it undeniably captures the essence of a Resident Evil game, it suffers from some problems, such as below-average voice acting, an ineffective AI, and some cumbersome features (such as the impossibility of moving and aiming at the same time and long loading times) that affect the overall experience. Despite these problems, Outbreak is a mediocre title but not a must-have, especially compared to its successor.


2004 – Resident Evil Outbreak: File 2

Capcom’s first attempt to turn Resident Evil into a cooperative survival horror game had issues. Though not a hit, the second attempt found favor with series fans and became a cult classic. Resident Evil Outbreak, especially File #2, offers a thrilling experience with great content and clever ideas despite its flaws. It features eight characters surviving a zombie apocalypse in Raccoon City, with improved graphics, faster loading, and decent audio. The gameplay involves cooperation in item finding, puzzle-solving, and escaping the virus.


2005 – Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 by Mikami changed the game, revitalized the franchise, and changed third-person shooters. Although not officially zombies, the game features exceptional precision and realistic feedback. The infected Ganado enemies are aggressive, communicate in Spanish, and wield various weapons against Leon S. Kennedy. Players can strategically target limbs to take out enemies, detonate explosives, or incapacitate them. Decapitating Ganados can unleash deadly Las Plagas parasites that attack with scythe-like appendages.


2006 – Resident Evil Deadly Silence

This is an enhanced version of the ’96 Adventure for Nintendo DS, which means you can play the original game wherever and whenever you want. Look forward to the return of iconic silly dialogue, obtuse puzzles, and the typical typewriter memory system. If you’ve never played it, it’s worth experiencing. As a new game, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence isn’t that great, but it works very well as an adaptation.


2007 – Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

Umbrella Chronicles surprises in the Resident Evil history with a unique on-rails arcade shooter experience featuring a lot of RE content that will delight fans. With various weapons and 22 levels, it’s a worthwhile purchase for shooter fans. However, getting a Wii Zapper just for this game is not recommended. Despite some shortcomings, Capcom seems to have managed to create an entertaining Resident Evil spin-off. It doesn’t match the excellence of RE2 and RE4, but is still fun, especially in co-op.


2009 – Resident Evil 5

RE5 continues the core gunplay and design of RE4 but shifts the setting to Africa, where Chris and Sheva face Majini enemies who primarily use common guns. This introduces more cover-based combat while retaining close encounters. Like in RE4, Majini are infected with Plaga parasites, some of which detach and fly while others create armored shells. Players must target the vulnerable tail to defeat these armored Plagas. An important representative in the history of Resident Evil, as it also includes a strong co-op game.


2009 – Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is a commendable sequel to The Umbrella Chronicles, addressing narrative gaps with impressive visuals and immersive light-gun gameplay. Despite control trade-offs and occasionally lengthy story segments, particularly in Resident Evil 2, the game stays engaging thanks to improved visuals and dynamic camera work. While it has fewer alternate perspective bonus chapters than its predecessor, it offers plenty for Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil fans.


2011 – Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D offers enjoyable, fast-paced action, a steady stream of unlockable content, and engaging co-op play. However, it needs to improve due to occasional visual issues and an unforgiving save system that may diminish the value of second-hand copies. Additionally, if you’re not inclined to replay levels to improve your overall rating, the game might lose its appeal rather quickly.


2012 – Resident Evil: Revelations

Fans were pleasantly surprised by this high-quality Resident Evil side-story on Nintendo platforms. It brings back the series’ horror essence with Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield navigating a zombie-infested ship. The unique “Ooze” zombies, similar to RE: Zero’s Leech Zombies, require precise dodging as limb targeting doesn’t work. The zombies come in various forms with distinct attacks, including slashing, ranged, and explosive abilities.


2012 – Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

Operation Racoon City disappoints with weak AI and graphics below Resident Evil standards. Even Resident Evil 5, three years older, boasts better visuals. Monotonous night missions lack expected intensity, leading to repetitive level design. The game feels “cheap,” emphasizing its spin-off status due to a limited budget, giving an unfinished impression, likely released to create distance from the main successor—missed potential.


2012 – Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil 6 features two types of C-Virus-infected creatures. Regular zombies, infected indirectly, are similar to RE 4 and 5 foes but with reduced intelligence, wielding melee and firearms. J’avo, from direct C-Virus exposure, are organized and can unpredictably regenerate lost body parts, including heads turning into creatures that spit sticky fluid or developing various limb transformations like slicing blades, poisonous gas, pincers, or wings. J’avo are formidable and keep players on edge. The remastered version provides a solid co-op experience for up to 6 players.


2015 – Resident Evil HD Remaster

While the original Resident Evil was captivating in its time, its controls are out of sync with today’s gaming standards. It does hold nostalgic appeal, but it’s important to note that even in the Remaster Edition, Resident Evil remains disconnected from modern game design principles. But if you are a true RE veteran, then go for it!


2015 – Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Revelations 2 is a damn good series comeback. It combines classic puzzle-solving and survival horror with a modern over-the-shoulder perspective for a genuinely menacing experience. The need to switch between characters is a drawback, but the intriguing story, stunning environments, and solid gameplay compensate for these flaws, making it a compelling addition to the series. An insider tip for co-op fun on the Nintendo Switch!


2016 – Resident Evil 0: HD Remaster

Resident Evil Zero retains the essence of the original game’s enjoyment. It features impressive visuals, but control issues from the past can be frustrating initially. However, as you adapt, these frustrations fade. While the formula might become tiresome, including Wesker’s abilities adds excitement, making it a unique and engaging experience.


2016 – Resident Evil: Umbrella Corps

Umbrella Corps is a flawed game with good ideas marred by issues. While it has attractive graphics and promising concepts, it struggles in execution. It suffers from conflicting mechanics, poor level design, balance problems, technical issues, and lacks depth in content. Single-player missions are an afterthought. It falls short as both a Resident Evil game and a multiplayer shooter, feeling like a rushed cash grab.


2017 – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Resident Evil 7 marked a significant shift in the franchise following a series of disappointing titles. It introduced a first-person perspective, a detailed setting, and a cast of imposing characters. This installment returned to the survival horror roots that defined the series, making it one of the standout modern horror games.


2019 – Resident Evil 2 (Remake)

The Resident Evil 2 Remake successfully captures the charm and strengths of the 1998 original while balancing old-school and modern elements. Capcom modernized aspects that needed it, retaining the classic inventory management, puzzles, and backtracking, pleasing series veterans. The game is technically impressive, with minor issues like clipping errors or occasional texture blurriness. This is what remakes must look like!


2020 – Resident Evil 3 (Remake)

Resident Evil 3 has criticisms but excels in delivering a highly atmospheric horror experience. Unlike its predecessor, it emphasizes impending danger from Nemesis, formidable Hunters, and hordes of zombies rather than survival tension. Your enjoyment of Resident Evil 3 depends on your preference as a horror fan. If you lean toward action, you’ll find joy in this well-made remake despite its listed weaknesses.


2020 – Resident Evil: Resistance

This game is a decent but pretty unimpressive multiplayer experience. In each match, five players participate, with four controlling typical teen horror characters and one taking on the role of the Mastermind, who is a Resident Evil antagonist. The gameplay involves the survivors attempting to escape complex puzzle areas filled with traps and monsters, orchestrated by the Mastermind, in a scenario reminiscent of Saw-like experiments.


2021 – Resident Evil Village

RE8 is an action-horror adventure set in a vast environment, encompassing the village, the castle, and other diverse surrounding areas. The storyline seamlessly continues from the seventh installment and is impressively executed. Unlike its predecessor, RE Village incorporates more action while maintaining the perfect blend of horror atmosphere and flair, consistent with the series’ tradition.

In Resident Evil Village, we no longer play in the third person but in the first person view and fight werewolves.
Resident Evil Village screenshot (Source: Capcom)


2023 – Resident Evil 4 Remake

Resident Evil 4 Remake is an outstanding masterpiece as the latest installment, and more than lives up to the 2005 original. It impresses all along the line with well-designed controls, a captivating atmosphere, varied environments, and captivating enemies. The title offers a decent challenge on the “Standard” difficulty level and introduces an evolving enemy system that adds depth. The bosses are not extremely difficult, but the series’ essence remains intact. Look forward to 15-20 hours of gameplay and exciting multiplayer battles for even more fun.

That was our Resident Evil history overview with a whopping 32 titles – from the original to the brand new and critically acclaimed Resident Evil 4 remake. Do you want to know on which platforms the title runs? Our Resident Evil evolution video at the top reveals it.

It’s unbelievable how many games have been released so far. Without a doubt, Capcom will build on the success of RE8 and continue to push the core series. And, since RE 4 Remake is currently the most successful title, the next logical step can only be a Resident Evil 5 Remake, meaning…friends of horror co-op can also be excited.


Speaking of multiplayer horror action

With a few exceptions, multiplayer has been relatively mediocre in RE titles. If you want creepy multiplayer experiences, check out our Free Horror Games or Co-op horror games.

Lies of P is a brand new souls-like…and proves once again that dolls can be scary as hell. You can find helpful tricks to master this challenging game in our Lies of P Guide for Beginners.


Which Resident Evil do you like best? For how long do you already follow its history? Feel free to drop a comment below.

Do you like our content? Help us improve:


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Most recent