Resident Evil has been a gaming staple for more than two decades now – and the medium owes an immense amount of gratitude to Capcom’s horror-infused, zombie-infested third-person action series. Now, Resident Evil didn’t quite invent survival-horror… but it certainly made the term mainstream, and popularized the genre on consoles. And, of course, it made the “big scare” cool; a slew of imitators appeared in the following years, but none of them delivered with quite the same style and panache. Whittling down a list of the five biggest scares in the HD remakes of Resident Evil and Resident Evil Zero on Xbox One (also now available in the Resident Evil Origins Collection retail package) wasn’t easy, but we’re giving it a shot.
Resident Evil: Hound in the House
We have to start out with the moment that really made Resident Evil as a franchise. True, some might argue that the initial encounter with the zombie who munches on one of your fallen comrades and slowly turns toward the camera with a vacant stare should top the list – and while that still sends shivers up our spine, that wasn’t anything new. Gamers had seen zombies before, after all… but they hadn’t really witnessed an attempt at the cinematic scare in the tradition of Hitchcock and Romero. Capcom masterfully achieved that in the first Resident Evil by expertly combining the right camera angle, the right lighting, and – most importantly – the right timing by lulling the player into a false sense of security before releasing the hounds (quite literally, as they suddenly crashed through the window). Of course, even if you’ve dropped your controller with fright from this moment before, Resident Evil offers a few twists on hound-induced horror. We won’t spoil what’s in store for S.T.A.R.S. members Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Barry Burton this time around; you’ve got to play it to find out.
Resident Evil Zero: Zombie in the Fridge
Resident Evil has given us zombies on the staircase, zombies in the closet, and even zombies crawling on the floor. But Resident Evil Zero, the prequel adventure starring S.T.A.R.S. medic Rebecca Chambers and ex-Marine Billy Coen, delivers a zombie in a place you’d never expect: the refrigerator. It’s a twist on the jump scares in the original Resident Evil, but while some of us might have had dogs leap at us in real life, it’s safe to say that none of us have experienced a stranger burst out of the fridge and come rushing toward us, ready to take a bite out of our arm. As for where this refrigerator’s located? Ha! We’re not giving you any clues. Since Resident Evil Zero will be a new experience for scores of players, it’s worth keeping the surprise vague.
Resident Evil: Cabin in the Woods
Even if you’ve played through the original Resident Evil dozens of times, you’re missing out if you don’t play this enhanced HD remake. Not only does it unleash all the classic scares with greater and spookier detail, but it also introduces new areas – including a creepy cabin in the woods outside of Spencer Mansion. This rickety shack has that certain familiar “terror in the woods” element missing from the original game, which mostly delivered claustrophobic horror. This offers a new type of scare, and it’s a delightfully dastardly addition. As for what’s inside… well, even if you’ve been traumatized by your encounters with the shambling undead before, nothing can prepare you for what’s in store here.
Resident Evil: The Zombie Diaries
Resident Evil gets credit for its innovative visual scares, but we couldn’t complete this list without including perhaps the series’ spookiest moment – one based solely around the written word. There’s a sequence in the original game that’s about as creepy as any visage of the flesh-chomping undead, and really captures the madness that slowly infests this unassuming manor in the woods. Unbeknownst to him, a researcher in Spencer Mansion is infected with the T-Virus and writes down the horrifying effects on his body and mind. More than anything else, this diary gives the player a true sense of the helplessness that afflicts any that come in contact with this man-made disaster… and the descent into madness that follows. Think of it as a zombified “Flowers for Algernon,” if you will…
Resident Evil Zero: Wesker Mode
Yes, Resident Evil Zero offers players the chance to experience some of their favorite thrills and chills in stunning HD – but it also delivers one spine-tingling option no one’s seen before: Wesker Mode. This replaces Rebecca Chambers’ normal Resident Evil Zero partner, Billy Coen, with series staple Albert Wesker – and you can bet that this change brings plenty of its own haunting moments. Wherever the dark-glasses-clad enigma goes, weirdness follows… and we’re willing to bet that it’s packed with horrors that not even series veterans will see coming. And that’s the best reason to get your adrenaline pumping for these classic games: Even its most fervent fans are in the dark on some of its biggest scares!