The Resident Evil series is over 20 years old at this point. After launching in 1996, it has gone on to spawn games, comics, films, novels and all sorts of other merchandise. It is everywhere. But, as successful as it has been, this staple has done something extraordinary in the last few years. It feels like a number of things have come together to make something already successful even more accomplished. We are clearly in the midst of a Resident Evil renaissance.
It feels like Resident Evil VII helped take the series to a new plateau. The franchise has always focused on zombies and otherworldly horrors in a thrilling way, maintaining a long storyline that tends to come back to Umbrella. But this new entry was more inviting and tackled gameplay in a whole new way. It went back to a one man, one scary-ass house approach. Instead of zombies, we had people who were mutated and corrupted. The thrills were still there, but ambiance and lore came together to offer more of a horrific experience that helped fuse Resident Evil with the kind of unsettling horror we used to see in Silent Hill. It was incredible.
Resident Evil VII also gave Capcom a chance to experiment with the series. This was the first installment to implement VR. Amazingly enough, it did it well. Being able to explore and play in the first-person was a huge boon for the PlayStation 4 version of the game. It is also the first cloud-based game for the Nintendo Switch in Japan. Since the system could not normally handle it, people pay a fee, download a program that allows them to stream it, and then get to enjoy the experience too. It is doing so well, Capcom has already committed to trying new things.
But only talking about Resident Evil VII makes it seem like the future is not bright for the series. The remake of Resident Evil 2 proves that it is. Well, remake is not the right word. This is a reimagining of the second game, complete with improved controls, cutting edge graphics, and a loving appreciation of what the original was back in 1998 and could be in 2019. The Game Critics Awards 2018 called it Best of Show at E3 2018. It will look at the game in a whole new way, figuratively and literally, since it will have the same over-the-shoulder camera as Resident Evil 4. It is huge.
We also have to consider the number of ports showing up. Let’s go with the PlayStation 4. Right now, you can get Resident Evil, Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil 6, and both Revelations games on the system. The same goes for the Xbox One. The Umbrella Corps spin-off is also present there. If you go to the Nintendo Switch, the newest system on the block, you can still find Resident Evil: Revelations 1 & 2, complete with new minigames exclusive to that console. Capcom has made it easier than ever to keep up with the series.
Even the other forms of Resident Evil media are doing well. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is the final installment in the live-action movie series based on it. It may not have received the best reviews, but it closed out the storyline and was the most profitable in that line of movies. There was even Resident Evil: Vendetta recently. This animated feature acted as a bridge between Resident Evil 6 and 7, following a number of major characters like Leon and offering insight into what’s going on in a stylish way. Even if the quality is not always the highest, the spin-offs have been doing well too.
Resident Evil is a series that has always stood the test of time. We know it is one that will be around for years to come. But lately, it seems like the ante has been upped. The quality of the games have been better than ever. Capcom has been making sure it is easy to keep up with past games. And, based on how gorgeous Resident Evil 2’s upcoming retelling looks, the future is rather bright!