If you love being scared, video games are one of the best for getting it done—because unlike movies and TV shows, video games are interactive.
Terrors await around every corner and your decisions play into your frights. You don't just watch people in danger. YOU are in danger.
And no gaming franchise has had as much of an impact on the horror genre than the legendary Resident Evil series. These zombie-filled shooters combine puzzle-solving with complex lore, resulting in one of the most popular gaming franchises around.
But not every game in the series is a hit. Here are our thoughts on how the Resident Evil games rank against each other, which ones took the series forward, and which one reigns as king of the franchise.
14. Resident Evil Zero
The idea behind Resident Evil Zero was a fun one: a prequel that sets up the events behind the very first game of the series.
Unfortunately, the story of Resident Evil Zero isn't as interesting as the tale that follows, and it's crucially missing the sense of scale that was established in later games.
What results is a dull, slow game that doesn't come close to delivering the action-centric horror of better entries.
13. Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Most of the titles in the Resident Evil franchise offer something different for fans to sink their teeth into. Unfortunately, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 gives players too much of the same old.
While the story is different from its predecessor Resident Evil: Revelations, this sequel doesn't change much when it comes to gameplay mechanics or narrative pacing. What results is a predictable, boring game that feels like it should've been a straight-to-DVD movie instead.
12. Resident Evil 6
Speaking of video games that wish they were movies, Resident Evil 6 takes the cinematic approach and cranks it up to the extreme.
The sense of being overwhelmed by the horrors and unending dread of the zombie apocalypse? That just wasn't there in this title, making it the weakest of the mainline Resident Evil games.
11. Resident Evil: Revelations
Resident Evil: Revelations introduced some fun changes to the gameplay mechanics of the series, turning it more into a third-person shooter game than previous entries.
The fact that it also filled in the story gaps for fan-favorite Jill Valentine between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 helped make this unusual Resident Evil game one of the most loved by long-time fans.
10. Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Released for the Sega Dreamcast in 2000, Resident Evil: Code Veronica suffered from having to transition to a new console while attempting to expand the enviroments into truly 3D worlds (as opposed to the fixed camera angles of previous games in the series).
The result is an uneven title that misses more than it hits, and feels unwieldy and over-ambitious most of the time. But if you can get past the technical hiccups, there's a decent game hidden in there.
9. Resident Evil 5
I'm conflicted about Resident Evil 5 because it really isn't a bad game overall—it just isn't a good horror game.
There's action, there's conflict, there's some tight shooting mechanics, which are all great. But it goes too heavy on all of that at the expense of what makes Resident Evil great. This would have been a well-received title if it didn't have the Resident Evil name on the box.
8. Resident Evil 3 Remake
Most of the time I don't like to list remakes as separate from their originals, but Resident Evil 3 Remake is so different from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis that I'm going to make an exception.
While the game was a graphical upgrade, it failed to provide the overwhelming sense of dread and fear from the original. Sequences felt forced and scripted rather than natural, and there was a heavy emphasis on action rather than fear.
7. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
While later games would steer further into the action genre, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was the best at blending the two.
The pursuer mechanic—where the titular Nemesis was constantly waiting for its chance to pounce—was polished and fun, adding to the overwhelming tension and dread players feel throughout.
6. Resident Evil 8: Village
For many, Resident Evil 8: Village is the quintessential Resident Evil experience, complete with frightening enemies mixed with a cast of characters that stuck with the player long after they finished playing.
The fact that it introduced the remarkably popular Lady Dimitrescu to the series also helped it to become an instant classic, as the antagonist of the game quickly became an internet icon.
5. Resident Evil
Here's the game that started it all: Resident Evil. It introduced many of the aspects that would make the series so memorable and enduring: the spooky setting, the interesting puzzles, the convoluted but engaging plot.
All of it was different from other horror games of its time, and it was great fun even if its graphics left a lot to be desired. The 2002 remake was even better, but it wouldn't have been so great without the fundmentals established by this very first game.
4. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard marked a shift in the series toward first-person gaming, with Ethan Winters taking on the role of the central character for the first time.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard had a tightly focused plot that took place in a single mansion, slowly unraveling the mystery of the terrifying residents therein. The enclosed setting added to the tension, ensuring that there was always a new danger just a few feet away.
While it's a bit shorter than many Resident Evil games, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is better for it. It never outstayed its welcome and it always left the player wanting more.
3. Resident Evil (Remake)
While the gameplay of the first Resident Evil game has aged quite well—far better than most games of its era—the graphics were crude and always in dire need of a serious upgrade.
The remade Resident Evil, which came out in 2002, brought the same story to current-gen consoles of the time. More than just a remake, this felt like the final draft of the first game, with an improved battle system and pacing.
2. Resident Evil 2 + Remake
Despite all the greatness of the first Resident Evil game, the sequel was better in nearly every single way. Not only were the two main characters more interesting, but we got the opportunity to explore Raccoon City for the first time, which further opened up the world.
The story of Resident Evil 2 was tense and fraught with peril, especially with this game's pursuer, Mr. X, looming over every interaction and scene.
The remake of Resident Evil 2, which came out in 2019, is still one of the best remakes of any video game ever made, improving on the original without losing any of what made it so fun in the first place.
1. Resident Evil 4
The Nintendo GameCube had one of the best video game libraries of all time, and Resident Evil 4 has a real claim to being the best of the best.
Resident Evil 4 was originally released as a Nintendo GameCube exclusive, but it was so good and so successful that Capcom had no choice but to port it to other consoles and systems—like the Nintendo Wii.
The Wii Edition of Resident Evil 4 incorporated the console's unique control scheme with its action-horror story, making it stand out as one of the greatest video games of the era.
To this day, Resident Evil 4 is the best Resident Evil game and one of the greatest horror experiences of all time.