The Resident Evil franchise has forged a reputation for inducing fear in the bravest of gamers. While the series has flirted with a more action-orientated focus, it's the survival-horror aspects that often stay in the memory. Features Editor Thomas Whitehead and writers/Resident Evil experts Zach Kaplan and Marcel van Duyn have looked back into the past and identified ten scary moments that caused heart-rates to accelerate and sweat to form on brows. Check out our horrifying list below:
Rabid dogs in a hallway, of course — Marcel van Duyn
Anybody who's played even the smallest portion of the original Resident Evil (Only available on Nintendo DS in its non-remake form, as far as Nintendo systems go) should be familiar with what is perhaps the most iconic scare in the entire series. You're all alone after investigating the dining room, and head off into the mansion's east wing. You step into a long, quiet corridor lined with windows and not a living being in sight. But, as you step past the first window, suddenly, a Cerberus, one of the franchise's famous dog zombies, bursts through and starts to give chase. Further down the hall, as you're running from it, another one jumps through another window! For most people, this is the first Resident Evil moment that made them jump, and possibly also the moment that immediately made them fall in love with the series.
Several years later, Capcom managed to scare people with the same room all over again in the GameCube remake of the first game. The game had the same setting and rooms, but with some unexpected twists. In the familiar hallway, expecting dogs, you would instinctively start running the moment you entered, but this time, there were no dogs to be found. Instead, the first window you ran past cracked a little to scare you, and then nothing happened, leaving the room completely empty. But of course they couldn't just let it go that easily, if at any point in your journey you decided to go back through the hallway in the opposite direction, the dogs would pop out and scare you all over again!
This room is safe, nothing in there but some dead zombies... — Zach Kaplan
Zombies are the living dead, as we all know. So, does it make sense that you can kill them just like regular, warm-blooded human beings? Well, not really. That was probably Capcom's thinking when creating the GameCube REmake of the first Resident Evil. Bullets and knives weren't enough – you had to douse the bodies in gasoline and set them on fire. Much more realistic, don't you think? Of course, most of us found out about this the hard way.
Minus the save rooms, you never know when you're really safe in a Resident Evil game. Mirrors lining the hallways and lighting tricks add a sense of tension that this particular iteration really brought to life. But this particular gameplay feature meant that you weren't even safe in rooms you'd already cleared. There's nothing like the shock of entering a room completely unprepared for combat, only to find that you are not alone.
We all remember our first Crimson Head attack. They look meaner, they're more powerful and harder to take down, and worst of all, they run. They run directly at you. And it is terrifying. Better have your shotgun ready.
There's something outside the window — Zach Kaplan
Sound plays a big part in creating the scary atmosphere of a Resident Evil game, and nothing drives that home quite like your first encounter with the Licker in Resident Evil 2. As you head toward a door, you see it quickly scuttle by the window outside.
After facing mostly generic zombie fare, this creature, blood-red and deadly quick, is a shock to the system. And as you freeze in place, wanting to do nothing less than open that door in front of you, you realise that all the music is drained from the game. As you proceed, you've got only the sound of your footsteps to keep you company as well as that of a horrible mysterious dripping. Could it be? Yes... it's blood. Coming down from the ceiling. You look up, and see one of the most memorable images in a Resident Evil game. Tongue out, saliva dripping, horribly moaning, the Licker is there, dropping down from above and into your nightmares.
I hope that's not a two-way mirror... — Thomas Whitehead
Classic B-movie scares were a major part of the early titles in the series, and a scene involving a two-way mirror and a Licker was a classic example in Resident Evil 2. When playing a Resident Evil title many gamers would see a two-way mirror and think, you know what, I'm going to get jumped by a monster at any moment.
It's all in the timing, though. When you go into the room and carefully look around, nothing happens. It's when you're on your way out of the room and about to celebrate escape that a Licker smashes through the glass. One of the most feared enemies in the game, arriving with impeccable timing, caused many dropped controllers and shouted profanities back in the day.
Even walls can't stop him — Marcel van Duyn
Resident Evil 2 featured a "Game B" option, allowing you to play through the second character's side of the story after clearing the first. It allowed you to solve a handful of new puzzles and encounter some enemies, most notably "Mr. X," one of several mass-produced T-103 type Tyrants sent specifically to retrieve a sample of the G-Virus. He appeared many times to pursue you, but the particular moment we found the most memorable happens shortly after visiting the Raccoon Police Department's basement for the first time.
Making your way back to the station's eastern wing to unlock a door with a new key, you solve a puzzle that involves lighting up faucets to make a golden cog drop from a painting. Take two steps toward the cog though, and Mr. X suddenly crashes through the wall you just solved the puzzle on, immediately beginning his signature slow, intimidating walk towards you. You grab the cog and immediately scramble to get out of the room. In the hallway, you think it's safe, but making your way around the room you were just in - surprise! - Mr. X crashes back out through another wall and continues the chase. He popped up throughout the game many times, but actually breaking down walls to get to you was something completely unexpected at the time.