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Resident Evil (1996) | History of Horror

Pierce Turner

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Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at unfspinnaker.com every day for a new installment!

In the ‘90s, video games started getting more advanced and more capable of immersing players in their worlds, something movies can’t replicate. Games like “Final Fantasy” and “The Legend of Zelda” sucked players into fantasy stories, while titles like “Metal Gear Solid” had players star in an action movie. But what about the horror genre? Wouldn’t it be extremely effective to immerse players in a completely scary experience where the nightmare is happening to them? Well, that’s where “Resident Evil” comes in.

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Known as “Biohazard” in Japan, “Resident Evil” is credited as the first “survival horror” game. These kinds of games force players to work with an extremely limited amount of supplies to survive some kind of horrific adventure. In “Resident Evil”, that adventure is a giant mansion filled with zombies, monsters, and puzzles to boggle the mind.

You play as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, both members of an elite police task force called S.T.A.R.S. Their mission is to investigate a series of macabre murders near Raccoon City. The investigation leads to the mansion and their worst nightmares come to life. Equipped with a simple weapon, you must unlock the hidden paths in the mansion and discover the secrets that lie within.

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Aside from starting an entire genre, “Resident Evil” revolutionized gameplay too. The game has static camera angles that can sometimes make whatever’s lurking around the next corner a mystery. You control the characters using “tank controls” where you must turn to face the direction you want to go before moving. It makes frantic encounters in the claustrophobic hallways even more terrifying.

Managing supplies is the key to survival. Ammo and health items are rare and you can only carry a handful of items around at once. This makes every encounter a question of fight or flight. Today, every horror games makes you ask yourself this question, but back then, it was a disturbing new idea.

By today’s standards “Resident Evil” may not look frightening at all, but don’t worry, there’s a remake. In 2002, the game was completely rebuilt from the ground up with a beautiful new engine and stunning graphics that still look amazing today. This version of the horror classic is, in my opinion, the best horror game ever made. The mansion is now adorned with exhaustive detail. The hallways are now filled with the moans of distant, hungry creatures. This game drips, no, it gushes atmosphere. It is the best possible horror experience you can have in games and maybe even in film.

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There is no horror videogame more important than “Resident Evil”, and scary games are tremendously important to horror in general. They take immersion to a new level and are the scariest form of entertainment. You can download the remake on PS4 and Xbox One for only $20! Buy it and enter the world of survival horror.


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Resident Evil (1996) | History of Horror