What are the best Resident Evil Games?
Have we really been blasting apart zombies and surviving a myriad of over-sized animals and bioweapons for over two decades? You might not believe it, but it’s true: Resident Evil was first released twenty-three years ago and with the recent release of Resident Evil 2 Remake, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
If that makes you feel old, then you’re in good company as more than a few of us here at Goomba Stomp are old enough to have actually played the original all the way back in 1996 and we’re here to remind everyone what made these games great (or not so great) to begin with, where they succeeded and where they failed. Welcome back to Racoon City folks; here is our list of the best Resident Evil games to date.
12 – Resident Evil 6
Okay, so here’s the thing: no one is ever going to be heard calling Resident Evil 6 a masterpiece. In fact, most people would struggle to even call it a good game, and there’s a lot of solid reasoning behind that. The only way a game like this could be labeled a success would be if the player happened to fall into a niche demographic that could manage to enjoy all four of the very different campaigns that make up the plot of RE6. For my part, I liked the Jake/Sherry section and the Ada section but was bored stiff with the Leon and Chris stuff. Conversely, I’ve roundly heard from a host of folks who would say that the Leon section is the only part worth playing, so, really, it’s all down to personal preference. The point remains, though, that even half of a good game does not make for a win in Capcom’s court, and this title more than any other signifies just how lost the RE franchise was at one point in time. (Mike Worby)
11 – Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5 is a really hard game to love and an even harder one to recommend. There are great moments, but they’re few, and the space between them is filled with terrible things. For every step forward Resident Evil 5 makes, it seems to take a leap backward and it ends up feeling like a checklist of ideas copy-pasted from RE4 without ever feeling like something new and fresh. For every genuinely interesting moment or exciting combat encounter, there’s two or three boring or annoying fights and some of the banalest bosses in the entire series.
The entire experience is further soured by the god-awful partner AI in the single-player campaign, the somehow worse than RE4 AI in all the enemies, and cumbersome controls that no longer feed into the horror but instead hold back from the action. It’s a game completely confused about what it wants to be, trying so hard to be an action shooter while also trying to be survival horror, and failing miserably to do either one very well. It’s not the worst in the Resident Evil series, not by a long shot, but it’s so forgettable against the better games that it just gets tossed by the wayside, sort of where it belongs. (Andrew Vandersteen)
10 – Resident Evil Revelations
For those who wanted Resident Evil to go back to its scary roots after RE5, this game is for you. Well, most of it anyway. What parts of the game take place on the Queen Zenobia, a doomed cruise liner that makes for a great stand-in for a creepy mansion, are as dark, mysterious, and downright creepy as fans could hope after an entry spent in the sunlight. For Revelations, Capcom returned to a world of opulence contrasted with monstrous decay, and once again it works. Wandering the gently rocking ship’s labyrinthine hallways, creaking doors opening to musty staterooms, communications decks, and even a casino, feels like coming home again, or at least haunted home. Sound once again plays a large part, letting imagination do some of the work. Slithering enemies wiggle through metal vents, a chilling call of “mayday” echoes out from the silence, and the deformed mutation of a former colleague whispers from the shadows, possibly lurking around any corner. Tension is palpable and the atmosphere is thick; who could ask for anything else? Unfortunately, Capcom decided to be generous without anyone asking and also included side missions that break up the anxiety with some good old fashioned trigger-pulling. Cutaway missions involving Chris and his sweet-assed partner or two of the biggest idiots ever seen in the franchise only serve to distract from the killer vibe the main game has going on, and are a slight misstep, though they by no means ruin the overall experience.
Is there cheesy dialogue? Of course; what RE game would be complete without some? Cheap jump scares? You betcha. But Resident Evil Revelations also knows how to earn its scares, and it does so well enough to remind players just how fun this series can be when it sticks to what it does best. (Patrick Murphy)
9 – Resident Evil 0
Resident Evil 0 finds itself at a bit of a strange place in the RE canon in that it follows up one of the best games in the series (the REmake) and is mainly seen as a solid entry but also finds itself at the stalling point right before RE4, when the old formula had been taxed pretty much to the limit. With that in mind, RE0 is still executed very well: the atmosphere is fantastic, the graphics are phenomenal, both of the protagonists are likable, and the plot hits all the b-movie camp bases you’d expect from a Resident Evil game.
RE0 also fills in a lot of the gaps in the mythology, and as its title might suggest it explains a lot of where this whole thing got started. You won’t find many people telling you that this is an essential title, but if you’re a fan of the series, it’s certainly worth going back to, especially with the HD port now available. I mean where else can you find a guy made of leeches chasing around a couple of 20-something heartthrobs? (Mike Worby)
8 – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
When the name of the antagonist makes the cover and the title, you better believe he will be a large part of the game. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis offers little reservations to having the newest addition of the Tyrant strain from Umbrella Corp. run wild to hunt and kill every S.T.A.R.S. member.
RE3 makes little changes to the series except for offering the ability to turn a full 180, a few choice-based actions, and the inclusion of the aforementioned villain Nemesis. The series returns the spotlight to RE heroine Jill Valentine as she makes her final stand and leaves Raccoon City for good, and also introduces Carlos Oliveira, an Umbrella Corps. mercenary who learns the error of his ways and aids Jill along the way.
The story and characters fall short from its predecessors but the game certainly makes up for it in gameplay, intensity and jump scares, courtesy of Nemesis. There are very rarely places or times when you feel safe, as he does seem to appear whenever he so pleases – though, after a second run of the game, you will know precisely when to expect him, as these points of the game do repeat themselves.
RE3 may not be the high point of the series, with characters who were not as memorable as RE2 and an environment that, though large, was not as intimate or terrifying as those of the Arklay Mountains. However, it certainly does excel at one thing, and that’s making one of the most unique and unrelenting monsters of the series in the form of the Nemesis. (Aaron Santos)
7 – Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Code Veronica is Resident Evil in a transitional period. The game was a technical leap forward in that it was the first in the series to feature a movable camera and fully rendered 3D backgrounds, but the game played almost identically to Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, warts and all. It wouldn’t be until RE4 that the series would see a true overhaul in the gameplay department and so Code Veronica sits in a weird middle ground between the old and the new. It also holds the dubious honor of being the moment in the chronology when the story all became, well, a bit much.
Previous Resident Evil games had told stories that all centred around a singular viral outbreak, with that story wrapping up when Raccoon City was decimated by atom bombs at the end of Nemesis. They weren’t going to win any prizes, but they were inoffensively camp fun. Code Veronica is where the story breaks out into the wider world and the deep-rooted conspiracy of the Umbrella Corporation, an inexplicably evil pharmaceutical company, starts to become more and more implausible and the twists all the more head-scratching. The three primary antagonists of the game are the returning Albert Wesker (a surprise since we last saw him getting stabbed to death in the first game), and the twins Alfred and Alexia Ashford. Later in the game, it turns out that Alexia Ashford has been in cryosleep during the entire game, and every time we’ve seen her it’s actually been Alfred in makeup and a dress doing his best Psycho impression for the benefit of nobody. Enough said, really. (John Cal McCormick)
6 – Resident Evil
Resident Evil is credited with bringing the survival horror genre to the masses and ushering in a golden age of truly terrifying video games. Originally conceived as a remake of Capcom’s earlier horror-themed game Sweet Home, Shinji Mikami, took gameplay design cues from Alone in the Dark and established a formula that has proven successful time and time again.
The eponymous first game in the series may seem dated but the simple premise and duplicitous puzzle box mansion hold up incredibly well, twenty years later. For those who love the series’ puzzle elements, the original is unparalleled. The opening sequence sets up a campy tone with unintentionally hilarious voice acting, but once your knee deep in the mansion, things become unbearably tense. Resident Evil requires patience, and what makes the game so good is the slow burn. It’s punishing at times, so proceed with caution. (Ricky da Conceicao)
PAX South 2020 Hands-On: ‘Ghostrunner,’ ‘Everspace 2,’ and ‘Wrath: Aeon of Ruin’
We’ve already covered a wide variety of the games on display at PAX South this year, from retro revivals to unorthodox romances to everything in between – and we’re not done yet! In this next roundup article, we cover three more ambitious, action-packed games: Ghostrunner, Everspace 2, and Wrath: Aeon of Ruin.
Ghostrunner was one of the most in-demand games at PAX, and after playing it, it’s easy to see why. This first-person action slasher, developed by One More Level and produced by 3D Realms, lets players dash through the air, run across walls, and slash through enemies at blistering speed all while exploring a dystopian cyberpunk world. It’s gorgeous, lightning fast, and feels amazing to play.
Ghostrunner begins in a broken future, where the remnants of humanity have hidden away in a single condensed tower. Naturally enough, you’re put in the role of the one rebel who dares to rise up against the forces oppressing humanity. As you begin your uprising, you’ll also encounter a grand mystery – why is humanity the way it is now? Just what happened to the rest of the world? And what’s that voice you hear in your head?
My demo didn’t offer much illumination to these mysteries, but the 3D Realms team assured me that the story plays a significant role in the main campaign. What my demo did offer, however, was a look into the fast-paced, brutal gameplay that defines the game. Combat is so dynamic in Ghostrunner. Your arsenal of moves is massive and varied – of course you can run, jump, and slash with your katana, but you can also run along walls, dash over chasms, slow down time to dodge bullets, and more.
When all the moving pieces flow together, Ghostrunner achieves a visceral, almost hypnotic flow of battle. There are a few obstacles to this feeling. The controls took a bit of getting used to on my end, but that would be because, console peasant that I am, I’m not used to playing 3D games on a keyboard instead of a controller. Also, this may be an action game, but at many times it feels more like a puzzle game. With bloodthirsty enemies scattered around each environment, you’ll often need to take a step back and methodically evaluate which abilities to use in each situation. This can take some trial and error – it might have taken me more than a few tries to clear out the final wave of enemies. But when the solution works out, it’s a beautifully exhilarating feeling, and that’s what sets Ghostrunner apart.
Wrath: Aeon of Ruin
PAX featured plenty of retro-styled games, but not many quite like Wrath: Aeon of Ruin. This retro-style FPS is a throwback to the simpler, faster days of shooters, built entirely in the same engine as the original Quake. It was even based off the work of Quake community modders. If you’ve played any classic FPS like the original DOOM or Wolfenstein, then you should have a good idea of how Wrath plays: it’s brutal, lightning fast, and action packed.
My demo got straight to the point. After teleporting me to a distant hellscape, I was faced with a horde of demons, ranging from simple skeletons to more aggressive ogre-like enemies and flying laser monsters. Thankfully, I was also given an assortment of weapons to take these creatures down with, including a simple handgun, a powerful blade arm, and my personal favorite, a shotgun. Each one of these felt good to control, and like any good old-fashioned shooter, they gave me a great feeling of power.
Like any good, brutal FPS in the vein of Quake, Wrath features an insane amount of mobility. Movement is extremely fast and fluid, allowing you to zip across and above stages with reckless abandon. This extra speed will be necessary, especially considering that enemies can slaughter on with reckless, overwhelming abandon.
Of course, being built in the original Quake engine, Wrath is a delightfully retro treat to behold. It features all the signature hard polygonal edges of PC shooters from that bygone era, but with the added smoothness and fluidity of modern hardware. The game feels great to play and is a unique treat to behold. Wrath is currently available on Steam Early Access, and there’s plenty of new content that can be expected throughout the year, including new levels, enemies, and even a full online multiplayer mode. Stuffed with violent retro action, Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is absolutely worth watching out for.
Space is the final frontier, offering limitless exploration This’s the exact feeling that Everspace 2 captures. This sandbox open world space shooter dumps you in outer space and leaves you to figure out the rest, allowing you to fight, scavenge, and explore as you will, all with an incredible amount of freedom.
It’s a remarkably beautiful game too, boasting of extremely detailed 3D graphics that wouldn’t look out of place in a full 3D AAA experience. It’s extremely ambitious, offering a wealth of customization options through parts that can be scavenged from fallen space craft or space debris. There’s alien life to discover and a wealth of locations to explore, with the full game apparently featuring more than 80 unique environments.
These environments will always be interesting to explore thanks to a mix between handcrafted worlds and randomization. The original Everspace was a pure roguelike, and as developer Rockfish Games told me, this constantly changing design has often been fundamental to previous great space shooters. Although Rockfish opted for an intentionally designed open world for the sequel, they want to maintain some of those same roguelike elements. That’s why whenever you venture through the many galaxies of Everspace 2, the galaxies and planets will be the same, but the items you find or enemies you encounter within them may change each time.
It took me some time to get used to Everspace. It immediately offers a great amount of freedom, with the demo simply dumping me in space and only requiring that I take down some enemy units and pick up some loot. Yet once I got the hang of the controls and the environment, it became extremely fluid and natural to zip through space, upgrade different components, and experience all the free-flowing action that it has to offer. Space is the ultimate freedom, and Everspace 2 is set to represent that.
PAX South 2020 Hands-On: ‘Windjammers 2,’ ‘KUNAI,’ and ‘Young Souls’
PAX South 2020 attracted tons of exciting publishers to San Antonio, and even with such a crowded lineup, the DotEmu and Arcade Crew booth easily stood out as some of the show’s very best exhibitors. Streets of Rage 4 might have been their standout demo, but the French boutique publisher and developers brought a fantastic selection of games to the show, including their signature retro revivals and some promising original indie games of their own.
Sequel to the much-beloved arcade classic, Windjammers 2 takes all the hectic frisbee-throwing action of the original and updates it for the modern generation. For those unfamiliar with the art of windjamming, it’s effectively pong, but instead of balls, you toss discs back and forth across the court. It pits two players against each other on opposite sides of the court, tasking you with mercilessly hurling your disc back and forth until it gets into your opponent’s goal.
You can just throw the disc directly at your opponent, but Windjammers 2 gives you many more options besides that. To really excel at the game, you’ll have to make use of the most extravagant moves you can, dashing across the court, leaping into the air, tossing the disc above you before slamming it down into your opponent, to list only a few of the uber-athletic abilities at your disposal. The game can move extremely quickly when both players take advantage of these capabilities, yet things never feel overwhelming. I always felt in control of the action, even when my quickest reflexes were put to the test. It’s fast-paced disc throwing insanity, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Just like the rest of DotEmu’s catalogue, Windjammers 2 combines classic gameplay with gorgeous modern aesthetics. It has the same hand-drawn style that makes other DotEmu titles stand out, like Wonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap. The original Windjammers was a time capsule of garish 90s style, and that design is retained for the new release, with characters looking even more colorful and absurd than ever thanks to the revitalized art and animations. Hectic to play and beautiful to behold, Windjammers 2 is already set to be a multiplayer hit.
Streets of Rage 4 was certainly the premier beat ‘em up on display at DotEmu’s booth, but it wasn’t the only one. Alongside this retro revival was an all-new take on the genre: Young Souls, an extremely stylish action game that blends fast-paced fighting with deep RPG customization and a charming, emotional narrative.
Beat ‘em ups might not be known for deep storylines, but Young Souls aspires to something more. Along with its satisfying combat mechanics and plentiful flexibility for character builds, it also boasts of having “a profound story with unforgettable characters.” While my demo didn’t give me much of a look at this deep narrative, it’s reasonable to assume that the story will at least be quality, since it’s penned by none other than the author of the Walking Dead games, Matthew Ritter.
However, I did get a substantial feel for combat. Young Souls features more than 70 monster-filled dungeons, and I got to venture into two of them in my demo. The action feels weighty and solid when going up against enemies, yet precise at the same time. Like any classic beat ‘em up, there’s a mixture of light and heavy attacks, along with blocks and powerful special moves, along with items and spells to exploit during combat as well. In between battles, you’re able to deck your character out in equipment and items, allowing for an element of roleplaying depth that isn’t typically associated with action games like this. In my short time with the game, it was fun to experiment with different character builds, which could determine the speed and abilities of my fighter, promising combat for the final game.
I played the demo both solo and co-op; in single-player, you’re able to switch between the two twins at will, while two players can each take control of a sibling. In both playstyles, the gameplay was just as visceral and satisfying as one would expect from a classic-style beat ‘em up like this, but the addition of a deep story and RPG mechanics put a unique spin on this entry. That’s not to mention that, like every other game at the DotEmu and Arcade Crew booth, it’s visually beautiful, featuring stylish 2D characters in 3D environments that are all rendered in gentle, washed-out colors. Young Souls might not have a release date or even any confirmed platforms as of now, but it’s absolutely worth keeping an eye on in the meantime.
KUNAI takes the typical metroidvania formula and boosts it to hyperspeed. It has all the hidden secrets and massively interconnected world exploration that you’d expect from the genre, and it gives you the ability to speed through that faster and more dynamically than ever. Its main gimmick is right in the name – by giving you two kunai hookshots, you’re able to traverse up and down your environments with speed and freedom, making for a uniquely vertical method to explore.
KUNAI starts out with the end of the world. In a dystopian future where technology has taken over, you control Tabby, a sentient and heroic tablet that’s dead set on liberating the planet. This serious plot is filled with plenty of personality, however, from the silly faces that Tabby makes in action to the charming dialogue and quirky character designs. This personality is rendered in appealing detail thanks to the game’s simple yet effective pixel art.
It’s in the gameplay where KUNAI truly shines. With the eponymous kunai, you’re able to latch onto vertical surfaces. Combine this with the additional abilities to dash, bounce off enemies, or wall jump, and it provides for a uniquely dynamic method of exploring the world. Using the kunai feels easy and intuitive, fast enough to gain speed but never too floaty. It’s a balanced approach to speed and movement that never gets out of control, resulting in what it is perhaps the best-feeling movement of any metroidvania I’ve played recently. My demo was brief, and ended very soon after first getting the kunai, but the gameplay felt so smooth and natural that I can’t wait to experience more of it. Thankfully, it’s not long to wait, since KUNAI hits Switch and PC on February 6.
PAX South Hands-On: ‘Streets of Rage 4’ Balances Legacy and Innovation
Streets of Rage 4 embodies the original series’ elegant, action-packed design and revives it for a new generation.
From the moment I began my demo with Streets of Rage 4 at PAX South, it felt like coming home. It might have been more than two decades since the first three games in the Streets of Rage series perfected the beat ‘em up formula on the Sega Genesis, but courtesy of developers Lizardcube, DotEmu, and Guard Crush, this legendary series is back and in good hands. This brand new entry aims to recapture all the style and balance of the originals, while introducing innovations of its own. If my demo is any indication, the game is set to achieve that.
Streets of Rage 4 uses the same elegant level design that set the original trilogy apart back on the Genesis. The gameplay is simple: keep walking to the right, taking out every enemy in front of you with all the jabs, kicks, jumps, and special moves at your disposal. If anything, the controls feel better than ever before, with an added level of precision and fluidity that simply wasn’t possible on older hardware.
That’s not to mention the new move sets. Beat ’em ups might not be the most complex genre around, but Streets of Rage 4 adds the perfect level of depth to the combat. It has the same simple jabs and kicks found in the original games, but spiced up with the potential for new combos and even a handful of extravagant new special moves. With new and old fighting mechanics, this new entry features plenty of room to experiment with combat but never loses the simple, arcade-like charm of the originals.
Streets of Rage 4 revives the series’ rage-filled and action-packed style for the twenty-first century
The demo included series staple characters like Axel and Blaze, yet I opted to play as an all-new character: Cherry Hunter, a guitar-wielding fighter whose move set felt very distinct from classic characters. Her movement is speedy, certainly faster than Axel but slower than Blaze, and her guitar provided for some unique melee moves. Like the new mechanics, her addition to the character roster helps shake up the Streets of Rage formula just enough, while maintaining the core beat ’em up simplicity that made the series special in the first place.
Streets of Rage 4 might innovate in a few areas, but one thing that’s clearly remained true to form is the difficulty. It boasts of the same old school difficulty that characterized the original games. The classic and brand new enemies are just as ruthless as ever, mercilessly crowding in around you and can easily overwhelm you if you’re not careful. However, just like the originals, the fighting feels so satisfying that it’s easy to keep coming back for more action.
Amid all these changes and additions, perhaps the most obvious (and controversial) change is the visual style. While the original series used detailed pixel art, Streets of Rage 4 instead boasts of an extremely detailed handcrafted art style, in which every frame of character animation is painstakingly drawn by hand and environments are colorful and painterly. Thousands of frames of animation go into each character, and the effort certainly shows, making every punch, kick, and other acts of violence a breathtaking sight to behold.
Streets of Rage 4 reimagines this classic series for a new generation, reintroducing the best of the beat ’em up genre for players of all backgrounds and experiences.
Some fans have complained that the game loses the series’ spirit without pixel art, but DotEmu marketing director Arnaud De Sousa insisted to me that this simply isn’t the case. Pixel art wasn’t an artistic choice back then – it was a matter of necessity. If the developers could have designed the game to look exactly as they wanted, regardless of technical limitations, then it likely would have looked just like the luscious hand-drawn visuals of the current Streets of Rage 4.
That’s not to mention that, as De Sousa emphasized, the Streets of Rage games are defined by looking different from one another. The third game looks different from the second, which looked different from the first – and now this new entry has twenty years of change to catch up on. Thus, it only makes sense for this new entry to adopt a radically new graphical style after all this time.
Streets of Rage 4 reimagines this classic series for a new generation, reintroducing the best of the beat ’em up genre for players of all backgrounds and experiences. The difference between De Sousa and myself is perfect evidence of that. He grew up playing the games in the 90s, whereas I wasn’t even born when the original trilogy became such a phenomenon and only played them years later in subsequent re-releases. Yet here we were, standing in the middle of a crowded convention and gushing about decades-old games. We might have had extremely different experiences with the series, but that didn’t stop us from appreciating the joys of stylish beat ’em up action.
“A good game is a good game,” De Sousa told me, “no matter how old.” That’s the attitude that Streets of Rage 4 exemplifies. It revives the series’ rage-filled and action-packed design for the twenty-first century. And with a release on all modern platforms, more players than ever will be able to rediscover the simple pleasure of wielding your bare knuckles against thugs of all types. Between the new art style and the solid gameplay, Streets of Rage 4 is looking like an incredibly welcome return for this iconic franchise.
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