Content Warning: This article contains discussions and images of scenes that include horror and violence.
When discussing horror gaming, Resident Evil is without a doubt near the very top of the list. Like Silent Hill, it launched on the original PlayStation in the mid-90s and has gone on to become royalty in the industry, introducing generations of fans to its gruesome and engaging universe. Fans of the original games know it as a pure exercise in challenging survival horror, but the series has gone through some major changes as its expanded its world from zombies to other horrifying creatures and villains.
It refocused down the line into a more linear, action-oriented series, but has masterfully kept its terrifying moments and memorable sequences close to its heart.
10 The First Zombie – Resident Evil (2002)
A defining moment in the original game that terrified games worldwide, the second players turn a corner mere minutes into the game while exploring a creepy mansion is when they are met with their first zombie. This moment was made even more terrifying in the 2002 Gamecube remake of the game, with the graphical update making the scene even more horrific.
A zombie is hunched over a body that it is consuming and slowly turns its head to face the player. Pure panic sets in as the creature rises and stumbles toward the player, the combat controls unfamiliar as players struggle to shoot it. It falls to the ground … but is it really dead?
9 Dog Attack – Resident Evil (1996)
Before players even step foot in the mansion, they are attacked by a pack of monstrous dogs as they investigate a crash site. The sequence is played out in a cutscene, and inside the mansion feels safe from the creatures – aside from the aforementioned zombies.
After exploring for a while, solving puzzles, and unlocking passageways, players enter a wing of the mansion that is well lit and not overly ominous. Several windows line the wall, the moonlit night glowing through. A few steps past the first window is when the glass suddenly shatters and the undead canines burst into the hallway, a jump scare that is one of the most effective in gaming history.
8 Marguerite Fight – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Anytime a human scurries on all fours like an insect in any form of media, it becomes scarier. With Marguerite Baker, the mother of the Baker clan, she seems to have a thing for insects, as she is able to send legions of them after player character Ethan Winters in RE 7.
When players encounter her in a decrepit old greenhouse, she has gone from walking upright to scrambling up walls and ceilings like a humanoid spider, her limbs long and stretched. Her voice is deep and demonic, taunting players as they are on high alert for attacks from multiple angles.
7 Nemesis – Resident Evil 3 (2020)
The popular “Tyrant” villains in the Resident Evil games are hulking abominations that stalk the various playable characters that encounter them throughout the series. They are motivated killing machines and seem unaffected by gunfire or their surroundings.
One of the best versions of this is the Nemesis T-Type, introduced in the original RE 3 but brought to life with a more terrifying modern appeal in the 2020 remake. His grotesque face with his exposed teeth, and stitched-together skin makes his appearance each time a horrifying moment, and the way he gives chase, using weapons when needed, and growls “Staaaarrrssss …” is enough to make players quit the game in terror.
6 Jack Baker Chase – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
The Baker family is introduced in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-like dinner scene in RE 7, where Ethan is held hostage as he is fed questionable pieces of food. What follows is an escape sequence where he frees himself and desperately searches for an exit. This is foiled by the terrifying father of the family, Jack, who stalks the player from room to room and viciously kills a cop who comes to investigate.
Exploring any room of the massive house, in any wing, feels unsafe, as Jack stomps around freely and taunts Ethan, unaffected by bullets and wielding various murderous tools. The moment when he walks right through a wall and into the player’s path is a hall-of-fame horror gaming moment.
5 Chainsaw Attack – Resident Evil 4
RE 4 was a major turning point in the series, as it adopted a more third-person action-adventure style, immediately thrusting players into Leon Kennedy’s shoes in a rural European countryside setting. The big opening setpiece of the game sees Leon enter a small village and suddenly have to fight for his life, as possessed villagers chase him with pitchforks, axes, and more. The entire segment is tense and wrought with suspense, as nowhere feels safe.
Once entering a specific house, a cutscene triggers, and a chainsaw is seen and heard as a being wearing a ghoulish sack over its head starts sawing through the wooden door. The feeling of being surrounded with ammo sparse and a maniac with a chainsaw coming at you is what makes this moment one of the scariest in all of gaming.
4 Ghostly Found Footage – Resident Evil 7 Demo: Beginning Hour
Although unfortunately not featured in the main game, the demo for RE 7 titled “Beginning Hour” contained the super-creepy sequence where the player plays through a found footage videotape. A documentary crew is filming in an abandoned house on the Baker family property, with the player in control of the cameraman in the crew.
Though the sequence is featured in the full game, this demo is unique because it features countless very frightening ghost sightings, each very well hidden, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments. They are flashed in various locations for split seconds, making players question what they are seeing. It’s something that sadly could have made the full game of RE 7 even more terrifying than it already is.
3 Regenerators – Resident Evil 4
Once Leon reaches the climatic island section of RE 4, the game veers into full-on explosive action territory, with armed infected guards, chaingun brutes, and much less of the small-scare terror that was in the early parts of the game. Thankfully, in a research lab section, players get to experience one of the fright-inducing enemies in the game.
The tall, scaly alien-looking being is first seen lying on a table, and players find a memo explaining that they are experimental beings that can regenerate tissue and limbs. Suddenly, a crash is heard, and the things stumble to life, breathing hoarsely and sniffing for prey. There’s a technique to taking them down, but without knowing it, they are literally unstoppable killing machines.
2 Mr. X Chase – Resident Evil 2 (2019)
Nemesis from RE 3 remains the big-name Tyrant enemy in the game series, with his iconic face plastered on marketing and merchandise for the title. But when the amazing remake for RE 2 was released in 2019, the Tyrant nicknamed Mr. X gave Nemesis a run for his money. What made Jack Baker so memorable was his slow but terrifying pursuit of players in RE 7, but in RE 2, when Mr. X makes his entrance by lifting a crashed helicopter out of his way to get to the player, the game becomes a truly relentless game of hide and seek.
Mr. X chases and does not stop. His booming footsteps are heard all over the police station that players are trapped in, and no room is safe – besides the save rooms – as players struggle to unlock a door or solve a puzzle with those footsteps bearing down on them.
1 Giant Baby Monster – Resident Evil Village (2021)
Village, the latest installment in the series, changes up zombies for werewolves and brings the series back to an isolated village in a European country. There is a lot to love with this title, but one area stands out not just in the game, but the series as a whole. In the section where players investigate the Beneviento House, they are greeted with an eerily empty house with no enemies, lots of creepy dolls, and a basement full of puzzles to solve. A film projector shows creepy footage of an underground well, and when exploring it in the pitch black, the sound of a distressed baby can be heard.
What follows is one of the most disturbingly scary moments in gaming as a giant, deformed baby with a massive mouth chases players through the basement, its horrific voice crying out for “Da-da.” Afterward, you face a bunch of possessed dolls, but this is nothing compared to the horrifying baby monstrosity that comes before them.
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