Every Resident Evil game has its scary moments, and I’m not talking about the horror of realising that one or two of the spin-offs are garbage (Survivor 2 – Code: Veronica I’m looking at you). Most people will remember the dogs or they’ll remember the last one they played, probably Resident Evil 7, but I’ve also got a few memories from the whole series that I want to share with you. Moments that will continue to get me, no matter how many times I play through these games.
I’m not sure I need to tell you, but a few minor spoilers lie within…
Those bloody dogs
I had to start with this, didn’t I? It’s a completely inconsequential moment in the game as a whole, yet it’s one of the most iconic moments in the series. Possibly in all horror games, actually.
You’ve only just entered the Spencer mansion and discovered that your teammates are missing, and you’re simply trying to get your bearings as you begin investigating this strange place in the middle of Raccoon Forest. You enter a seemingly innocent corridor, complete with outdated decor and a couple of windows that look out into the night. Why would you suspect anything?
Of course, a simple walk turns into a frantic nightmare as a pair of zombified dogs, the very same ones that chased you into the mansion in the first place, come crashing through the windows and come snarling and snapping at your throat. It’s such a simple moment, but without any fanfare or cutscenes, it creates one of the defining moments of the survival horror genre.
These guys (or gals, I’m not entirely sure if they have a set sex or not, quite frankly) actually stopped me playing the game for a bit. No, I’m not joking. I mean, I was only about thirteen at the time but the Hunters were so different from everything else in the game and were introduced around halfway through, and I struggled to adapt for a short while.
You’ve just taken a trip to the guardhouse and dealt with the sharks (they almost made it into this list, thanks to my own particular fears) and Plant 42, and you’ve found that key you needed to access the last few locked doors in the main mansion. You head back, thinking you’ve cleared the zombies and have nothing to worry about, only for that terrifying cutscene, seen from the perspective of the Hunter, and you wonder what hell is about to open the door you’ve just walked through…
Then you find out that they’re super tough and incredible deadly (they can kill you in one claw swipe, if you’re not careful), and they just so happen to have basically replaced zombies as the main enemy for the next few hours. When you hear their unmistakable footsteps and that shriek, you know you’re in trouble.
In the remake, which is still incredible by the way, your return to the mansion isn’t just plagued by Hunters. When I first played it back on the Gamecube and I was given a fuel canteen, I wondered what the hell was going on. What was it for? Oh man, was it a horrible discovery when I found out the answer to that question.
Those harmless zombies that shambled about the place earlier, rarely ever getting close enough to harm? If you hadn’t blown their heads off or set their bodies on fire, you were in for a very bloody, frightening surprise. I remember thinking it was cool that zombies’ bodies stayed where they were, unlike the disappearing corpses in the original PlayStation games, but that quickly gave way to, “what the-OH SHIT SHIT SHIT,” when one of those bodies almost leapt to its feet and began sprinting at me!
Oh, but I hope they make a return in the Resident Evil 2 remake.
Of course this thing would make an appearance in this list. The jewel in the crown of Umbrella’s experiments, the hulking mass of muscle and claw, the Tyrant was magnificent to behold. When Wesker introduced you to it, your heart just sank, as you wondered how in the hell you were supposed to fight that thing. When it broke out of its tank and impaled Wesker, tossing him aside like a ragdoll, you knew this was the endgame.
After the battle in the lab and your subsequent escape to the roof of the mansion, even though you knew the Tyrant was felled a little easily, it was still a shock when it came bursting through the concrete and landed in front of you. I’ll admit to thinking it would be another simple fight, as it only ever walked at a slow pace in the lab, but obviously shooting it a dozen times with a bazooka only served to piss it off. I remember going into full-on panic mode, when it launched itself at me, its massive claw trailing red as it bore down on me with only death on its mind. Add to that the self-destruct timer that was constantly ticking down, you can imagine how panic stricken I was.
The remake introduced a few new things to the Spencer mansion. The most terrifying of all was the stumbling mass of flesh known as Lisa Trevor, the daughter of the Spencer mansion’s architect. After being imprisoned and experimented upon by Umbrella for years, Lisa became an almost indestructible monster and wore the face of a woman she had believed to be her mother. As in, she had cut it off a woman pretending to be her mother, believing that the face had been stolen. Her design is one of the most disturbing and affecting in the entire series, it’s almost a shame that she appeared only briefly.
Resident Evil 2
The interrogation room
Resident Evil 2’s new addition, the Licker, had a very atmospheric and chilling reveal. However, not unlike the dogs in the original game, it was a single scripted moment, without fanfare, that many people will remember.
Early on in the game, you’ll likely have found the observation room that looked into the interrogation room. You will have picked up a few items and moved on, completely forgetting the locked interrogation room door until later on. Upon entering, you’ll look at picking up items again, only this time the observation room next door won’t be empty. Of course, all you see is a mirror, so you won’t have any idea that a Licker is about to come crashing through in an attempt to eat your face.
Brown trousers almost definitely followed that jump scare.
Resident Evil 2 added something that hasn’t really been used in games since: Scenario B. As the story followed two characters on separate paths that converged from time to time, Capcom decided that each character should have a “B” scenario, in which you would see what the other character got up to. Effectively, this meant that Resident Evil 2 was four games in one package, which still makes it incredible value for money to this day.
The most terrifying part of this second scenario was undoubtedly Mr. X. I remember when his entrance cutscene triggered for the first time, leaving me at first confused, then immediately terrified when this trench coat-wearing, dead-eyed hulk dropped through the ceiling in the very corridor I was in! I hesitate to say much more of this thing, given that it may spoil the upcoming remake, but just know that he will stalk you and he is practically invincible. Whenever he showed up in the original, my heart rate would increase exponentially.
Resident Evil 3
An obvious inclusion in any list of scary moments, not just one based on the Resident Evil series, the Nemesis is infamous for its ability to turn even the hardiest of people into whimpering wrecks.
Created by Umbrella and programmed to hunt down and destroy all traces of the S.T.A.R.S. members in Raccoon City, this monstrous being towered over Jill Valentine as it pursued her throughout the game. In a true first in the series, you were never really safe when exiting a room, and the first time you heard a door open and close behind you was confusing, followed immediately by sheer panic and terror as Nemesis came charging after you.
Remember the first time he appeared and you were given the choice of what to do? Even that simple change sent my heart racing. Even worse, if you didn’t make the choice in time, Nemesis would simply attack and you’d be forced to fight it out in the courtyard. I would probably say that Nemesis still stands as one of the scariest pursuers in any horror game.
Resident Evil 4
That shuddering breath will bring back terrible memories for most players of Resident Evil 4. Remember that area filled with their corpses? You had no idea which, if any, would get up and chase you.
Regenerators were creepy in both appearance and audio, but what made them worse was how difficult they were to kill. You wouldn’t have much time to react to them and they would nearly always appear in close proximity, and the only way to effectively kill them was to use a thermal scope in order to see their weak points. If you didn’t have one equipped, you would just have to waste ammo until your luck came in.
The man in the oven
Oh man, this guy gets everyone. If you speak to somebody that says they didn’t jump at this scare, they either haven’t played Resident Evil 4…or they’re lying to you.
You’re a decent way into the game, in a quiet spot. You come across a rather disgusting kitchen area (is there any other kind of kitchen in a Resident Evil game?) with stripped animal carcasses hanging from the ceiling and flies buzzing around the offal strewn about the place. It’s nasty, but the quiet moment allows you to slow down your heart rate and catch your breath, until you make your way toward the tall oven around the corner…
BOOM! Flaming Ganado, comin’ atcha!
Yes, it’s a cheap jump scare, but it’s so incredibly effective.
Resident Evil 7
I know these things show up a lot in Resident Evil 7, but they’re almost always a cause of stress and fear during the entirety of the game. The basement is a particularly tense moment, when you enter the claustrophobic, mould-infested darkness and the shadows begin to move. You don’t have much ammo and you’re easily surrounded if you’re not careful, and these horrifying creatures lurch at you erratically, making it easy to miss shots.
The worst moment comes later on, when you find yourself trapped on a ship with them, completely unarmed. They patrol the corridors and at one point, one drops down on you in the laundry room. It’s not quite Amnesia levels of anxiety, but that whole section did have me on edge all the way through.
Finally, we come to the biggest source of anxiety and fear in Resident Evil 7: Jack “Why Won’t You Die?” Baker. Right from the moment he force feeds you a knife, you know he’s not a particularly nice chap.
He’s actually one of the most simply designed villains in all of Resident Evil’s history, but its this lack of tentacles and extra eyeballs that actually makes him all the more terrifying. He simply stalks you over and over, rarely giving you a chance to catch your breath throughout the entire opening third of the game.
I think his best moment comes fairly early on, when you’re just trying to find a way to get out of the Bakers’ house. You haven’t seen anyone or anything for a while and the last time you saw Jack he was blowing his own brains out in the garage, so like most of the best horror moments, you have lowered your guard. Big mistake, but even the most seasoned horror veterans fall for it. You’ve explored the bathroom and are on your way out when suddenly Jack has you by the throat, his face a bubbling mass of black sludge, and you’re trapped in a tiny room with him.
Jack taps into that same feeling of heart-pounding tension and sudden bouts of fear, that the Nemesis brought with it back in Resident Evil 3. Only this time you’re in first-person view and feel all the more claustrophobic, but thankfully Jack doesn’t own a rocket launcher…
There are many, many scares in the Resident Evil series, from the games mentioned above to the spin-offs and sequels I haven’t included. The invisible enemies in Revelations 2, or the Nosferatu boss in Code: Veronica, are just a couple of examples you might remember. Perhaps you’re an arachnophobe, scared witless by the giant spiders in the original game’s guardhouse, or in the sewers of Resident Evil 2? Oh, I feel for you, thinking of how much more terrifying they’ll be in next year’s remake.
I could go on and on (even more than I already have) about Resident Evil’s best moments, but why not let us know your favourite scares in the series?