Best Resident Evil Games Ranked
Very few gaming franchises have persisted through the years like Resident Evil. Since the release of the first game over 25 years ago, the series has gone through multiple genre and perspective changes, defining and reinventing the concept of survival horror, revolutionising the third-person shooter, and making one of the biggest comebacks in gaming history. This willingness to reinvent itself has seen it stay fresh over multiple generations, and a number of high-quality titles. So with the recent announcement of the Resident Evil 4 Remake coming in 2023, we thought we would present our list of the top 10 best Resident Evil games ranked.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil Zero (#10)
The beginning area of Resident Evil Zero is one of the strongest areas in the whole franchise, but that very much causes it to be a game of two halves, where the promising start doesn't quite match up to the rest. Zero is a prequel set shortly before the events of the first game, putting you in the shoes of S.T.A.R.S member Rebecca Chambers and an escaped convict called Billy Coen. While previous games gave you the choice of characters, Zero sees you play as both of them during the story, switching between them with the press of a button to solve puzzles and manage inventory space.
This gimmick can wear quite thin though, as it often leads to backtracking and cumbersome puzzle design, but the dynamic between the characters and the bond that forms over the course of the game feels well-earned. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Zero is the soundtrack and atmosphere, with it containing some of the most haunting tracks in the franchise and an outstanding use of silence for tension.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil 5 (#9)
Resident Evil 5 had the difficult job of following up Resident Evil 4, a title that shook up the franchise massively with its shift toward more action-horror that has seen it canonised as one of the greatest games ever made. It's fair to say that it didn't live up to its forbearer, taking the wrong lessons from its design and chasing the modern military trend of the time. However, underneath all the grit, there's a competent coop shooter that retains enough of Resident Evil's core identity to make it worth a place on this list.
It saw the return of RE1 protagonist Chris Redfield and the introduction of Sheva Alomar as they were tasked with hunting down a bioweapon seller in West Africa, eventually leading them to the OG villain himself, Albert Wesker. It was specifically designed with co-op in mind, forcing players to prioritise teamwork in boss fights especially, resulting in some of the more unique encounters in the series. If you have a friend to play with, Resident Evil 5 can be a blast, but if you're looking for solo scares, this isn't the entry for you.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil Code Veronica (#8)
Code Veronica is an often forgotten entry in the franchise, released onto a failing console and sticking with the old survival-horror format as audience tastes began to shift, it didn't perform the greatest compared to previous titles, but it improved on the formula of the first three titles in many ways. While it seems like a spin-off due to the title, Code Veronica is a main entry and continues the story after the events in Raccoon City, as Claire and Chris Redfield team up to take down Umbrella Corporation.
At the time, it felt very different from the preceding games, and the developers purposefully tried to veer away from the American-centric design that came previously, both from a tonal, story, and aesthetic sense. It was also the first game to ditch the pre-rendered backgrounds and static camera angles, giving it a more dynamic feel that matched the more movie-like story it wanted to present.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil Revelations (#7)
Once the numbered titles went off the deep end back in the early 2010s, Resident Evil Revelations provided players with a return to form that brought back the series' survival horror roots. It took on an episodic format that allowed it to explore a few locales and characters, but most of the story revolved around Jill Valentine exploring a ghost ship.
It showed that Capcom still had a flare for the scare thanks to its tense and moody atmosphere, and the slow-paced combat rewarded carefully executed shots. Resource management was also brought back thanks to the scarcity of ammo and health, meaning that evasion and exploration was once again a valid tactic for avoiding the enemies.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil 3 Nemesis (#6)
Despite being numbered like a mainline entry, Resident Evil 3 Nemesis was the first spin-off for the franchise and the first title to venture into the more action-packed side of RE. Despite playing mostly the same as the first two games, it contained features like the dodge roll and quick turn which allowed for more mobility during the enemy encounters. There was also the choice set pieces, where players would be presented with two options that would affect the rest of the game and its ending.
The main reason that RE3 is still fondly remembered is due to the main enemy - Nemesis. In the story, Nemesis was a bioweapon by Umbrella that was sent into Raccoon City to kill any remaining S.T.A.R.S members, so they couldn't whistle blow on Umbrella's involvement with the T-Virus. Throughout most of the game, Nemesis could follow you, often surprising you from out of nowhere and putting the player into a fight or flight mode that raised the tension of every single second.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil Village (#5)
After Resident Evil 7's return to pure survival horror, Village came along to push forward the action side of the franchise again, but it importantly didn't go too far this time, landing it at our mid spot of the best Resident Evil games. Village took the first-person perspective and puzzle design of the previous title, while also harkening back to the action-horror of Resident Evil 4, effectively balancing the best of both worlds.
It saw the return of Ethan as he explored a gothic castle and village in rural Romania for his daughter, eventually taking him on a quest to defeat the four local lords of the region. Enemy-wise, it's one of the most varied in the franchise's history, featuring werewolves, vampires, and robotic mutants, and bosses like Lady Dimitrescu and Heisenberg have already become fan-favourites in a short space of time.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil 7 Biohazard (#4)
Earlier, we mentioned that Resident Evil had the best comeback in gaming history, and that's all thanks to this title. After the disaster that was Resident Evil 6, Capcom knew they needed to go back to the drawing board and reimagine the series while also returning to its survival horror roots. They settled on a first-person perspective and a modern interpretation of the classic puzzle and exploration design from the first games. To say it worked would be an understatement.
The early hours of Resident Evil 7 may have the best moments in the entire series thanks to the focus on pure horror, and the cast of terrifying characters you'll run into. The game follows a new protagonist, Ethan, as he attempts to track down his wife in a rundown plantation near the Louisiana bayou, but before long you run into the nightmarish Baker family who've been driven mad by toxic mold. The patriarch of the family, Jack Baker, spends a good portion of the early game hunting you around the house, making for an experience you'll likely never forget.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil 4 (#3)
Despite being one of the greatest action-horror games of all time, Resident Evil 4 was in many ways the beginning of RE's downfall. It saw a sharp turn away from the direction of previous games, abandoning the fixed camera angles, and exploration and puzzle gameplay in favour of a third-person perspective and bigger focus on action. However, RE4 still managed to retain that survival-horror identity in a few key ways, making it one of the most ambitious games in the franchise.
Combat and movement once again featured tank controls and restricted the player from moving when aiming, forcing you to think quickly about positioning and hitting your shots while faced with waves of the intelligent Ganado enemies. The game's story is also wildly out there at points, with its campy humour and cheesy dialogue, but it still never detracts from the tension of the experience, which is best summarised by the openeing village section.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil 2 Remake (#2)
The Resident Evil 2 Remake was a wild surprise for all of us at the time of its announcement, and questions about how Capcom would retain the spirit of the original while modernising it were warranted. They only went and knocked it out of the park though, producing a masterpiece of modern survival horror.
RE2 Remake jumped back into the third-person perspective of the franchise and slowed things down to a crawl, emphasising exploration and puzzles. One of the game's smartest decisions was making the killing of zombies inconsistent, as they could require anywhere from one to ten bullets in the head, forcing you to think about when to conserve ammo and evade, and when it's best to clear the area. It's a wonderful recreation of a classic, and the police station is one of the strongest areas of the whole franchise.
Best Resident Evil Games: Resident Evil 1 Remake (#1)
There was only one choice to grace the number one spot of our list of the best Resident Evil games, and it's the remake of the one that started it all. Resident Evil Remake was released back in 2002, and the sheer difference that six years of game evolution made was astonishing. It perfected that old school survival horror format, with cinematic and curated fixed camera angles, tank controls, and incredible level design that constantly challenged you.
The developers took the chance to reimagine the orginal Resident Evil as they initally envsionised, dialling up the horror in every way, expanding the game with new stories and areas, and improving the controls. It also brought the Spencer Mansion to life with vivid detail to amp up the creepy factor, while contrasting its oppulence with the horrors surrounding it.
Very few games can boast at creating an atmosphere as effectively gripping and full of dread as Resident Evil Remake, and it set the standard for what a remake could be. It's a game that's influence can be seen in every survival horror that followed, and to this day very few horror experiences can live up to its quality.