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Resident Evil, 20 Years Later

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March 22, 2016 marks the 20th Anniversary of the release of Resident Evil, the iconic horror survival title that created the genre. Looking back, one really needs to appreciate what the game was able to achieve and how its legacy has survived.

Released in 1996, Resident Evil has become one of the most iconic games while setting the standards for the genre. The game was the brain child of Shinji Mikiami, who was inspired by the game Sweet Home and the works of horror film icon, George A. Romero.

The story itself has been hailed as one of the most memorable in gaming and has influenced the countless other horror games that followed.

S.T.A.R.S (a special unit of the Raccoon Police Department) is deployed to investigate a series of murders outside the city. However, the team is forced to take refuge in a mansion after being attacked by a pack of Cerberus (zombie dogs). From this point is when the real nightmare begins as Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine work to uncover the secrets of the Umbrella Corporation.

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Following in the footsteps of horror icon George A. Romero, the game uses the setting of a zombie outbreak to facilitate a social critique. The game is highly critical of the lack of ethics in pharmaceutical industry along with the influence of money in politics. At the same time, it’s a modern retelling of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein that focuses on the moral implications of unchecked scientific research.

Yet one thing Resident Evil has received little credit for is avoiding the stereotypical gender roles that are common in both video games and horror films.

Both Jill Valentine and Rebecca Chambers had a strong personality that made them into respectable feminist icons. At the same time their appearance was not sexualized nor was their role marginalized into that of  “the useless chick” but their character are made to be an actually heroine.

Resident Evil was originally released for the PlayStation followed by a PC and Sega Saturn version. Later, Capcom would release a Duel Shock version followed by a Directors Cut for the PlayStation. In 2002; the game was remade for the GameCube with improved graphics and a more eerie atmosphere.

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Its legacy has also survived through its sequels as Resident Evil 2 improved on the original game while Resident Evil 3: Nemesis continued the story. The origins of the outbreak were latter expanded through the story of Resident Evil 0. Then in 2005, the series once again redefined the concept of horror survival with Resident Evil 4.

However the series has also had a few blunders with disappointing titles like Resident Evil: Survivor and Code Veronica. Then there was those movies that could only be described as over glorified fan fiction. Yet it was the release of Resident Evil 6 that has put the future of the series into question.

Maybe, the success of the Resident Evil 2 remake will convince Capcom to return the series to its roots.

Despite its few rocky moments, Resident Evil is  a series that will continue to stay strong and remain part of gaming culture. It’s a series that has many times redefined the horror genre while its story has survived the test of time.

Did you ever play the original Resident Evil and what are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comment section. 

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About Stan Rezaee (335 Articles)
Stan Rezaee is the founder and Editor of 8Bit/Digi. He is a journalist and gamer from the Bay Area who has been writing about the medium for over five years.

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