If you are a gamer in any way, shape or form, chances are you’ve played games where your sole purpose is to survive some sort of horrible scenario; a demonic town, a hellish prison, the now-standard zombie apocalypse. Today—March 22, 2016—marks the 20th anniversary of the game that created the genre known as survival horror, and left a lasting imprint on everyone who played it back in '96.
That’s right, it’s been 20 years since we entered the dark, zombie-infested hallways of Resident Evil (or Biohazard, as it’s known in Japan). Since the franchise’s inception it has sold over 66 million copies worldwide, spawned a successful feature film series (the sixth and reportedly final flick is due in 2017) and inspired a litany of games that owe their existence, and by extension their success, to the very first Resident Evil.
One of the things Resident Evil did so incredibly well was the ambience. As you were playing though the game, there was always an inescapable feeling that shit could get real at any given moment. For example, the iconic scene where you encounter the first zombie in the game: a creepy video of a zombie eating its victim, only to pause and turn its attention to you, quickly making you realize that it was about to go down. What followed thereafter were jump-scares galore, puzzles, plot twists and some shoddy voice acting. (Hey, it all can't be perfect.)
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t shout out the soundtrack, which is one of the most memorable compositions in video game history, the most memorable moment being the Save Room theme:
Resident Evil is indeed a classic and a trailblazer that needs to be recognized as such. If you haven’t played it since 1996, or you’re intrigued and have never set foot in the mansion, do yourself a favor, find a copy (they re-mastered the original in 2002 and again in 2015), turn off the lights, raise the volume and enjoy the godfather of survival horror.
For more gaming nostalgia, watch cosplayers at New York Comic Con 2015 talk about the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Entertainment System: