Resident Evil vs. Silent Hill: Which Franchise is Scarier?

The original Resident Evil game used a combination of limited resources, cumbersome controls, and limited defensive options to make the player feel helpless. While some say that those early RE titles were only as scary as they were because they were more “difficult,” that’s kind of an odd sentiment considering that Resident Evil was trying to prove that horror games could be as scary as films while trying to also make the most of a particularly rough era for 3D game design. That fact that Resident Evil was even that playable has to be considered a minor technological miracle.

Besides, can you honestly say you can play through Resident Evil or its remake and not still feel a little scared? There’s something about the first game’s blend of intimate, almost claustrophobic design and expertly timed scares that has aged shockingly well. We may now know that a dog is going to jump through that hallway window, but it’s almost impossible to not feel your body tense up in the moments leading up to even the game’s most iconic frights.

As their respective remakes showed, Resident Evil 2 and 3 were such well designed pieces of horror that their basic ideas and best moments still managed to terrify players even when you remove their more restrictive design elements. Granted, it didn’t hurt that both games successfully utilized the classic “a giant monster is chasing you, run away as fast as you can right now” concept, but as those still clamoring for a Resident Evil – Code: Veronica remake will probably tell you, these classic Resident Evil games balanced quick “jump” scares and lingering dread in such innovative and unique ways that it’s almost hard to expect modern developers to replicate their magic.

Some will argue that the Resident Evil series sacrificed scares for action with Resident Evil 4-6, but that too feels like a bit of an extreme take on the matter. While I’d also argue that those three games suffer from some diminishing returns in terms of their scares (especially compared to the original RE games), they represent a time when Capcom clearly experimented with how they could make the scariest action games possible. While some titles gave them a run for their money (Alan Wake and The Suffering come to mind), those Resident Evil sequels remained some of the scariest on the market at another time in gaming history when people were questioning whether or not gaming horror was even viable.

Besides, Resident Evil 7 once again showed that when the RE team just wants to scare the hell out of you, they’re arguably still the best at doing it. After titles like Amnesia and Outlast set a new bar for scary video games, Resident Evil came out swinging at the very idea that anyone would dare come after their crown. It may have borrowed from some of the other games of that era, but Resident Evil 7 managed to tie so many ideas from so many different styles of horror together so cleanly that it’s only after you stopped screaming that you probably appreciated it the scope of the soft revival’s accomplishments. Of course, those who played the game in VR are probably still screaming.

With Resident Evil Village, Capcom continues to find ways to keep the Resident Evil franchise scary even at a time when others in the industry cling to the narrative that the public doesn’t want games like scary, short, narrative-driven titles like Resident Evil Village. We’ve seen so many horror franchises lose their bite after only a couple installments, but Resident Evil has been scaring and entertaining us in shockingly equal measures for over 25 years now. At its best, it’s the source of some of gaming’s greatest scares ever.

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