The best Resident Evil games are true nightmare fuel. From haunting crawls through the Spencer Mansion, to hostile encounters in Raccoon City, to breakneck sprints around derelict castles, and beyond, Resi has a tendency to create moments of true white-knuckle terror. When you look at the 30 year history of this series – with all of its mutations and transformations – it's no surprise that so many of its instalments are considered among the best horror games ever made.
What's impressive is that so many of the best Resident Evil games have stood the test of time. Not to mention how much variation there is – there are true contenders for our best action games ranking in here, not to mention our list of the best single-player games. But above all else, the best Resident Evil games are good for one thing, and one thing only: scaring the living daylights out of you.
15. Resident Evil 6
Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Switch
Oh dear. This is where the legendary horror series started to go seriously off the rotting rails. Further diluting the already action-heavy systems of Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil 6 bloated shambles crisscrosses a trio of shortened campaigns in a desperate attempt to hold your attention.
While Leon’s Resident Evil 4-lite story functions just fine – albeit with some overly tryhard, Vanquish-aping controls – Chris and the completely forgettable Jake Muller’s sections are close to outright bad. Though much of the game is an unfocused mess, it’s both technically competent and (much later down the line) lead to the revitalised rebirth of the series with Resident Evil 7.
14. Resident Evil 5
Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Switch
How do you build on one of the best action/horror games of all time? Just throw out the few scares that remained and replace them with an underwhelming co-op system that drains the final lingering fibres of fright out of Resident Evil.
Chris and Sheva’s African adventure was initially crushed by overwhelming hype, and the subsequent years haven’t been kind. With its gimmicky QTEs and gore-free shootouts, Resident Evil 5 started a decade-long decline that would gradually erode the legendary series’ name.
13. Resident Evil Revelations
Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Switch
When it first launched on Nintendo 3DS, the technical accomplishments and refreshingly focused ship liner-set action helped gloss over the fact the combat in Resident Evil Revelations was nowhere near as precise as that seen in Resident Evil 4. Still, after the unflattering bloat of the mainline series entries that came immediately before it, this tight little survival horror marks the point where Resi started to turn the decomposing corner.
12. Resident Evil
Platform(s): PS1, PC, Saturn, Nintendo DS
Resident Evil wasn't the first survival horror game, but it established a solid foundation that the genre would build upon for years to come. Abandoned in the Arklay Mountains, the remains of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team is forced to crawl through the claustrophobic corridors of the Spencer Estate in search of a solution to the deadly viral outbreak ravaging Raccoon City.
What follows is an atmospheric (and truly iconic) adventure that is remembered fondly for its ingenious architectural puzzles, punishing focus on survival, limited resources, and beloved characters that help enshrine this game as legend. Decades later, and despite those infamously deliberate tank controls, the original Resident Evil remains one of the greatest horror titles of all time. The aging tech of the PS1 classic may have aged as well as Barry Burton’s dialogue, but there’s no denying this was the start of one of the great video game dynasties.
11. Resident Evil Revelations 2
Platform(s): PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Switch
A horror homecoming after the cinematic action-focus the series had become enamored with following the success of Resident Evil 5. Designed around co-op play, and initially released as an episodic adventure, Resident Evil Revelations 2 was able to take the over-the-shoulder gunplay popularized by Resident Evil 4 and ground it once again in a world of survival horror. This remains an entertaining side attraction to the mainline series, a way to spend some additional time with fan-favorite characters and get a sense of how the franchise may have evolved had Capcom taken it down a different path.
10. Resident Evil Zero
Platform(s): GameCube, Wii, Switch, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
It’s easy to forget about the ‘One on the Train’, but Resident Evil Zero is actually a fine entry in Capcom’s iconic series. Building on the stunning fixed camera backgrounds of the 2002 remake, Zero makes itself slightly more welcoming to newcomers by introducing an item drop system and two main characters who you can swap between for most of the game.
One of the best opening acts in Resident Evil history ensures Zero takes a top ten ranking – remember that Scorpion boss? Even if the final third proves underwhelming next to the action of the Spencer Mansion original, this prequel remains a worthwhile Resi entry.
9. Resident Evil – Code: Veronica X
Platform(s): Dreamcast, PS2, PS3, Dreamcast, Xbox 360
Resident Evil – Code: Veronica was originally designed to carry the series into the future. While Nemesis ultimately landed with 'Resident Evil 3' emblazoned across its title screen, it's clear today that Code: Veronica was deserving of the title. It introduced real-time 3D environments and a more dynamic camera to sit in them, furthering Resident Evil's foray into action territory without exorcising the spirit of survival that embodied its core scenario design. Code: Veronica closed out Resident Evil's first chapter; it's a time-capsule that honors the past and hints at where it will go in the future.
8. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Platform(s): PS1, PC, Dreamcast, GameCube
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis found success in its capacity to subvert expectations. The introduction of Nemesis, an unkillable monstrosity that made the streets of Raccoon City more deadly than ever before, made it so there was never a safe place to hide; triggering a door animation would create a little distance, sure, but never a feeling that you were truly safe from harm. In presenting a world thick with tension, along with improved combat mechanics and mobility options, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is one of those rare survival horror games that grips you within minutes and never dares to let you loose.
7. Resident Evil 2
Platform(s): PS1, N64, PC, Dreamcast, Gamecube
Creating the foundation for a successful franchise is one thing; developing a successful sequel to it is something else entirely. Resident Evil 2 took the suspenseful action of its predecessor and the suffocating atmosphere that lingered in the Spencer Estate and draped it across a sprawling city under siege from the living dead. Resident Evil 2 is an ingenious survival horror game, bringing meticulously crafted spaces together with perfectly paced scenario design to form an experience that's as gripping today as it was in 1998. It’s simply one of the greatest sequels ever made, and the game that established Resident Evil's place in history as one of the medium’s best series.
6. Resident Evil Remake
Platform(s): GameCube, Wii, Switch, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
An astounding remake when it landed in 2002 and immediately became one of the best GameCube games ever made, this redux has lost none of its power in the years since. It's a lovingly crafted REmake (if you will), taking the bones of the 1996 original and rendering it anew – introducing new terrifying threats in the Crimson Head zombies, improved combat mechanics, and refined resource management to make what was once old feel fresh again.
2002’s Resident Evil Remake is also stunningly evocative, with its overhauled visual design so impressive that it’s still able to make the jaw drop so many years later. Capcom took an impressive game weathering the decay of time and preserved it in amber, ensuring one of survival horror's most formative experiences would remain as good to play today as the day it was first unleashed upon the world.
5. Resident Evil 3 Remake
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
About as faithful to the spirit of the original Resident Evil 3 as the ‘Greedo shoots first’ version of Star Wars, this handsome remake is still an exciting little action/horror hybrid. Yes, Nemesis is nowhere near as persistent or as scary a threat as in the PS1 original, yet when the mechanics are this solid – the redux wisely builds on the template laid down by 2019’s superb Resident Evil 2 Remake – it’s hard to overly grumble. If you can find this in a sale, Resident Evil 3 Remake’s breakneck five-hour, zombie-slaughtering quest will definitely induce goosebumps.
4. Resident Evil Village
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC
The most recent Resident Evil is also a bit of a ramshackle rollercoaster ride. Its highs prove the match of anything the series has done before – the terrifying dollhouse section with /that/ underground baby bit is probably as unsettling as the series has ever been. It’s not quite as good as Resident Evil 7, though.
While it introduces certain iconic characters, some pacing missteps – including a bizarre swamp section – rob Resident Evil Village of some of its horrifying venom. The odd wonky segment aside though, this is a high tension game that continues the successful series reinvention kick-started by Resident Evil 7.
3. Resident Evil 4
Platform(s): GameCube, PS2, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Switch
Without Resident Evil 4, this article ranking the best Resident Evil games probably doesn’t even exist. After several years in the wilderness, Leon’s undead Spanish adventure reintroduced Resident Evil to the grandest stage with the most almighty of bangs. One of the greatest action games of all time, this was a sweeping reinvention of the Resident Evil framework.
Setting the undead-slaying action over the shoulder of Leon S. Kennedy, Resident Evil 4 is both perfectly paced and utterly relentless. An experience designed to overwhelm from the first minute through to the last, Resi 4 is self-aware enough to revel in the ridiculousness of its own narrative arc. A truly remarkable game, and one that changed the entire industry around it.
2. Resident Evil 2 Remake
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
A superb revisioning of one of Resident Evil’s finest moments. To play this Resident Evil 2 Remake is to look through a window into an alternate history. The way it’s able to coalesce the methodical challenge of the original games with the tight over-the-shoulder third-person combat popularized by Resident Evil 4 shows where the series could (and should) have gone after Capcom changed the nature of play in 2005. It's a stunning love letter to the legacy of Resident Evil 2 and fearless in its attempt to make the past feel fresh for the present. Years on, this remains an incredible retake of a legendary game that not only stands as one of the best in the long-running series, but one of the best survival horror games of all-time.
1. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
The reboot that made Resident Evil relevant again. After years of wasteful excess, Capcom wisely doubled down on claustrophobic dread. Swapping out the absurdity of Resident Evil 6’s trio of storylines for a focused quest that takes place in a Deep South setting so unsettling, it makes Friday the 13th’s Camp Crystal Lake look like an idyllic vacation resort, Resident Evil 7 shines thanks to its crunching first-person combat and the diabolical Baker family.
In the latter, the series discovers some of its most effective antagonists. Stalking the hapless Ethan Winters through a thoroughly disconcerting bayou estate, Jack Baker and his posse are basically redneck versions of Alien Isolation’s titular Xenomorph. A pure, pulsating retake on Resident Evil, this is the game that put the series back on the nerve-shredding map.