Whether you believe that the “survival horror” subgenre is dead or not, you can’t deny that Capcom’s Resident Evil series aided in bringing horror games to the mainstream.
The mid-’90s and early ’00s brought forth a stream of games that aimed to shock the player in numerous ways. Resident Evil’s claim to fame was its use of tension and “jump” scares to keep the player on his or her toes. Recent entries in the series (yesterday’s Resident Evil 6 included) are straying away from that sort of horror in favor of a more action-packed experience, but that’s not to say we haven’t forgotten about all those horrific moments.
Whether it’s running from Nemesis, getting ambushed by a Licker for the first time or being a Crimson Head zombie’s latest snack, the Resident Evil series has had its fair share of frightening and intense moments. Allow us to share some with you.
Biggest pants-soiling moment: Every encounter with Mr. X (Resident Evil 2 )
Before all of those terrifying chases involving Nemesis in Resident Evil 3, there was Mr. X.
Although officially called “Tyrant” or “T-103,” fans of Resident Evil 2 took to adapting the name “Mr. X” from the game’s novelization. This towering, menacing, trench coat-wearing monster freaked me out to no end in my early teenage years.
Mr. X was an enemy you’d come across throughout Claire’s and Leon’s “B” scenario. He has only one mission, and that is to kill any remaining survivors in Raccoon City. Capcom effectively used him to strike fear into the hearts of many gamers, myself included. On your first playthrough you never knew when to expect him, and when he made his entry it was always done in a crazily sudden and freakish matter.
I can easily remember my first encounter with him in what is dubbed the “Crow Hallway” in the RPD. I was completely taken by surprise when I turned the hallway and was met with his giant fist, complete with a frightening “crash” which kicks off the suspenseful music. My heart skipped a beat and I did what any smart RE player did – I got the eff out of there. That bastard took way too much firepower to bring down.
The most clever thing Capcom did with Mr. X was managing to scare the player twice in a brief period. After solving a lighter-based puzzle in one room in order to grab a cogwheel, Mr. X bursts through the wall right next to you. I recall being so taken aback that I had to duck out into the inventory screen to recollect my composure. Knowing that Mr. X disappears after you leave a room, I took a sigh of relief as I left the room and proceeded to turn the corner and run down the hallway. BAM! Mr. X bursts through another freaking wall right in front of you. Good God.
Even after multiple playthroughs, I was still dreading every impending encounter with him. Even though he strolled toward you slowly, avoiding him in narrow corridors was a difficult task. He was the barrier between me and that precious save point, and dammit I wasn’t going to let him succeed.
- Patrick Kulikowski
Biggest pants-soiling moment: Del Lago (Resident Evil 4 )
Ok, so water and I have a strange friendship. I agree to kayak peacefully on it, so long as it doesn’t drag me into a horrible death at the bottom of a river with my lungs filled with mud and despair. It’s an irrational fear I manage to keep out of my head most of the time.
Except Resident Evil 4 manages to twist in the knife of that particular fear.
I first encountered Del Lago, or as I like to call him, Mutant Lake Placid Spawn, while I was in a GameStop. The demo was for the Wii version of the game, and I decided to pick it up because why not, I had never played a Resident Evil game before.
Now the novel thing about the Wii version is that instead of button mashing, you shook the controller as if you were running when you were in a special event. In this case, when Del Lago tossed the hapless Leon out of his boat, all I was told to do was shake my controller in order to swim back to my boat. And with the ensuing terror of being eaten alive, the controller almost flew out of my hand.
Each time I was thrown out of the boat, the faster Del Lago pursued me, and the faster my heart would pound. The thought of being dragged beneath the surface of the lake, being chewed on like a piece of gristle, and slowly bleeding to death in a putrid mix of corpses and slime, filled me with a cold dread.
The most potent fear-inducer was the fact that you only saw the monster in brief segments. It wasn’t like you saw its terrifying body every second, no, the game hides it out of sight, letting your imagination come up with what is lurking in the deep. And my imagination often gets the better of me.
Sure it’s just a game, but when the vigorous shaking of a controller gets your heart rate going, you can’t help but feel a little anxious.
- Tom Farndon
Biggest pants-soiling moment: Multiple moments in Resident Evil 4
While Resident Evil 4 isn’t often considered the most terrifying Resident Evil, I certainly found it as one of the most intense games I’ve played. Several moments spring to mind: that time the cage drops atop Leon with the blind claw dude inside, that other time Leon has to navigate a maze filled with zombie dogs and, of course, those lovely Regenerators.
However, I think my most terrifying experience with the game was with a creature of much lower caliber. Midway through the castle chapter of the game, Leon is tasked with propping Ashely up onto a higher ledge to run and activate a switch. Of course, Leon has to manage the Zealots above and below and deal with the stress and tension that comes from it. While sniping at Zealots attacking Ashley, a zombie’s great, big ugly face popped into my scope.
As my view panned out, the bastard held up his mace and smashed Leon in face. I screamed loud enough–and maybe a bit like a twelve year old girl–to wake up both my parents, my brother and send my dog into a frenzy. I was 15 or so, okay? The way Resident Evil 4 builds up tension had me standing on a terrified edge until that very moment, and my family paid the price for it.
- Lowell Bell
Biggest pants-soiling moment: The first Iron Maiden in Resident Evil 4
One of the most frightening things about zombies used to be how unrelenting they were. In early genre films like Night of the Living Dead, the unfettered determination and droning relentlessness of the zombie nearly always meant that death was right outside that barricaded door and looking for a meal.
With the release of Resident Evil 4, the series walked away from that motif. Gone were T-Virus infected zombies.
And then came the Iron Maidens. During a section of RE4 where Leon is in a lab, surrounded by experimental baddies, a spindly, eyeless grey monstrosity is seen over a surveilance camera. I remember girding myself for an attack, preparing my herbs and reloading my shotgun, waiting for my assailant.
When it finally walked through the door, I fired shell after shell into it – but it never flinched. Sure, chunks were missing from its body and head but it never wavered. Sure, you could blow a leg off it but it would just grow a new one and keep on coming.
No matter what I threw at this thing, it just would not stay down.
For those that didn’t realize that you needed a thermal scope for the sniper rifle in that area to kill up to five special parasites on the thing’s body, this encounter usually ended with Leon backed into a corner and the grotesque creation skewering him with the spikes emanating from its body that lend to the Iron Maiden moniker.
While its unrelenting, plodding attack was scary, the way the creature moves is pure nightmare fuel. As it slowly walks forward, it’s constantly twitching at an irregular rate, it’s mouth opening to display its garishly long chompers.
And the breathing – oh man, the labored, irregular breathing.
…Where’s my nightlight again?