Resident Evil is a survival horror video game developed and released by Capcom originally for the PlayStation in 1996, and is the first game in the Resident Evil series. The game's plot follows Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, members of an elite task force known as S.T.A.R.S., as they investigate the outskirts of Raccoon City following the disappearance of their team members. They soon become trapped in a mansion infested with zombies and other monsters. The player, having selected to play as Chris or Jill at the start of the game, must explore the mansion to uncover its secrets.
First conceived by producer Tokuro Fujiwara as a remake of his earlier horror game Sweet Home (1989), the development of Resident Evil was led by Shinji Mikami. It went through several redesigns, initially a Super NES game in 1993, then a fully 3D first-person PlayStation game in 1994, and then finally a third-person game with pre-rendered backdrops. Gameplay consists largely of third-person action with added emphasis on inventory management, exploration, and puzzle solving. Resident Evil establishes many conventions seen later in the series, including the control scheme, inventory system, save system, and use of 3D models superimposed over pre-rendered backgrounds.
Resident Evil was very well received critically and commercially, receiving praise for its graphics, gameplay, sound, and atmosphere, although it received some criticism for its voice acting. Beyond video games, Resident Evil has been credited with re-popularising zombies in mainstream popular culture from the late 1990s onwards (along with The House of the Dead), leading to a renewed interest in zombie films during the 2000s. Resident Evil has since been hailed as one of the most influential and greatest video games of all time. Its success has spawned a multimedia franchise including video games, films, comics, novels, and other merchandise. The game has received dedicated ports to the Sega Saturn, Windows, and Nintendo DS. In 2002, a remake of the same name was released for the GameCube featuring updated graphics, sound, and changes to the gameplay and story. A high-definition remaster of the GameCube game was released in 2015 for modern platforms. A sequel, Resident Evil 2, was released in 1998, and a prequel, Resident Evil Zero, in 2002.
On July 24, 1998, when a series of bizarre murders occur on the outskirts of the fictional Midwestern town of Raccoon City, the Raccoon City Police Department's S.T.A.R.S. team are assigned to investigate. After contact with Bravo Team is lost, Alpha Team is sent to investigate their disappearance. Alpha Team locates Bravo Team's crashed helicopter and land at the site, where they are suddenly attacked by a pack of monstrous dogs, killing team member Joseph Frost. After Alpha Team's helicopter pilot, Brad Vickers, panics and takes off alone, the remaining members of the team (Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Albert Wesker, and Barry Burton) are forced to seek refuge in a nearby abandoned mansion.
Depending on which character the player assumes control of, either Chris or Barry are separated from the rest of the team during the chase and do not make it to the mansion. At this point, the team decides to split up to investigate. Over the course of the game, the player character may encounter several members of Bravo Team, including Enrico Marini, the captain of the Bravo Team, who reveals that one of Alpha Team's members is a traitor before being shot and killed by an unseen assailant. The player character eventually learns that a series of illegal experiments were being undertaken by a clandestine research team under the authority and supervision of biomedical company Umbrella Corporation. The creatures roaming the mansion and its surrounding areas are the results of these experiments, which have exposed the mansion's personnel and various animals and insects to a highly contagious and mutagenic biological agent known as the T-virus.
Eventually, the player character discovers a secret underground laboratory containing Umbrella's experiments. In the lab, the player encounters Wesker, who reveals that he is a double agent working for Umbrella, and plans to use the Tyrant, a giant humanoid supersoldier, to kill the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members. However, in the ensuing confrontation, Wesker is supposedly killed, and the player character defeats the Tyrant. After activating the lab's self-destruct system, the player character reaches the heliport and manages to contact Brad for extraction, at which point the player may be confronted by Tyrant one last time. The game features multiple endings depending on the player's actions at key points over the course of the game.