Resident Evil 7 is looking to rewrite the rules of the popular franchise with its original spin on the lore, and this is largely due to the downward spiral of the series’ critical reception. From the highs of Resident Evil 4 to the lows of Resident Evil 6, Capcom has been unable to keep up with those that it inspired with each of its revolutionary hits.
But you know what? Despite their reputation, Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6 are still really popular. Capcom has confirmed that the three games remastered for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have sold a combined total of 1.5 million copies, with 1 million of them alone coming from North American fans.
Why this matters
Now, I know it’s not entirely correct to point at Resident Evil 4, one of the greatest video games ever made, and say that it doesn’t have backlash. For some of the classic games’ staunchest defenders, it very much gets some blame for taking the game into a more action oriented direction. I don’t agree with this line of thought at all, and the series did exactly what it needed to survive without sacrificing that important horror element.
The game still revolved around a slow, lumbering character who couldn’t walk while aiming and had to conserve bullets. That’s essentially everything that set Resident Evil apart from other action games before it. And yes, despite some of its sillier villains, it’s still a frightening game. Deriders often point to the countless action games it spawned, including its own successors, as evidence for the game taking things in the wrong direction, but I say that it was worth it. When it first came out, nothing played like Resident Evil 4, and it revolutionized the way we see action games.
If the blame can be pointed anywhere, it’s at Resident Evil 5. This is an action game through and through, but it’s also a very good one. Its co-op gameplay was about as top notch as playing with a friend got back when it was released, and it’s also Capcom’s best-selling title of all time. Sadly, many of the fans of the older games dismiss it for this action focus even more so than Resident evil 4, and its legacy gets chided far more often than it should. Resident Evil 5 brought something different to the table, but it did so about as brilliantly as any game could.
Resident Evil 6… yeah, I’m not going to defend that one.
The point is that while Capcom might be taking the artistic route to evolve its franchise, the previous formula can still put up impressive numbers. 1.5 million copies sold is nothing to sneer at when, in some cases, an entire decade has passed since its prime. No doubt the movies also play into this continuing popularity, but if Resident Evil 7’s formula doesn’t work out, at least the company knows it can go right back to shooting zombies in the face and still turn a profit.
Just, please, if that happens, use Resident Evil 4‘s offspring like Dead Space or The Evil Within for inspiration. Not Resident Evil 6.