Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise is one of the longest-running and most successful video game franchises ever conceived, with Capcom regularly releasing new games in the series on a near-annual basis – sometimes multiple games a year. The main series Resident Evil games have earned a great deal of critical acclaim over the years, but Capcom has also experimented with a wide variety of Resident Evil spin-off games as well that have had varying degrees of success.
The Resident Evil spin-off games mainly include light gun shooters, though Capcom has also released other kinds of Resident Evil spin-off games. Some of these efforts have proven successful, but others have been derided as some of the worst entries in the entire Resident Evil franchise.
With 2021 marking the Resident Evil franchise’s 25th anniversary, here is a history of all the Resident Evil spin-off games released so far.
The first Resident Evil game was originally intended to be in first-person, and while it was eventually switched to a third-person view, Resident Evil Survivor returned to the concept. Playable with a light gun or using a standard PlayStation controller, Resident Evil Survivor takes place some time after the events of Resident Evil 2, focusing on a new character named Ark Thompson who is investigating the Umbrella Corporation.
With all previous Resident Evil games earning critical acclaim, there was some expectation that Resident Evil Survivor would earn positive reviews as well. Unfortunately, Resident Evil Survivor set a precedent for Resident Evil spin-off games being significantly less impressive than the main series entries. Resident Evil Survivor was criticized for its poor controls, especially without a light gun, and for having inferior graphics when compared to other games in the series.
While Resident Evil is a worldwide success, the franchise’s second spin-off game has only ever released in Japan and Europe. It originally released in Japan as an arcade exclusive before making its way to the PlayStation 2. A fairly popular arcade release, Resident Evil Survivor 2 – Code: Veronica is even less significant to the franchise as a whole, as it’s merely a retread of the events of the proper Resident Evil Code: Veronica game. Not only that, but whole thing is just Claire Redfield having a nightmare. So while some fans in North America may be disappointed that they can’t experience the entire Resident Evil franchise without importing, this one is easily skipped.
Until Resident Evil Gaiden, the Resident Evil franchise had only been found on home consoles, PCs, and arcades. This game brought the Resident Evil franchise to a handheld device for the first time, originally launching for the Game Boy Color in 2001. Resident Evil Gaiden is non-canon, making it another Resident Evil spin-off game that fans of the franchise can ignore without missing out on much, but it does have an interesting story. The game is set on a passenger ship that has been overrun by zombies and other creatures, pairing together popular characters Barry Burton and Leon S. Kennedy.
Resident Evil Gaiden features similar puzzle solving and exploration as the main series Resident Evil games, but with some major changes, like a first-person viewpoint for combat. Unfortunately for Resident Evil fans, Resident Evil Gaiden was another swing and a miss on Capcom’s part and served as yet another disappointing spin-off game.
It’s possible that Resident Evil Gaiden inspired the next Resident Evil spin-off game, Resident Evil: Dead Aim. A light gun shooter like Resident Evil Survivor, Resident Evil: Dead Aim still earned poor reviews when matched up against the main series titles, but many critics deemed it a step in the right direction for the Resident Evil spin-off games. Like Resident Evil Gaiden before it, Dead Aim features a mix of first- and third-person gameplay, and is set on a boat.
Unlike Resident Evil Gaiden, Dead Aim features an all-new cast of playable characters, with protagonist Bruce McGivern in the starring role. But like other Resident Evil spin-off game characters, McGivern has not proven to be important to the overarching Resident Evil narrative and has since faded away into obscurity.
After many failed attempts at making a high quality Resident Evil spin-off game, Capcom finally struck gold with Resident Evil Outbreak. Resident Evil Outbreak is set during the Raccoon City incident, with a varied cast of playable characters to choose from, all with their own unique skills and abilities. Outbreak gives Resident Evil players unprecedented freedom when it comes to tackling its challenges; for example, if a door is locked, players can either find the key like normal, or they can choose to break down the door instead.
What’s most notable about Resident Evil Outbreak is its online multiplayer functionality. Online multiplayer wasn’t hugely supported on the PlayStation 2, however, and so it’s safe to say that many Resident Evil Outbreak fans had to stick to playing the game in single player.
Hot off the heels of Resident Evil Outbreak‘s success, Capcom moved forward with the sequel, File #2. Essentially a standalone expansion for the original game, Outbreak: File #2 featured the same playable characters as before with very similar gameplay, but with new maps to explore and enemies to encounter. Unfortunately, Outbreak: File #2 was far less successful than its predecessor, earning poor sales and weaker critic reviews. Regardless, many Resident Evil fans are still keeping their fingers crossed for an Outbreak File #3 game, as unlikely as it may seem.
After years of trying to translate the Resident Evil experience to a light gun shooter, Capcom finally found success with 2007’s Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. The motion controls afforded by the Nintendo Wii console proved to be a big help, as it made The Umbrella Chronicles far more accessible than previous light gun games. It meant that the game didn’t have to be saddled with a weird control scheme that took standard controllers into account, and it meant that players didn’t have to buy a light gun accessory to play – all they needed was their Wii remote.
The Umbrella Chronicles is also one of the first spin-off games to expand on the franchise’s lore in a meaningful way. It is essentially a retread of Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil 1, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, focusing on how Albert Wesker has played a major role in various events throughout the franchise. It also shows how Wesker managed to survive the mansion explosion from the first Resident Evil game, and provides further information on what happened to the Umbrella Corporation in the events prior to Resident Evil 4.
Capcom continued its light gun Resident Evil success by producing a direct sequel to The Umbrella Chronicles, The Darkside Chronicles. The Darkside Chronicles features the Resident Evil games ignored by Umbrella Chronicles, showcasing the events of Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica, along with some original story content. It was not quite as well-received as its predecessor, but still serves as a solid light gun Resident Evil game far superior to the company’s previous efforts.
Capcom was an early supporter of the Nintendo 3DS handheld, releasing Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D for the system in the summer after its release. The Mercenaries 3D was essentially just the Mercenaries game modes from Resident Evil 4 and 5 mixed together, with some extra content to make it more worthwhile as a standalone game. However, many couldn’t shake the feeling that this spin-off was really just Capcom re-packaging side content from main series Resident Evil games, and so it’s often looked at another misstep in the company’s efforts to create Resident Evil spin-off games.
While many 3DS survival-horror fans weren’t thrilled with Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Capcom’s next attempt a Resident Evil 3DS game was much better-received. Resident Evil: Revelations had more horror elements than other recent Resident Evil games, and saw the return of fan favorite characters like Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. A full-fledged Resident Evil experience on the 3DS, Revelations was later ported to other platforms as well. Quite possibly the best Resident Evil spin-off game released so far, Resident Evil: Revelations has set the bar high.
But in the same year Capcom released the acclaimed Resident Evil: Revelations, it also released Operation Raccoon City. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a non-canon third-person shooter set in the titular Raccoon City. It sold well but was panned by critics and fans alike, earning some of the lowest scores out of any game in the Resident Evil franchise to date.
After the success of Resident Evil: Revelations, Capcom moved forward with a follow-up spin-off game, but decided to shake things up by releasing it as an episodic title instead. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 was notable for bringing Barry Burton back in the fold after the character was missing for years, and for continuing the first Revelations‘ horror focus. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 also has co-op support, allowing two players to experience the game together.
Undeterred by the poor reaction to Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Capcom decided to try its hand at another Resident Evil multiplayer shooter game. Umbrella Corps reviews were even more negative than those for Operation Raccoon City.
In 2020, Capcom technically released another Resident Evil spin-off game, but it’s only available as the multiplayer component for the Resident Evil 3 remake. Titled Resident Evil: Resistance, the game is an asymmetric multiplayer horror game where one team controls human survivors and another player can torment them by sending various Resident Evil monstrosities to impede their progress.
Later this year, Capcom plans to release another multiplayer Resident Evil game, with this one tied to Resident Evil Village. Called Resident Evil Re:Verse, this is a more traditional multiplayer shooter game, featuring iconic locations and characters from the Resident Evil franchise. It’s unclear if Capcom ever plans on giving these Resident Evil spin-off games standalone releases, so for now, players will have to stick to playing them as the multiplayer modes of main series Resident Evil games.