The history of video games is filled with brief eras of “clone” titles. In the early ’90s, there were various “Doom clones” that are now known as revolutionary first-person shooters. In the ’80s, Dragon Questcloneseventually contributed to the global rise of the JRPG genre.
Even now, you still have incredible games trying to free themselves of the “Dark Souls clone” label. Yet, there are few clones that have historically received less respect than resident Evilclones.
Even though it borrowed quite a few ideas from titles that came before (most notably sweet HomeandAlone in the Dark), 1996’sResident Evilreally did change the horror gaming landscape pretty much overnight. Naturally, Resident Evil‘s success led to a number of similar titles that borrowed some of that game’s best ideas.
While we eventually began referring to such games as survival horror titles rather than simple clones, it seems like there’s always been an unusual amount of disdain for some of those games that followed closest resident Evil‘s footsteps. Perhaps there was a time when the market was flooded with such games for a little too long, but it’s a lot easier to appreciate those same games these days when we’re starved for such titles. Besides, a lot of those games were actually pretty great (or at least interesting) in their own right.
As always, let’s look at a few rules used to assemble this list before we dive into the games themselves.
- A game doesn’t need to be an exact copy of Resident Evil to be considered a clone for the purposes of this list. Any title that featured a combination of trademark Resident Evil elements (such as tank controls and fixed camera perspectives, etc.) was likely in consideration.
- This list includes both Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4 clones.
- Finally, the use of the word “clone” isn’t meant to be derogatory. The point of this article is to make the argument that these so-called clones deserve a legacy of their own.
With that out of the way, let’s hop into the lab and dissect some of the greatest resident Evilclones you probably never played.
15. Countdown: Vampires
I’ll be real honest with you.
Countdown: Vampires are not a good game in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, it s actually an incredibly bad game in most respects. Its terrible controls and often wonky camera system make the game s already questionable action and puzzle sequences even more of a chore. This game s acting and writing also make the PS1 version of resident Evillook like Dead Redemption 2.
14. Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn (aka Chase the Express)
However, Countdown: Vampiresreally is one of those rare so bad, they’re good video games. If you can get past this title s more frustrating gameplay elements, you’ll find an amusing piece of B-grade entertainment that will leave you wondering how this one possibly got made. This game just perfectly encapsulates the lovable lows of its era of survival horror titles.
Covert Opsis a pure action title rather than a horror game, which already makes it a fringe candidate for this list. However, it s impossible to deny that this game was clearly influenced by resident Evil. The fixed cameras, the pre-rendered environments, the controls, the pacing it s all there. More importantly, this game actually features some truly fascinating concepts that other games honestly should have borrowed.
Covert Opssees you infiltrate a hijacked train in order to stop a group of terrorists. The entire game takes place on that train, which, despite all the backtracking that premise requires, is really the perfect set-up for a ’90s action adventure. More importantly, this game’s espionage puzzle sequences make you feel like so much more than a hired gun. It turns out that resident Evil-like gameplay goes surprisingly well with an admission Impossible-like premise.
Nocturne was actually treated as a pretty big deal in the months leading up to its much-hyped October 1999 release date. The game s advanced graphics (which are honestly pretty impressive to this day) were touted as the future of the medium, whileNocturne‘s secret supernatural detectives’ premise intrigued-Filesfans everywhere. Sadly, this game s control and camera problems (as well as its absurd system requirements) spoiled some of that hype and contributed to the game’s decidedly mixed reception.
Legitimate issues aside, Nocturnereally is an unsung gem of the genre. Now that we all own computers that can run this game as it was meant to be run, it s much easier to appreciate this title s incredible gothic environments, fantastic story beats, and memorable scares. This is a great game to lose yourself in when for those times when you just want to be wrapped in a loving world of horror.
The incredible success of FromSoftware s Soulsborne games has inspired many gamers to revisit that studio s library. Those who venture into that developer s history will numerous games that were certainly rough but benefited from some truly fascinating ideas. Kuonmay just is the ultimate example of FromSoftware’s history of almost landing that big swing.\
11. Blue Stinger
Set in Japan s Heian period, Kuonsees you play as three protagonists tasked with navigating a massive manner. This game suffers from some of the most frustrating controls and puzzles you’ll find in a resident Evilclone, but I don t know if I’ve ever played a horror game that handles the Japanese ghost story aesthetic quite as well as this one. This game is truly terrifying in unique and often subtle ways. It s a shame that it s also one of the rarest PS2 games in existence.
Blue Stingeris certainly one of the more shameless presidents Evilclones out there. Hell, this title s dinosaur-driven plot and action even rip off another resident Evilclone, Dino Crisis. However, before you banishBlue Stingerto Dinosaur Island (the actual name of a location in this game), it s worth paying some respect to this title s best ideas and technical innovations.
10. Curse: The Eye of Isis
Actually, Blue Stinger’s fully-rendered 3D environments were exactly the kind of technical innovation survival horror games needed at the start of the Dreamcast generation of gaming hardware.
Granted, this game s environments looked bad, but the freedom they offered allowedBlue Stingers, and developers, to play with different kinds of puzzles and more free-form action sequences. The quality of this game s voice acting also has to be heard to be believed.
This game flew way under the radar when it was released in 2003, and I can honestly see why. Not only was Resident Evilclones generally less popular at that time, but this game s bugs and weirdly specific retro adventure theme made it a pretty tough sell.
Yet, Cursemight is the easiest recommendation on this entire list. Not only is the game available on Steam in a slightly upgraded form, but curses story and settings are also sure to please fans of games like eternal Darknessor even the Indiana Jones movies.
Imagine if someone converted a point-and-click adventure game into a resident Evil-like survival horror title, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this one offers. It s a shame that old-school-minded survival horror games likeCursewould soon fall out of favor because this game showed that the resident Evilclone concept still had a lot of creative life left in it.
Supermassive Game’s recent productions (most notably, Until DawnandThe Quarry) rightfully receive credit for paying homage to a variety of classic horror cliches, but they certainly were the first games to utilize that approach. Actually, I feel likeObscurewould have been a huge horror hit if it had only been released in a slightly more modern era.
8. The Ring: Terror’s Realm
Obscurecasts you as five high school students who happen to represent some of the horror s most popular cliches. In a brilliant mechanical twist, though, each of those cliches comes with certain abilities unique to those characters. For instance, the nerd offers tips on puzzles while the stoner knows how to break into rooms.
Surviving in this survival horror title requires you to utilize all of those characters’ abilities to overcome various puzzles and combat challenges. It s an inspired concept that makes the most out of those resident Eviltropes without ever being entirely beholden to them.
Strangely enough, this game was actually based on the novels that inspiredRinguandThe Ring rather than the movies themselves. To be more accurate, it s a very loose adaptation of those novels that make every concession required to squeeze those stories’ core concepts into a fairly formulaic 2000 survival horror game.
7. The X-Files: Resist Or Serve
What ultimately saves this game (at least to some degree) is its WTF. storytelling. It s a surprisingly campy horror game that tries to balance inexplicable plot points, characters, and moments with the occasional moment of true terror. I don t even know if the people who made this game would call it good but there is something charming about how painfully retro the whole thing is.
There s nothing more in the 90s than an X-Files video game that copies most of resident Evil’s revolutionary survival horror concepts. That s why it s so strange that resist or Servewas actually released in 2004. Indeed, this game s late release date may have been a big part of the reason why it debuted to a resounding meh from critics and fans.
Years later, though, it s easy to appreciate what this game was going for. ItsveryRE-like gameplay may have been seen as tired in 2004, but there s a charm to those classic genre concepts that are so much easier to appreciate today.
Similarly, the game s story is sometimes rough (the plot was advertised as three lost episodes from the show s equally uneven seventh season), but that episodic storytelling really lets you buy into the idea of playing through the beloved show. This game was just a couple of tweaks away from greatness.
Carriers are perhaps best known for being one of the earliest truly 3D survival horror games that did t look like scalding hot garbage. However, I d argue that this game deserves to be remembered as much more than a technological novelty.
5. Martian Gothic: Unification
At the very least, Carriers is a solid survival horror game that is very much representative of a beloved era for that genre. However, Carrier really distinguishes itself through its surprisingly complicated geopolitical plot and advanced targeting system that really feels like an inspiration for dead Space’s necromorph direction action.
While this game s rough edges prove to be a little too hard to ignore, Carriers is another example of why the Dreamcast era of survival horror games did last nearly long enough.
This one actually just missed our list of the best sci-fi horror games ever made. In fact, this is one of those games that I tend to believe was only ignored because of the stigma surrounding resident Evil-like survival horror games that were starting to take root by late 2000.
Martian Gothicsees players visit a space station that has mysteriously gone radio silent. Try not to be surprised, but it turns out that something has gone terribly wrong. Familiar setup aside, Martian Gothicreally makes a name for itself via its emphasis on survival mechanics.
Everything from your save slots to your inventory spaces is severely limited in this game, which is bad news considering that many of Martina’s Gothic enemies can t be put down for good. There s an almost Metroidvania-like quality to this game s structure, puzzles, and atmosphere that will leave you wondering why we’re not all singing this game s praises to this day.
By the early 2000s, survival horror developers were looking for gimmicks that would help their games stand out in a suddenly congested genre. WhileExterminationfeatures such a gimmick (acting-like infection system that forces you to monitor your protagonists’ health at all times), this title s true calling card is its commitment to the fundamentals of the genre.
3. Deep Fear
Nothing comes easy extermination. Defeating even basic enemies requires an amount of ammunition you likely won’t regularly have access to while managing your infection rate soon proves to be a separate game in and of itself. You soon realize that your best bet is often to just run away. While that lack of non-stop action could have been boring, Exterminationis anything but. This game is a consistently thrilling reminder of how much fun it is to survive a situation that seems impossible.
Generally speaking, it was easy being a Sega Saturn game. It certainly was easy being a Sega Saturn game released near the end of that console s lifespan, and itreallywasn t easy being a Sega Saturn game released near the end of that console s lifespan that never even made it to North America. Well, Deep Fearran into all of those obstacles. Had it not, it would surely be remembered as one of the absolute best survival horror games of the mid- 90s.
Deep Fear’s underwater setting and oxygen-focused survival mechanics give it that little special something that all resident Evilclones needed. Yet, the thing that really makes this game great is its slightly more active style of survival horror gameplay.
Combat is far more fluid in this game than in early games, and you’re able to perform basic functions so much more quickly thanks to Saturn s extra interface buttons. This is just an exceptional example of refined survival horror gameplay that still retains the genre s tensest elements. It should have been the start of a great franchise.
I genuinely think it s impossible for any survival horror fan to playGaleriansand not wonder why this 1999/2000 title has yet to receive a remaster, remake, or sequel. After all, how can t you love a president Evil-style survival horror game that exchanges guns and explosives for psychic powers?
1. Cold Fear
Galeriansuse of psychic powers may be the best example of that concept I ve seen in a game. Such powerful abilities could remove the tension from many horror titles (see Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood), but the decision to make those abilities both limited and potentially fatal to the player makesGalerianstruly special.
That risk/reward system makes combat inGaleriansequally thrilling and terrifying, while the game s greatest scares and most disturbing imagery are guaranteed to haunt your mind. Many of us took this game for granted at a time when it was far too easy to do so.
You’ll undoubtedly notice that most of the games on this list are resident Evilclones rather than resident Evil 4clones. That s partially because there are so many clones once upon a time and partially because so many 4clones are either famous in their own right (Dead Space) or not really worth discussing. Actually, I’ve never been entirely sure why everyone who knows and loves 4doesn t also know just how great 2005 sCold Fear really is.
Indeed, it feels odd calling cold Fear a clone given that it was released just a couple of months afterResident Evil 4(despite the obvious similarities between the two). For that matter, it feels odd calling cold Fear a clone at all given that the game features certain ideas that I’ve seen properly replicated in any other survival horror title.
From the way you have to constantly manage your character s balance as they try to cross a ship stuck in troubled waters to the fact that you can t carry more ammo than you can load in your gun, Cold Fearis brimming with incredible ideas that fit the genre like a glove.
Nearly every aspect of this game just works. It may not be the scariest game on this list, but it is arguably the most complete. Do yourself a favor and play this on as soon as possible if you’ve never had the pleasure.