I vividly remember playing the first-ever Resident Evil game on the original PlayStation console. It was my first foray into survival horror, way before I played the original Silent Hill, sometime in the late 90s. I played the Director’s Cut edition. The first cut scene opened with a title card that read, “1998 – July, Racoon Forest.” The S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team (live actors, by the way!) had been sent there to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the Bravo Team. It was night—everything was dark, and the Alpha Team were attacked by seemingly rabid dogs in the middle of the forest (more like a field, really). A couple of the team members were mauled. What followed was a chase sequence through the forest (field), ending in the discovery of a dark and sinister-looking mansion, where they attempted to regroup and process what had just happened.
I was no stranger to horror movies (I had seen films like the Child’s Play trilogy, Children of the Corn, Friday the 13th, The Amityville Horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist, and The Night of the Living Dead when I was in elementary school, so my exposure to the horror genre was quite varied), but I remember thinking and feeling how intense that cut scene was for a video game. It set the mood of the entire experience so beautifully.
The remaining members of the Alpha team decided to split up eventually, and the game proper was under way (I picked the Jill Valentine scenario). I began to explore the mansion, all the while still creeped out by that intro, and I made my way into that now famous hallway just off the dining hall. I heard crude sound effects, which gave me the feeling it was the sound of something eating something and, dreading what was coming next, I made my way down the hallway, where I found my first ever zombie in my first ever zombie video game. It was eating something, alright, but the worst part was when it became aware that I was there. It stopped eating, letting its meal—a severed head with a half-eaten face—fall with a thud to the floor, and it reared its ugly head to face me.