The premise of the Resident Evil franchise is simple on the outside. The basis of the Games lies in the events that took place in the Arklay Mountains in June 1998. You start off with a simple training mission that went wrong. The STARS Alpha team, a special operations team from the Raccoon City Police Department, is dispatched to investigate the missing Bravo team at the Spencer Estate, a mansion owned by the founder of a pharmaceutical company called Umbrella. What happened in this mansion later resulted in sequels beyond the extended sphere of influence of the Umbrella Corporation.
The real horror of Resident Evil, buried deep under the corpses of Umbrella workers and civilians turned into carnivorous zombies, lies in the parallels the games make to real-life events. After all, zombies are completely fictional, but government-backed scientific departments willing to experiment with unwilling employees or citizens are not. And this is where Resident Evils horror is most effective and arguably most tangible. The series draws on concepts like global capitalism and eugenics to create something that feels somehow anchored in our reality.
The term “eugenics” originally minted by Sir Francis Galton in 1883
Since the first Resident Evil game was released in 1996, more than a handful of sequels and spin-off titles have been released in association with transmedia material. This included novels, surviving brochures, and even the closer CGI films that further extrapolated the Umbrella Corporation’s origins and its connection with the government. In fact, the series has created a metaphorical mansion on the humble foundations of the franchise, where the various plots are grouped into 10 main games (yes, Resident Evil Code: Veronica is a main game). This has created an overarching narrative that focuses on horror resulting from unethical experimentation fueled by global capitalism, with the Umbrella Corporation being the series’ main antagonist.
Resident Evil 3 showed that eugenics was the main motivation for founding Umbrella. Then later titles like Resident Evil 0 provided further insight into the company’s motivations before the T-Virus spread into a global outbreak. This further tradition concerned the establishment of the company itself and dealt with the development of the Progenitor virus, which was ultimately to be used in the eugenics project entitled Project W or in the Wesker Plan. Apparently Umbrella was founded only to raise funds for this project. The main narrative on this point dealt with conspiracies and government agreements in connection with the project that would later work out the background for the serial antagonist Albert Wesker. Albert Wesker’s pale skin and blonde hair design, evoking the aesthetics of the Nazi ideal of the superman, effectively conveys the theme that rem ains at the core of the franchise. Wesker is the physical embodiment of the eugenics project founded by company founder Oswell E. Spencer.
Throughout Resident Evil’s history, comments have been varied, either through documents found in the games themselves or through external materials such as Resident Evil’s “Perfect Guides,” which were published exclusively for the Japanese audience. in the Resident Evil 5The player is made aware of Spencer’s intention to create Umbrella and the subsequent virus created under the company’s name. It is clearly set out in a cutscene between the founder and Albert Wesker in which Spencer reveals that Wesker was part of an experiment to effectively find a suitable successor to usher in a new era of superhuman beings. At the end of the game, the player confronts Wesker in a tense battle in which, if it lasts long enough, he begins to share his plan.
Wesker’s monologue in RE5 includes common Social darwinist Topics of conversation from Friedrich Nietzsche Superman theorywhich fully demonstrates the visual metaphor and embodies Wesker. While Nietzche himself did not present his theory to the NSDAP because he died a few years before the party was founded, his beliefs were communicated to the party through his sister. This idea of Übermensch was then used for reinforcement white supremacy as envisaged by the NSDAP. This monologue from Wesker, coupled with earlier storylines found in the series, creates a sense of horror that transcends the visual and leads to something truly unsettling and deeply political.
Resident Evil 6 goes a step further and claims with clarity that the U.S. government was involved in the various resurrections of Umbrella throughout the series – something that has remained a constant plot point since its first entry in the game. One of the main opponents of this post is Derek C. Simmons, who served as national security adviser to the show’s then-president. Simmons was responsible for the decision to effectively destroy Raccoon City using thermobaric missiles, and erased much of the evidence linking Umbrella to the United States government. Resident Evil 6
[Warning: The links in the next two paragraphs describe real-life examples of government-sanctioned torture.]
Something similar has happened in the real world when exchanging information. For example, Operation paper clip involved US intelligence agencies hiring Nazi scientists and personnel in support of military efforts; Information about these practices did not emerge until 50 years later released CIA documents.
During Imperial Japan’s colonial rule over Asia, Unit 731 was established with the express intention of creating biological warfare weapons for the Japanese government. The unit’s official title, also known as “Epidemic Prevention and Water Treatment Department of the Kwantung Army“Effectively masked what was developing under the unit. This included the possible development of “plague bombs” that were then dropped on Chinese citizens to see if these inventions could be used to trigger outbreaks. In 1995 much of what was developed by this unit – whether successfully or not – was brought to light in a project Interview published by the New York Times The article also revealed that most of this information was largely hidden from both the unit itself and the Japanese Empire, due to an exchange of information with the U.S. government in which some senior members of Unit 731 went away without affecting the atrocities committed.
resident Evil Not necessarily inspired by these events, but the games’ portrayal of the massive Umbrella corporation and its willingness to test its employees and citizens seem a disturbing parallel. We see this in a quote from the aforementioned interview with a member of Unit 731, in which a former scientist states that experiments on children were not excluded as long as their parents were believed to be spies. Similar points of action regarding unethical testing that effectively crosses the line into war crimes have emerged Resident Evil 5with Umbrella (which would later be effectively reborn under Tricell and other pharmaceutical or government-sponsored organizations) using Africa as a testing ground to advance its research, the real pharmaceutical organizations have done in the past.
Newer Resident Evil games haven’t included these themes as explicitly. Resident Evil 7 tried to touch her through the creation of the better known bio-weapon Evelyn and a vague connection to Umbrella through the reveal of Blue umbrellaParticipation in the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA). However, none of these things are materially elaborated or expanded.
While Resident Evil 7 was missing that specific line of comments that would otherwise have been at the center of the franchise, Resident Evil Village seems interested in taking it up again, at least in some ways. How Resident Evil Village When the player finishes they learn about the Hound Wolf Squad, a rogue unit within the BSAA, and their involvement in the events of the game. Chris Redfield, the mainstay of the series, is part of this rogue unit that learns that the BSAA’s main unit is now sending BOWs (or bio-organic weapons) to effectively eliminate any remaining biohazards. in the Resident Evil 5Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine had learned of corruption within the BSAA, with Tricell being a major donor and supporter of the anti-bioterrorism unit. In other Resident Evil games since then RE5That storyline had been touched lightly, but nothing had come of it – until Village.
The Resident Evil franchise has the potential to revert to its previous, longstanding line of commentary and, with it, a horror that many are already seeing in our present day. While Albert Wesker is dead and buried and with him Spencer’s eugenics-driven dream of a “new age” of humanity, Resident Evil Village picks up on a storyline that has so far been ignored in relation to the BSAA and its possible ulterior motives. The BSAA’s claim to deploy BOWs with the potential of Blue Umbrella’s research is reminiscent of the first game that had already implicated Umbrella’s association with the government and the development of bio-weapons. This storyline also has the potential to expand on something that has already been woven into the series’ narrative: criticism of the military state of emergency, which is deeply intertwined with concepts such as Imperialism used by various standing militariesand, above all, these groups help those with the most money or the greatest political power.
Resident Evil is known for its usual horror elements – dimly lit hallways, hordes of the undead – but what really makes it a classic is its ever-evolving narrative that reflects the fears in our modern society: eugenics, white supremacy, military industrial complex , and capitalism. All of these concepts merge into one overarching narrative that is far more terrifying than zombies and cheap jump scares. It remains effective even after almost three decades.