I spent the last week roaming the Spencer Mansion and I'm here to tell you not to sleep on the new GOG release of 1996's Resident Evil

Chris Redfield fights a zombie in 1996's Resident Evil.
(Image credit: Capcom)

As part of PC Gamer's eternal quest to provide you with the latest videogame news and most up-to-date information, I'm here to tell you that you really shouldn't sleep on Resident Evil 1 (1996). I know, I know, you're welcome. While you're here, be sure to check out Quake 3: Team Arena—the next great sequel in the popular Quake franchise—and "Pong". It's like tennis on your television screen!

To be more specific, I mean that I've found myself actually, truly impressed by RE1's first digital release over on GOG, and if you've not played the game for fear of some kind of incredibly janky and outdated experience, you should put those fears aside. In all the ways that matter, anyway. It is still a game from 1996, after all.

(Image credit: Capcom)

In a pattern of behaviour top psychologists are calling "strange and alarming," I've spent the last week-or-so bouncing between Cyberpunk 2077 and the original Resident Evil. That's in part because I'm an absolute sucker for the Spencer Mansion: I came late to the RE series and (the remaster of) the first game's Gamecube remake remains my favourite of the lot, but it's also because I'm genuinely astounded by how well the thing runs.

In my experience, GOG's work to get the old games it sells running on modern systems is never quite enough for me. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the effort—it's more than any other digital storefront tries to do—but I usually still have to do at least a bit of tweaking and modding myself to get the classics running at 100% on Windows 11. 

For instance, the original PC release of Metal Gear Solid still really wants you to install the fanmade MGSI Launcher to get a version that doesn't randomly forget your controller settings, and when I played the first Diablo last year I did it through DevilutionX rather than sticking with GOG's default version. CD Projekt's benchmark for its GOG releases tends to be "functional" rather than "smooth."

(Image credit: Capcom)

But I can't say the same for Resi. A few hours in and I think I'm actually going to beat this thing, and I've not done anything to the game besides install it. My Xbox One gamepad works flawlessly, all four polygons that make up Jill Valentine look pin-sharp using whatever "Improved DirectX game renderer" CDP stuck in there, and I can't find any fault with the best-in-class voice acting. The only issue I can spot is with the pre-rendered backgrounds: They are, ah, impressionistic at best on a modern 1440p monitor, but that never gets in the way of the game, and just because I'm not using any mods doesn't mean there aren't fan patches out there you can use to fix that stuff.

It all just works, for real, and while I originally grabbed the game expecting to put the Resident Evil Classic REbirth mod to use, I'm completely content to go through the rest of the game using the default settings, which it came with when I installed it through GOG Galaxy.

GOG Galaxy, meanwhile, still requires advance warning by post whenever I want to launch it, and regularly forgets who I am like some kind of dying aunt in my taskbar, so I guess you can't have everything.

(Image credit: Capcom)

So consider this a PSA if you're curious about returning to the classic Resi games, but don't want the faff that inevitably comes with booting anything before 2011-or-so on a modern PC: GOG really knocked this one out of the park. As someone passionate both about preserving golden oldies and playing games almost as ancient as I am while everyone else hacks away at something called "Shadow of the Erdtree," consider me very pleased indeed.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.