Resident Evil (バイオハザード, spelled Baiohazādo or simply Biohazard in Japan) is a survival horror game by Capcom and is the first game in the Resident Evil series. It was originally released in 1996 for the PlayStation and has been subsequently ported to the Sega Saturn and PC, then re-released twice on the PlayStation in the form of a Director's Cut. A Game Boy Color version of Resident Evil was planned for release in 1999, but was later canceled by Capcom, citing that the port was of poor quality. Capcom later released a new game in the series for the platform titled Resident Evil Gaiden. In 2002, a remake of the game was released for the Nintendo GameCube featuring new graphics and voice acting among other significant changes. A Nintendo DS port of the original, with added modes and the subtitle Deadly Silence, was released in early 2006.
While not the first survival horror game, its success propelled the genre to new heights of popularity and was the first game to coin the term.
Resident Evil gives players a choice between two playable characters, S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team members Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. The differences between both characters are more than superficial, with differences in abilities, items and even supporting characters, resulting in a slightly different scenario for both protagonists. Later Resident Evil titles would often follow this tradition of including a male and female lead, although in some, they aren't both available at the start of the game (i.e. CODE: Veronica). Notably, Resident Evil Zero has players control both protagonists simultaneously.
Chris Redfield - One of the protagonists of the game. Chris is much stronger and faster than Jill, making him more resistant to enemy attacks and have more possibilities to avoid them. Also having greater accuracy it is easier to get a critical hit with him (even for new players), using less rounds. But to compensate for this strength, his scenario is made more problematic, especially for the inexperienced. He can only carry six items and starts with only a knife. To make things worse he needs small keys (called old keys in the REmake) to unlock places where Jill can simply use her lockpick. This drawback is slightly compensated by the fact that Chris starts his quest with a lighter, which however is not very useful compared with Jill's lockpick. Chris' supporting character is Rebecca. She will not rescue him as much as Barry would for Jill, but she can heal all of Chris' wounds at certain stages of the game. Chris also finds the flamethrower, a weapon exclusive to his scenario.
Jill Valentine - One of the protagonists of the game. Jill's scenario is the simpler of the two, as she has a higher carrying capacity (eight items simultaneously, as opposed to Chris' six) and has a lockpick that serves as a substitute for the small keys in Chris' scenario (as well as the Sword Key in the original game). Jill's supporting character is Barry. He wields a powerful .357 Magnum Colt Python and is more helpful than Chris' Rebecca, as he eliminates the need for the broken shotgun (as long as the player hasn't picked up the Armor Key), and assists in fighting several of the bosses. Jill also gets to use a grenade launcher, a weapon exclusive to her scenario and capable of firing several types of rounds. However, these advantages are offset by the fact that she is more vulnerable to enemy attacks than Chris, is less likely to escape from them, and less likely to make a critical shot.
The character who is not chosen becomes a prisoner of Wesker until the end of the game. In order to unlock the passage leading to the cell, three MO disks must be collected by the player and then inserted into terminals (which are apparently modeled off of GameCubes in the REmake) located throughout the lab. The cell's door can only be unlocked by activating the self-destruct mechanism or by using Wesker's Master Key. Deciding whether to free them or not affects several of the ending cut-scenes.
Barry Burton - A S.T.A.R.S. member who assists Jill in her search. Barry is blackmailed into murder and the destruction of evidence by the traitorous S.T.A.R.S. leader, Albert Wesker. During Chris' storyline, Barry goes missing after the opening cutscene, with Wesker presuming him to be dead, but it's never proven. Barry is not seen or mentioned again after that.
Brad Vickers - Alpha team's Pilot. Brad was a coward who left his teammates behind after Frost's death. He then later assists the player by giving them a Rocket Launcher to kill the Tyrant.
Joseph Frost - Another member of Alpha team. Joseph was attacked and eaten alive by a pack of Cerberus just outside the mansion.
Rebecca Chambers - A S.T.A.R.S. member who assists Chris in his search. Rebecca is one of the survivors of the incident, whose disappearance prompted Alpha team's investigation, and is currently the only one alive from the Bravo team. She is playable in Chris' scenario twice at the most. Rebecca is not seen or mentioned in Jill's storyline.
Richard Aiken - A Bravo team member who was bitten and injected with venom by the Yawn. Aiken dies before the serum has a chance to save him. In the GameCube REmake, Richard lives if you give him the serum in time, but is then killed either by the Yawn or the Neptune. When he dies in either of these scenes, you acquire the Assault Shotgun from him, a more powerful shotgun with a higher rate of fire and capacity.
Forest Speyer - Another member of Bravo team. Forest was killed by a flock of crows on the balcony of the mansion. In Resident Evil: Director's Cut and in the REmake, he is revived as a zombie.
Kenneth J. Sullivan - Another Bravo team member. Kenneth was eaten and decapitated by a Zombie in a hallway after straying off from the dining room moments before Alpha team found him. In the REmake, the player finds a film on his dead body which shows his last moments.
Enrico Marini - Captain of the Bravo team. Enrico discovers that a member of Alpha team is a traitor, but is assassinated before confirming it to the player.
Most of the other members of S.T.A.R.S. make minor appearances throughout the games, usually as victims of the monsters. In later versions, Forest appears as re-animated corpse, while Richard can survive if given the serum within a certain amount of time.
A novelization of the game titled Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy Side A, was written by author Stephani Danelle Perry as the first book in her series of Resident Evil novels. The novel combines both Jill and Chris' scenarios into one narrative and features all five of the main characters (including Barry and Rebecca).
The book also takes liberty with the original source materials; the most notable difference being the inclusion of an original character named Trent, an insider from Umbrella who provides Jill with information about the Mansion prior to the events of the mansion incident. Since the book was written a few years before the GameCube remake, the novelization omits the presence of Lisa Trevor in the mansion. However, the book does allude to the original version of George Trevor's Journal from The True Story Behind Biohazard, as well as the short story it contained Biohazard: The Beginning, which involved the disappearance of Chris' friend, Billy Rabitson. Another notable difference in the novels is moving the location of Raccoon City from the Midwest to Pennsylvania, apparently about an hour's drive from New York.