The director of the scariest Resident Evil is leading Resident Evil 9, which is just about the best thing Capcom could've said

Baker family dinner Resident Evil 7
(Image credit: Capcom)

Resident Evil 7 messed me up in a way I wasn't prepared for, much in the same way the original Resident Evil 2 left lasting scars on my still-developing psyche after first experiencing it in 1998. It's a kind of fear that instills discomfort and disturbs me beyond the surface level where most horror games' thrills are only skin-deep. It's claustrophobic, unpredictable, and ruthlessly bleak. With Biohazard director Koshi Nakanishi confirmed to be leading Resident Evil 9, that's bad for my blood pressure – but scarily good news for the series' future.

It depends on the day, but generally I consider Resident Evil to be my favorite video game series ever. I have a profound and deeply seated love for these games (yes, even 5 and 6, admittedly to a lesser extent) stretching back to my early childhood and largely shaping my lifelong love of horror. That said, I enjoy every game in the series for different reasons: I play Resi 2 for the nostalgia and atmosphere, Resi 4 for the variety, and Resi 7 when I want to be liquidized into a puddle of terror. 

To be frank, I don't even really like playing Resident Evil 7, but for the sole reason that it's almost too scary, ironically making it one of the best horror games I've ever played and one of my least favorite to actually, well, play. I squirm just inserting the disc and watching the passage of logos and disclaimers tear away at the safety net between my world and the one I'm about to enter. 

It's that scary for me, and I attribute very little of that to the first-person perspective. It's the atmosphere, the unrelenting tension, the more relatable, relatively defenseless 'normal guy' protagonist, and the distinctly more grounded tone that makes it all feel so horrifyingly plausible. It's the story of an average Joe thrust into one of the worst nightmares you could conjure up, and you're in the driver's seat. Not a trained special agent with guns. Just you: Ethan Winters.

Substantially scary

Resident evil 7

(Image credit: Capcom)

This is why I'm both infinitely excited for and slightly trepidatious about Resident Evil 9. With Nakanishi at the helm, there's little reason to doubt Capcom is doubling down on pure horror after the relatively tame Resident Evil Village. Don't get me wrong, the most recent mainline installment is great fun, but for me it's decidedly an action-horror romp whose single moment of absolute terror – yes, the big baby – is over in a matter of minutes.

Although we know virtually nothing about Resident Evil 9 at this point except that it's officially in development with Nakanishi in the director's chair, there's nothing more Capcom needed to say to fully capture my attention. We don't know if we're getting more Ethan Winters, more Leon Kennedy as my colleague Jasmine is desperately hoping for, or another protagonist and setting altogether, but we can be pretty damn confident that Nakanishi is going to scare the ever-loving daylights out of us.

I'm not only saying this because of Nakanishi's involvement, although that is ample evidence enough; I'm also going off what little he said during the recent Capcom showcase that announced the news. "The general consensus from fans of the series was that a Resident Evil game is one that should scare the hell out of you," Nakanishi said. "That was the starting point for Resident Evil 7."

Resi 7

(Image credit: Capcom)

It's worth pointing out that Nakanishi's resume also includes directing credits on a duo of handheld Resident Evil titles: the so-so Mercenaries 3D and the pretty good Revelations, and the latter can be read as a handheld teaser of the director's prowess in crafting atmospheric tension and dread, particularly in the ingenious ship setting and horrific Scagdead encounter.

"It was really difficult to figure out what to do after [Resident Evil] 7," he continued, "But I found it, and to be honest, it feels substantial. I can't share any details just yet, but I hope you're excited for the day I can."

"Substantial," eh? As in, so substantially scary we'll never recover? Don't tempt me with a bad time. For my money, the only way Resident Evil 9 can top Resident Evil 7 in terms of fear factor is by toning down the high-powered guns and ammo that provide some relief from the suffocating tension in the back half of the game. It's nerve-wracking to even think of a survival horror game that's as stressful as the Baker family ranch for a sustained 10-12 hours instead of only a few, but if that's what Nakanishi is going for, toning down the action elements seems like an effective option.

Virtually evil

Resident Evil 7

(Image credit: Capcom)

Another truly panic-inducing possibility is the next Resident Evil game coming to PSVR 2. Look, if it isn't clear by now, I like horror things, but I spent precisely 90 seconds in the Baker house in PSVR and ripped that hunk of plastic off my head so fast I pulled my PS4 from its shelf in a dramatic rejection of bravery. The idea of immersing myself in a 360-degree world even more frightening than that is just, nuh uh, no thank you. But at the same time, yes please, because I hate myself.

I'm also getting ahead of myself. Again, we don't know anything about Resident Evil 9, and I have less confidence in this project's particular rumor mill than I do in Ethan Winters' ability to keep his limbs attached to his body. All I can confidently say is that it's likely going to sneak its way into my melatonin-induced nightmares to hang out with Jack Baker and the Lickers, and I couldn't be more thrilled to see what it looks like.

Resident Evil 9 is just one of many upcoming horror games I can't wait to play with the lights off.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.