It was one of the first games to be dubbed a "survival horror". Accordingly, Game Informer refers to "the original Resident Evil" as "one of the most important games of all time."
The PlayStation game was a best seller in North America. The game received positive reviews from critics. GameSpot praised the game, describing it as "one of those rare games that's almost as entertaining to watch as it is to play". On the other hand, Computer Gaming World gave a more mixed review for the PC version in explaining that they "tried to hate it with its graphic violence, rampant sexism, poor voice acting and use of every horror cliché however...it's actually fun." In total, according to Capcom's Investor Relations website, the original Resident Evil has sold 2,750,000 units. The Director's Cut version, including the Dual Shock edition, sold an additional 2.33 million copies. It was also a bestseller in the UK,
The GameCube remake of Resident Evil sold 1.35 million units in total. GameSpot said this about the REmake: "Capcom has nearly perfected its craft and created the best Resident Evil ever". IGN mentioned at the time that the remake was "the prettiest, most atmospheric and all-around scariest game we've ever played". Despite its success, the game has been criticized for its terrible dialogue and voice acting. All PlayStation and GameCube versions of the game have sold 6.43 million units in total as of September 2011.
The original game was put into the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008 for the "Worst Game Dialogue Ever".