I remember reading GameFan Magazine back in 1996 and seeing some of the very first images of Resident Evil for the PlayStation console. At the time, these images (that in our modern times would look like a blocky, pixilated mess) were simply astonishing. A horror game that took place in a mansion full of zombies was, to me, a totally unique concept. I had yet to see films such as Night of the Living Dead that were obvious inspirations for the game. Released in 1996, the first Resident Evil scared me like nothing had before. The tension of going around a corner and not knowing if I was going to run into a zombie or some other horrific undead creature kept me coming back for more. Since that time, Resident Evil has had its ups and downs. For example, Resident Evil 2, Code Veronica and Resident Evil 4 were true masterpieces. Resident Evil 3, 5 and especially 6 left much to be desired. In fact, Resident Evil 6 was so bad that many thought the series was done for. But this year at the annual E3 video game show Capcom unveiled Resident Evil 7 (RE7) with a playable demo (that can be downloaded on the PlayStation Network if you’re a PlayStation Plus member) and two trailers. What follows are my impressions of the demo and the trailer.
At first glance, RE7 resembles the cancelled Silent Hills project. It features a first person perspective that will have the option to use the upcoming PlayStation VR. The gameplay feels strong, with simple but very tight controls. I wandered around in a very dilapidated farmhouse, eventually discovering an old videotape. On the tape there were three men who were at the same house sometime earlier shooting a Ghost Hunters-like reality show. Through the hosts’ conversation I learned that the farmhouse was owned by two bankers who enjoyed country living and that they had a son named Lucas who was apparently a “bad seed”. Taking control of the cameraman who was on the videotape, my view was now through the somewhat grainy camera. I headed inside the house but not before spotting a ghost for a brief second. This is a first for Resident Evil, a game that has typically only dealt with viral created zombies. Once inside, I began to look around the familiar (yet somewhat different) surroundings. One of the hosts suddenly disappears. The other host of the show finds a ladder that leads down into a dark basement. With his encouragement to go first, I made my way down into the black hole where I met my demise. Thus ended the videotape. Back in the present day, I again made my way through the roach infested house. I found a dead crow stuffed in a microwave and putrid leftovers that were seemingly discarded years before. I turned around and was suddenly punched by a bearded man who said calmly “welcome to the family, son”. Fade to black.
I tried the demo again, eventually discovering an axe. Like its predecessors, the finished game will feature an array of weapons suited to survivalist horror, though game enthusiasts must wait for the final product to discover what the extended arsenal will be, melee or otherwise. Even with the axe in hand, I was repeatedly knocked out by the bearded redneck. I can’t help but wonder what other types of weapons the final game will have. Will there be guns as in previous Resident Evil games? What about medicinal herbs? Will the game even feature zombies as main enemies or are we to fear the vengeful spirits of the undead?
Though the RE7 demo has raised lots of questions, there a few things we do know about the upcoming release. First, the game will launch January 24 2017 on the PlayStation 4, PC and XBox One. Capcom has also confirmed that the final RE7 release won’t take place in just the farmhouse that was played in the demo. In fact, they’ve stated that the game will take place in a large mansion in rural America sometime after the events of Resident Evil 6. Last but not least, we now know that the character you play in the demo will not be the main character of RE7. The demo will in fact serve as a prologue to the final game.
Whether or not RE7 will in fact resurrect the horror franchise remains to be seen. But I for one am very excited to see more in the coming months as we approach release. Please stay tuned for SQ for all the latest!