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November 2018

Resident Evil 7

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Jan. 24, 2017


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Resident Evil 7'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 2, 2016 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Resident Evil 7 is the latest game in the series, and is focused on immersive horror with the main concept building upon the series' roots of fear, exploration and tense atmosphere.

Pre-order Resident Evil VII

One of the biggest surprises at the Sony press conference was the reveal of Resident Evil 7. It wasn't a surprise that the long-running franchise had a new entry but rather the sheer change in tone from the prior games. Resident Evil 6 was about suplexing monsters, explosions and cheesy one-liners. Resident Evil 7 looks to be going back to its horror roots, with spooky monsters and a haunted house — and not a single piledriver to be seen. We got some hands-on time with the VR version at E3 2016, and the result was as interesting as it was spooky.

In the Resident Evil 7 demo, you're thrust into the shoes of an unknown character who wakes up inside a dilapidated house. There's no clue how they got there and no clue how to escape, but there's an ominous note that warns of greater danger ahead. Slowly, we made our way out of the room, hearing spooky creaks and strange sounds throughout the house. A bit of exploration guided us to some interesting clues, including the severed finger of a mannequin and a hidden switch that seemed to have no real purpose at first blush. Eventually, we found the front door, which was locked and surrounded by rotting carcasses, one of which had a bolt cutter stuck inside. Taking the bolt cutter allowed us to open a nearby locked cabinet and retrieve a video tape.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the demo came when we stuck the video tape into the tape player. This triggered a flashback to the cameraman, someone who came to the same house as part of a reality show. We had complete control over the cameraman and watched the unfortunate fate that awaited him and his companions. This wasn't just a cut scene; we had complete control over the cameraman and could explore the house. This didn't change much about the game, but we were able to discover clues that we could use in the future. In addition, there was a hidden secret that we could trigger that also seemed to unlock something back in the real world. Features like this might be a significant part of the final game, allowing for unusual multi-timeline puzzles.

The Resident Evil 7 demo took plenty of inspiration from recent horror games, especially those in the Amnesia or Outlast vein. Environmental noise and trickery were plentiful. When I went upstairs, I discovered a group of mannequins. The moment I glanced away and turned back, they'd moved. When I did it again, they'd moved again. Small noises, banging doors and visions just out of the corner of your eye all played a part in setting a creepy tone. The demo ended with a sudden and unexpected attack, but it was entirely non-interactive. With the VR helmet on, it was a tremendously spooky experience nonetheless. The game was good about avoiding jump scares — though it had a few — and instead focused on providing an oppressive atmosphere.

We were warned not to take the demo at face value as a perfect representation of the final gameplay. According to our presenter, the game will feature combat in the final version, and Capcom is aware that fight is as important as flight to Resident Evil fans. Understandably, they were rather mum on what the final game entails, but a few bits are obvious. The entire game will have seamless transition from VR and non-VR gameplay, with both options being entirely viable. The game will be entirely first-person to help with the VR immersion and the overall atmosphere. Likewise, the title will break the recent Resident Evil streak of having a partner character along for the ride. There won't be any multiplayer or cooperative elements, so it's focused on the single-player experience.

Resident Evil 7 is a tantalizing look into the future of the series. The demo doesn't give us a feel for how the final game will play, but the tone and atmosphere are impressive. It feels more like "The Blair Witch Project" than "Dawn of the Dead," and it's a rather radical departure from the franchise even as it goes back to its horror roots. Resident Evil isn't afraid of shakeups in the franchise, and frequently, they've led to big improvements. Hopefully we'll see more about Resident Evil 7 in the upcoming months.

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