During the Sony press conference at this years E3 event the next game in the Resident Evil series was revealed and given an official trailer (seen below). Originally shown last year as a PlayStation VR (virtual reality) tech demo called “Kitchen”, this new game, titled Resident Evil 7 biohazard, is quite a departure from your typical Resident Evil game in best way possible. The game features a first person perspective, replacing the previously used third person perspective, and seeks to bring a new level of intensified fear to the series. In a recent post on the official PlayStation Blog, Resident Evil 7 biohazard is said to be “far more terrifying than anything that has come before it” as well as “the harrowing homecoming you’ve been waiting for.”
Of course, a horror story is only as frightening as its setting, and Resident Evil 7 pays tribute to the franchise’s origins on this front as well. Resident Evil 7 is set after the events of Resident Evil 6, taking place in modern day and revolving around a foreboding, derelict plantation mansion in rural America. Players must explore and survive the horrors within the mysterious, sprawling estate.
Resident Evil 7 biohazard is a game that will be compatible with the PlayStation VR headset (which is being released this Fall) but may also be played without the headset, making it a title that all horror fans can enjoy with or without the use of VR. The official release date as of right now is January 24, 2017. Luckily for people like me, a huge fan of the Resident Evil game series as well as a fan of the horror genre in general, Capcom offered a taste of the game for free to PlayStation Plus members directly after the E3 conference. A playable teaser called Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour is available for download right now on the PlayStation Store; I have had the chance to play it for myself and would love to share with you my initial impressions.
It’s a fairly short demo but it’s definitely long enough to hook you in, terrify you and make you want more. You begin by waking up in a room, being told that your goal is to escape the house you are in and then given free rein of the area to explore. The first thing I noticed was how amazing this game looks, sounds and feels. In the PlayStation Store, the demo is described as “a thrillingly immersive horror experience for the five senses”, and while I still can’t find a way to taste the game, I must say that this description is completely accurate. The details are astounding; seeing the dust settling on a worn out leather chair or the breeze blowing through an old cobweb blew me away due to how absolutely fantastic it all looks. Atmospheric effects such as lighting, sound and textures are top of the line, providing even more realism to this demo. The environment you find yourself in is derelict so you notice a lot of effects such as wallpaper peeling off the walls, dusty/dirty furniture and creaking floorboards; all of which are amplified by the graphics and audio quality, providing a general feeling of realism and fear. The general aesthetics of the environment paired with quality graphics and audio make the setting stressful and fear-inducing.
It seems as if Resident Evil 7 biohazard will still feature an inventory system similar to past games in the series. You seemingly will be able to assign certain items to each direction of the d-pad and the inventory appears to have limited space, forcing players to make choices about what to keep and what to throw away or possibly put into storage. Different items also take up different amounts of space in the inventory, a set of bolt cutters took up multiple slots while a key only took up one, which felt very familiar in regards to past Resident Evil games. That being said, after playing the demo I am under the impression that while the camera perspective has been changed and the horror factor amplified in comparison to previous Resident Evil titles, some of the basic fundamentals of the series have been kept, making this a truly “Resident Evil” experience.
While there is no combat in the demo, you can find an axe and press “R2” to attack. There is no one you can use it on in the demo but I assume that this is a hint that the full game will feature some form of combat. There was also a lack of definitive zombies in Beginning Hour. There is a creature that bears some resemblance to a zombie seen at one point in the demo, but I didn’t personally find it to be a definite zombie. However there are strong hints in both the trailer and the demo to ghosts, and some claim to have even seen ghosts in the demo, so it’s possible this game will have either a new type of zombie/creature that resembles a ghost or no zombies all together. It’s honestly too soon to tell.
After a bit of exploration and taking in the setting, you come across a video tape. When inserted into the VCR you, the player, are transported into the video, playing through what you are watching as opposed to simply watching the events transpire. I thought this feature was very cool, even if this is the only time we ever see it used. While playing through the video you see a few guys who are scoping out the house for a ghost hunting show, all of which appear to be killed in one way or another during the video.
Back in reality things start to heat up after playing through the video, as you turn around to see a daunting figure walk past the door and down the hallway next to the room you are in. At this point you have the information needed to find the key to the back door and leave the house, but the figure was headed towards the door which makes your trek that much more harrowing. Things seem fine up until you finally unlock the door and are greeted by a creepy voice behind you who laughs then says “welcome to the family” before knocking you out and ending the playable portion of the demo. At least that is how my first playthrough went. There are a handful of ways to reach a conclusion in Beginning Hour and after playing it multiple times it’s clear to me that not everyone’s experience will be same.
Overall, I was floored by this demo. I was worried about playing it to an extent because of how excited I am for this game. When it was announced at the Sony press conference I legitimately almost cried, I have been wanting for this announcement for a long time now and seeing that this awesomely terrifying game (Kitchen) was in fact the next Resident Evil title was overwhelming. I didn’t want to be let down in any way or have to admit to myself that this game wouldn’t be as good as I hoped, but this demo did nothing except solidify my excitement and make me crave more of Resident Evil 7 biohazard. As I said previously, the demo is short but it’s just enough to give you a taste without giving you too much. It hooks you in and leaves you wanting more, which is just what a demo such as this should do. I cannot wait for the full game to be released and am happily looking forward to January 24th, 2017.
*Note: All images above were taken from Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour by Kelly Flatley using the PS4’s share button.*