This past E3 Sony delivered a knock out presentation with big game reveals and surprises that had the entire gaming industry talking. Perhaps the biggest of them was the shocking reveal of Resident Evil 7. With a brand new look, gameplay focus and storyline that breaks away from series conventions, Resident Evil 7 drew a blood-soaked line in the sand which seemed to split the fan base in half. Many blasted the seemingly PT inspired gameplay and hillbilly atmosphere as the final nail in the coffin of the fledgling franchise, while others (like myself) believe this bold new direction is the only thing that can save Capcom’s flagship title from itself. I’d like to take a few moments to tell you why I believe Resident Evil 7 is the perfect way to bring this series back from the dead.
GRAPHICS: First I want to call out the games engine. After playing the First Hour demo, it was impossible not to draw parallels to PT. Not just because of the first person perspective or the scares which come from that point of view, but the graphic fidelity. Creating a world of believable surroundings and photo realistic dread creates a world that is actually something to be scared of. The days of underground labs and giant mutant scorpion creatures are over. Capcom has instead created a grimy and all-too-real playground for you to run for your life. This realism over bio-mutants and rocket launchers take on RE makes it much easier to actually be scared again.
PACING: While I haven’t seen any of the final game’s campaign, both the First Hour and Lantern demo seem to revel in the atmospheric build up of fear. It is my opinion that any good horror story rests on the pace the director sets. One great example of this is the Slender series of games, where the slow build of danger and dread sets your heart racing and reaches fever pitch towards the end. Resident Evil games typically start with a set piece of scares but ultimately build towards a “gun your way out” finale… Usually with a time bomb for some reason. If Capcom can level the playing field more and control the roll-out of scares, they have the potential to really deliver a potent fright-fest.
MYSTERY: This is the big one. The biggest puzzle piece in the path towards fixing this series. In the beginning Resident Evil was scary because you didn’t have the answers. The first time you enter the Spencer mansion, you are surrounded by horrible creatures and trapped with no idea of not only how to escape, but just what the hell is happening. This is something that every game since has been unable to recapture because you’ve always had one foot in the Umbrella saga. No matter how many new mysteries were presented in the sequels there was always that foundation of the first game under your feet.
With Resident Evil 7 we have a (seemingly) hard reset. From what we’ve seen so far, save for a photo in the attic of the house of an umbrella logo, this is a new world with no familiarity. By doing this, Capcom has communicated to us that all bets are off. No Redfields, no Weskers, no familiar footing to begin this new adventure. We don’t know what the source of this evil is, we don’t even know who our protagonist is. Anything can happen in this new Resident Evil because there are no rules that Capcom has to follow, and I love that.
This means that as I play I won’t have any expectations of who lives or dies, what I will face or where I will go, and that’s scary. While I don’t really believe this new game will be completely divorced from the games that came before (Capcom has already stated where this game fits chronolgically with the series) I do have hope that Capcom will take this opportunity to give us a brand new and terrifying experience. Even if they somehow sneak a time bomb in at the end. There’s ALWAYS a time bomb.