At 2015’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Japanese publisher Capcom showed off a unique Virtual Reality tech demo called Kitchen, and it scared the pants off of the lucky few who were able to experience its immersive, first-person take on terror.
At the 2016 show, during Sony’s press conference, Capcom returned with a new trailer and playable demo, revealing the true title of the mysterious game: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Presently scheduled for release on January 24, 2017, RE7 promises an intimate Virtual Reality experience, though it can also be played on a standard television, for those unready to take the VR plunge.
Even though the title isn’t due out for over half a year, Capcom made a progressive move by releasing a demo to PS Plus members on PS4. This prologue to the main game, set in a single, claustrophobic location, is already scaring us half to death, and we can’t wait to see what the full game has in store for us. Here’s 15 Things We Want To See In Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
Beginning Hour, the Resident Evil 7 demo/prologue which released last week, only lasts about an hour or less on a first playthrough, but it is jam-packed with jump scares, unsettling imagery, and just enough blood and gore to haunt our nightmares for at least the next month or so. Basically, Resident Evil 7 is promising to be the scariest entry in the franchise to date.
After Resident Evil 4 replaced the horror elements with a much more tension-based method of keeping the player on edge, Resident Evil 5 elected to go in much more of a Hollywood action direction with its excellent co-op setpiece sequences and partner mechanics. Resident Evil 6 was criticized for going way too far in that direction, with its endless barrage of Quick Time Events and brain-dead story which failed to excite long-time fans, despite the return of fan-favorite characters like Sherry Birkin and Leon Kennedy. Even the excellent Revelations sub-series couldn’t redeem the series in the eyes of many fans.
While Resident Evil 7 is not rebooting the story, it’s certainly rebooting the gameplay, bringing players back to a haunted estate where terror awaits around every corner. It’s been a while since Resident Evil made us crap our pants; we’re ready to be horrified again.
14. Multiple Solutions to Puzzles
Back in the old days of Resident Evil, players would have to solve obtuse puzzles to progress through the game; pushing boxes, rotating statues, finding keys shaped like chess pieces… It’s a miracle anybody got anywhere in Raccoon City and Rockfort Island, since just getting from one office to another was an exercise in extreme mental acuity.
The Beginning Hour demo, as of this writing, has two main endings; the first is discovered via following a clue found in a VHS recording and attempting to escape the house via the back door, and the second has the player answering a mysterious phone call before encountering what is essentially the same ending scene.
We would love for the main game to bring this flexibility to the puzzle elements. Perhaps the game may feature a core, “easy,” path, in which the way to the next stage is obvious and requires little thought by a player who just wants to plow through the game to experience the main story. However, other players might want to explore the setting and solve brain-teasing puzzles, and they should be rewarded with alternate routes to the next area, which can be incentivized by the more difficult paths featuring additional journal entries and items. This way, casual players can enjoy the ride, while old-school fans will be able to get as much of a traditional Resident Evil experience as they desire.
While the gameplay mechanics are being distilled to their barest essence, the term “reboot” does not apply to the story of Resident Evil 7. The title is confirmed to be a sequel to the mainstream Resident Evil canon and will not erase any of what came before.
Back in 2005, Resident Evil 4 took Leon S Kennedy, one of the protagonists from 1998’s Resident Evil 2, and threw him into a totally new scenario, all but completely removed from the mythology the series had been building up since the beginning. RE4 is considered to be one of the greatest games in the franchise, and of all time. It pushed the series into bold new directions and told a brand new story, though it still retained distinct Resident Evil ties, such as the presence of Ada Wong and Albert Wesker (who appears briefly in Ada’s Separate Ways campaign, RE4‘s answer to the series’ recurring alternate scenarios).
While we’re excited for the beginning of a new chapter in the Resident Evil mythos, we’d like to see more than a few nods to the games of old. For one thing, ever since the “timeline archive” of Resident Evil 5 confirmed the survival of Nicholai from Resident Evil 3, we’ve been chomping at the bit to put a bullet in that dastardly traitor. Wonder what he’s been up to…
12. Real Life History
Even though Resident Evil 7 is scheduled for release within the first month of 2017 and we’ve already gotten our hands on the playable demo/prologue, we are still very much in the dark as to what the actual game may entail. One thing we do know, however, is that Capcom is saying RE7 will be set in a single location, a derelict plantation estate in the deep south.
Students of history don’t need us to inform them of some of the awful things that went down in southern plantations. Anyone who’s seen Roots, Django Unchained, 12 Years A Slave, or any number of other stories set in the Antebellum South know that such locations were hugely unpleasant for a great many people, to say the least.
If Resident Evil 7 is going to be set in a location ripe with historical context, then it should embrace the violent and shameful history that it represents. RE has a reputation for lengthy journal entries about the history of a game’s setting, and we imagine there’s plenty of material being written about the horrors which surely took place in RE7‘s setting, stretching back hundreds of years.
11. Paranormal Activity?
Will there be ghosts in Resident Evil 7? Well, it certainly looks like there’s something paranormal in the Beginning Hour demo. Eagle-eyed players noticed, during the demo’s VHS flashback section, what appears to be a ghostly figure ascending a staircase, but it disappears without a trace, or even a visual effect. Is the character’s mind playing tricks on him, Eternal Darkness-style, or is the seemingly haunted house actually genuinely haunted?
Back when Resident Evil 4 was trapped in development hell, it was periodically shown to the press before development was scrapped and restarted. A scrapped version of RE4 was spun-off into its own series, Devil May Cry, for example. Another instance was an excessively creepy gameplay trailer set in a haunted mansion, with numerous overt paranormal overtones. This version of the game was scrapped for being too supernatural in nature, so what made Capcom change their mind and return to a more ghostly vision for Resident Evil?
We’re sure that, whatever happens in RE7, Capcom will ensure that the game has some of the trademark Resident Evil flavor, even if the conflict involves paranormal activity of some sort. As long as it fits into RE’s internal logic, we’re fine with it.
The main villains of the Resident Evil saga until Resident Evil 4 all worked for the villainous Umbrella Corporation, who specialized in creating Bio Organic Weapons (BOWs) which would promptly escape and murder everything. This business model ultimately failed to sustain the company, and it went bankrupt, a bold and anti-climactic end to the once-unstoppable corporate giant. Companies like Tricell picked up the slack in subsequent titles, and then Umbrella even made a half-baked return in RE6 in the form of a well-funded bio-terrorist organization, Neo Umbrella.
One way or another, we fully expect some kind of bio-weapon corporate misdeeds to play a role in the story of Resident Evil 7, especially after the Umbrella logo could be seen on a helicopter in a photograph in the Beginning Hour demo. Exactly what it means, we’re not certain yet, though we’re certainly eager to find out. Maybe Umbrella has a secret base in the plantation, much like their secret base under the Spencer mansion in 1996’s original Resident Evil.
Resident Evil 4 did just fine without Umbrella pulling the strings, despite the ominous (and nearly completely unseen) presence of Albert Wesker behind the scenes. Other entries to not include Umbrella as a main antagonist include Resident Evil Revelations and the excellent spin-off film, Resident Evil: Damnation.
For Resident Evil 7, while we’re expecting Umbrella to make some sort of appearance, we’re more interested in the residents of the plantation estate. Who would live in such a creepy location? Based on their extremely limited appearance in the demo, we’re anticipating something like the villains in the famous season 4 episode of The X-Files, “Home.” In the episode, the freaks aren’t weaponized monsters; they’re inbred racist isolationists who have been cut off from society for too long. One possible interpretation of the “Welcome to the family” line from the demo could be seen to reinforce this theory. Time will tell, but we’re holding out hope for some kind of redneck/Umbrella alliance in the story, which would make for some seriously dissonant villains, especially if a “Project Wesker” figure is involved…
8. Limit the Amount of Backtracking
As much as we love the old Resident Evil games, we always hated getting lost looking for hidden rooms, secret keys, and other quest items to open doors. The momentum of the original game really suffered when Chris or Jill had to run halfway across the mansion just to pick up a key they had missed the first time around, or worse, if an item was previously inaccessible and pointless backtracking was required by design.
While we champion RE7 returning to its roots as a survival horror pioneer, maybe they can modernize some of the old-timey adventure game elements. For the most part, gamers want to move forward, not backwards. Don’t make us run all the way back to the beginning of the game just to obtain a quest item. Instead, we’d like to see the full game follow the structure of the demo, which is set in something of a micro-sandbox. A benefit of a small play area for any given scenario is that everything we need to move on to the next stage should be relatively close at hand. Still, if we must walk backwards, at least be sure to change things up for any return trips we have to make to previously-explored areas.
7. Rebecca Chambers
Along with Billy Coen, Rebecca Chambers has been mysteriously missing in action ever since her starring role in Resident Evil 0, a prequel to the original game. She was playable in Resident Evil 5’s The Mercenaries Reunion mode, but that’s decidedly non-canon, so it doesn’t count. Rebecca has long been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories, many of which link her with none other than Albert Wesker.
In Resident Evil 2, searching Wesker’s desk in the STARS office 50 times yields the item, “Film D.” Upon developing the film in the police station’s dark room, players are rewarded with a photograph. Labeled with a single word — “Recruit” — the photo is of a teenage Rebecca. Fans have debated the meaning of this Easter Egg for the better part of two decades. Is Rebecca secretly Wesker’s daughter, like RE6‘s Jake Muller? Is she an agent for him like Ada Wong? Are we just crazy and looking too deeply into a non-clue?
6. New Versions of Old Monsters
Hunters, Lickers, Mr. X, Tyrants, Nemesis, El Gigante… The list of classic Resident Evil monsters goes on and on. While RE7 will mark the start of the next phase in the never-ending video game soap opera that is Resident Evil, we still would like to see nods to classic monsters. Resident Evil 4 earned some flack for not including a single recurring monster from earlier games, and Resident Evil 5 was subsequently praised for bringing Lickers back, scarier and more dangerous than ever.
For RE7, we want for Capcom to make new what once was old. Perhaps, several years ago, a single Hunter or Licker escaped captivity in the secret Umbrella lab located on the plantation. As time went by, the creature became urban legend, slowly becoming feral and even more deadly than its more familiar brethren.
Villains like Nemesis and Mr. X were iconic in their day and are still terrifying, but we want RE7 to be different. A solitary mutated Hunter stalking the player across the plantation could offer a more intimate version of the “monster horror” Resident Evil has so consistently delivered over the decades.
5. Multiple Perspectives
Resident Evil has almost always featured pairs of two characters surviving the horror together. Jill and Chris, Leon and Claire, Sherry and Jake, Leon and Ashley… Even before the games went co-op, Resident Evil has almost always featured gender-equal pairings, of one man and one woman, fighting evil together. For all of its many, many faults, Resident Evil 6 had a great idea in dividing the story into three distinct campaigns which would crossover in key sections. Unfortunately, that game’s narrative was a jumbled mess, with all the important revelations restricted to unlockable files, rather than the in-game cutscenes and dialogue.
The Beginning Hour demo offered a variant on this design philosophy in its VHS section: after finding a VHS tape and bringing it to a VCR, the player gets to experience the events of the VHS as another level of gameplay, playing through the past to learn and alter the present. If the main game finds ways to allow for different perspectives on key events of the story, while also telling an interesting tale worthy of the Resident Evil name, then we’ll be ready to play through multiple times and enjoy it all the more.
4. No Army Men
The most critically acclaimed Resident Evil titles involve a minimum amount of human characters, trapped in unique and visually engaging locations, outnumbered, outgunned, and with little chance of escape. Spin-off titles like Operation Raccoon City and Resident Evil 6 failed, in part, because they featured too many NPCs who turned what should have been a horror experience into a run-of-the-mill third-person action game.
To be fair, the series’ increased focus on action can be traced all the way back to Resident Evil 2, which featured heavily armed Umbrella goons (led by fan-favorite HUNK) shooting William Birkin to death before accidentally releasing the T-virus in Raccoon City, but those initial events were restricted to non-playable cutscenes.
If Resident Evil 7 wants to maintain the claustrophobic tone of the Beginning Hour demo, then it needs to make sure not to include heavily-armed SWAT-types in the game. And don’t make our playable character an ex-military macho man who knows his way around a battlefield. While that would certainly be useful for combat, it would also be too empowering for the horror vibe established by the demo.
3. No Big Guns
We don’t want our protagonist to be an action hero, or a rugged survivor, or anything else that would be overly empowering for the player. We want the lead characters in Resident Evil 7 to be totally out of their depth, unprepared, and under-equipped for the physical and psychological stress of trying to survive a terrifying night in a haunted estate.
There will be combat in the main game, and guns will be included. The Beginning Hour demo features a hatchet, though there are no enemies to fight, as far as we are aware. However, while we will welcome the opportunity to defend ourselves from zombies, mutants, or whatever RE7 has in store for us, we never want to feel like we can take on the whole world. This is very much not the Arkham series.
Chris and Sheva shoot their way through thousands of zombies and titanic monsters in Resident Evil 5, and while it worked great for that game, but we don’t want that for this entry. We want every bullet to be as precious as a smoothly cut diamond, and for monsters to require intelligent tactics to avoid and take down, rather than just brute force and luck. We want to be scared, and that means being at risk of dying every time an enemy is encountered.
2. The Merchant
“What are you buying?”
Resident Evil 4 had a strong and varied cast of characters. Leon, Ada, Wesker, Luis, Krauser, Salazar, Saddler… All distinct and memorable figures. However, nobody sticks out in the minds of hardcore Resident Evil 4 fanatics like the enigmatic Merchant. This mysterious peddler would appear every so often to buy and sell weapons, ammo, and jewels.
While he only functions as a gameplay mechanic and has no real role to play in the story, a fandom quickly developed around The Merchant. Perhaps it’s his relaxed demeanor, memetic dialogue, cockney accent, his apparent ignorance of the dangerous monsters all around him, or possibly just his distinct love of capitalism, but The Merchant is easily one of the most popular characters in the RE series.
Unfortunately for his surprisingly passionate following, The Merchant has yet to make any repeat appearances since RE4. Perhaps he’s been exploring the world, looking for exotic new weapons. Even if there’s no shop in Resident Evil 7 (which would be totally fine, considering the tone of the game thus far), we’d still like to see at least a cameo or a nod of some sort to our favorite travelling salesman.
1. Be Resident Evil, Not Silent Hill
Almost immediately, the Beginning Hour demo was compared to PT, in ways both favorably and unfavorably. PT was the Playable Teaser for Silent Hills, which was being developed by a team which included Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima, famed director Guillermo Del Toro, and actor Norman Reedus. Unfortunately, publisher Konami suddenly cut off all ties to Kojima and unceremoniously cancelled the Silent Hill revival project.
Historically, Resident Evil and Silent Hill have been rivals in the world of videogames. Resident Evil always had more of a B-movie flavor with its zombies and wildly zany storylines. Meanwhile, Silent Hill was seen as a more mature and cerebral alternative, with realistic characterization and resonant themes. Unfortunately, while Resident Evil has more-or-less remained a fan-favorite franchise, the general consensus is that the quality of the Silent Hill games had seriously dropped off after Silent Hill 4 (or 3, depending on who you ask) and that the series has long been in need of a creative overhaul. Kojima and Del Toro could surely have brought the series back to its heyday of Silent Hill 2, but, alas, it was simply not to be.
Now that Resident Evil 7 is being accused of copyingthe aesthetics of PT, Capcom needs to prove that, despite being a new frontier for the series, RE7 will still be recognizable as an entry in the beloved franchise, and is not just trying to ape a different, cancelled title. We’re confident that RE7 will feel distinct from Silent Hill, but we still recognize the concern from fans that RE7 may wind up feeling too different.
Then again, Resident Evil 4 was the subject of much scrutiny leading up to its release, and it immediately became one of the most critically-acclaimed action titles of all time.
What do you want to see in Resident Evil 7? How many times have you played through the demo? What’s the deal with the mannequin finger? Sound off in the comments below!
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