First Impressions: Resident Evil VII Demo - PreviewEvan Norris , posted on 15 June 2016 / 8,008 Views
Resident Evil is back! Unveiled at Sony's E3 event on June 14, the newest numbered installment of the long-standing survivor-horror series is hitting store shelves next January. The game is called Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, but it could just as easily be called Resident Evil: REboot. Based on the footage at E3 and the demo offered exclusively to PS+ members, Resident Evil VII looks to be a brand new take on the venerated franchise, without any noticeable connection to the characters, locations, and mythology of Resident Evil.
Nicknamed "Beginning Hour," the RE VII demo lasts for about 15 minutes and is played entirely in first person. The stamp of virtual reality on the game is readily apparent. In fact, the newest Resident Evil seems to have found inspiration in a VR tech demo from E3 2015 called Kitchen, which apparently terrified anyone brave enough to try it. Chris Jager at Kotaku Australia called the Kitchen demo "the most disturbing gaming experience" he's played.
So, the two questions on everyone's mind: how is it, and does it play like Resident Evil? Short answer: it's scary as hell and plays nothing like Resident Evil, past or present. With its first person perspective and heavy sense of dread, RE VII plays similarly to horror games like Amnesia, Outlast, and the Silent Hills teaser demo P.T. There's no combat at all in the demo. There is some light puzzle-solving, but it's rather straightforward and easy.
No matter its divergence from the Resident Evil formula, this new RE game is undeniably spooky. There are a couple of jumps scares here and there, but mostly it relies on dread and fear of the unknown. Using visual and auditory cues, Capcom proves it understands a fundamental truth of terror: our imaginations are scarier than any onscreen monster.
But what does all this mean for the franchise moving forward? While it's true that Capcom drifted too far into high-octane action with Resident Evil 5 and 6, the game presented in "Beginning Hour" might represent an overcorrection. There's a fertile middle ground between third-person shooter and first-person horror that still needs to be explored. Time will tell if Resident Evil VII is a one-off experiment or the beginning of a movement that will redefine the series once again.