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Resident Evil has seemingly been near its end for a long time now. After years of departing from the slow shifting tension, that’s all about to change with Resident Evil VII. Capcom has discovered a way to resurrect the series and keep it shambling on.
For the first time in the main series, Resident Evil will be presented entirely in first person (with Playstation VR support to boot). This move almost didn’t come as a surprise to me. The popularity of FPH (First Person Horror) is intensifying with the likes of Outlast and Alien Isolation. That’s not to mention Guillermo Del Toro’s and Hideo Kojima’s now infamous PT, the demo for the cancelled Silent Hills that Resi 7 has drawn similarities to.
It made perfect sense as a way for Resident Evil to remain relevant. However, let’s not forget that the last time Resident Evil tried to stay relevant, Resident Evil 6 was forced upon us. There’s also a good chance of getting lost in the crowd once again, with FPH popularity.
That being said, the demo didn’t disappoint. The first person perspective lends itself well to the claustrophobia that classic Resi fans are used to. If anything, this is how Resident Evil was always intended – do a quick Google and one can easily discover that Resident Evil was originally planned to be a FPH experience. This new entry truly takes Resident Evil back to its roots!
Now the new title begins to make more sense. The stylized title mixes the numerals ‘VII’ in with ‘Resident Evil’ (in Japan, it’s Bioha7ard). In a clever way Capcom has implied that this is a fresh start, but with all the experience of the previous titles.
Capcom have confirmed this game does take place in the post-Resident Evil 6 universe, thus the inclusion of VII. However, no previous characters will return and the story is brand new, thus ‘disguising’ the VII.
Another interesting title note. Die hard fans will know that Resident Evil has always been called Biohazard in Japan. The reasoning is simple – imagine trying to copyright Biohazard as a standalone title in the US. Resident Evil ‘7’ comes with the subtitle Biohazard in all territories, another first for the series.
A potential clever reasoning here could be that this new Resident Evil will be the first in the main series to be written by a Western writer, Richard Pearsey (he wrote F.E.A.R, so that’s promising). This inclusion of the Japanese exclusive title could represent a unity between Capcom’s Biohazard, and Western writing (the Resident Evil side representing the west).
So we’re presented with Resident Evil Biohazard. Although it marks the seventh entry in the series, it represents an even more radical departure than Resident Evil 4 (which, after all, only changed up gameplay and pacing). Perhaps Capcom has no intention of keep Resident Evil relevant, but instead plans to re-brand the long standing series as something new.
A completely different beast has been born with Resident Evil Biohazard (though no doubt fans in each territory will refer to it as either ‘Resident Evil’ or ‘Biohazard’), and it will be interesting to see how it evolves.
The demo itself is a rather short but sweet experience. You wake up in a darkened house and are given one simple task – get out. A simple enough task that’s actually accomplished rather quickly, but certainly doesn’t end well…
You’re then given the option of replaying the demo. Using what you’ve learned in the first play through, you can then proceed to unlock a few more secrets and even a second ending!
There’s even a secret weapon to be unlocked, although combat itself isn’t part of the demo. This merely serves to show off the inventory and equipment system in more detail. Like I’ve been hoping ever since Resident Evil began, equipped weapons don’t take up inventory space – realism at last!
Speaking of the inventory, fans will be delighted to know that management and limited space for carrying items and weapons has returned. The inventory is simple to navigate and easy to arrange, so it’s not overly clunky.
Using key items has also been altered slightly – rather than being automatically used in the right place, if the player has the item the menu will be opened (so there’s just enough automation to make things more streamlined). This is all well and good for doors (it’s the key, duh!), but perhaps for complicated puzzles this could add an additional level of challenge.
Even the demo has proved this… Google ‘Resident Evil 7 dummy finger’ and you’ll understand. No one has yet figured out how to use the item, despite Capcom’s insistence that it is useful.
There even seems to be some out of place elements for Resident Evil. Fans have reported sightings of a ‘ghost’ in segments of the demo (though I’ve yet to spot her). Though it’s a possible glitch, this could potentially be Capcom making the most extreme departure in the Resident Evil series yet.
In an early build, Resident Evil 4 depicted many supernatural occurrences (later all transformed into Devil May Cry). These were explained as hallucinations due to Leon having been infected with the progenitor virus. This version was scrapped as being too radical a departure, but perhaps now we’re ready.
In fact, if you take a look at the table your character wakes up in during the demo, you’ll spot a used syringe. Perhaps this idea of infected hallucinations will make a (very welcome) return.
There are many mysteries still surrounding this new Resident Evil. Even the final title itself remains up in the air if you ask me. Will there be cameo appearances from other characters? Will supernatural elements be featured (because at this stage, it’s a tad more believable than evil mega corporation science)? How will this new entry fall in to the timeline?
A lot remains to be seen, and for those that wanted a return to sheer horror, it’s a very exciting time to be a Resident Evil fan.