Having been a fan of the Resident Evil franchise since the mid 1990’s, it’s safe to say that I have had my fair share of excitement as well as disappointment. So when there were rumblings of a new entry in the series currently in development, I really did not know what to think. Capcom’s previous entry, Resident Evil 6, had plenty of potential but succumbed to the identity crisis it had – 4 separate campaigns that had varying genres. Shortly after the game’s unveiling at E3, Sony and Capcom came together by releasing the demo for Resident Evil 7 on the PlayStation store exclusively for those with PlayStation Plus. Once the announcement was made, I could not wait to get my hands on the game and give it a go!
Capcom doesn’t give players much to go by in terms of the story. However, in Resident Evil 7 Beginning Hour players are given an empty farmhouse to explore with an unfamiliar character with the task of figuring a way out. The point of this demo was not to show off any story to the players but rather give them a sense of the game’s environment in additional to some of the other elements that are thrown right in your face from the start. Once my character woke up, after an interesting opening scene, I did not take long for me to know that I wanted to escape that farmhouse. While there was no real story that took place, the point of this demo was to put players in a situation that was full of tension from start to finish and it was a smart move by Capcom because it showed people such as myself that the king has returned to lay claim to the throne.
Resident Evil 7 Beginning Hour was shown off at the E3 conference during Sony’s briefing – using PlayStation VR. While the franchise is not traditionally a first-person style game, the realm of virtual reality seems to suit the atmosphere quite comfortably.
The version that was made available on the PlayStation Store was the version from the conference but since VR won’t see a release until sometime in October, players had to settle for the ordinary first-person perspective. When comparing both versions of the game, there seemed to be no difference and that is a good thing.
Playing past iterations in from the first-person perspective (Resident Evil Survivor) never seem to give me the jolt or scare that I was in constant search of. That was not the case in the demo that Capcom decided to show off. From the moment I started exploring the farmhouse, I was in constant fear. Sounds of someone or something rushing toward me – only to see nothing was there – would be met with a brief pause of the game in order to collect myself and proceed. What was really spooky was how random things would happen in that house! For example, a group of manikins that were facing the wall of a room that I was exploring would turn to look at me once I turned toward them as if they were alive.
Since the object of the game was simply to find out what happened and escape the house, a number of items to uncover here were extremely limited – only 4 by my count. However, picking these items up and interacting with doors, drawers, and even the refrigerator made use of the X button. The items would get stored into a menu that is accessible by pressing the triangle button and using them by highlighting them, scrolling to the appropriate action, and then pressing the X button.
It is worth nothing that during my time with Resident Evil 7 Beginning Hour I felt isolated and boxed into a corner. This I feel was by design because while the demo only showcased the farmhouse, the halls were very narrow and lead to tight cornered rooms that contributed to the tension. This was a brilliant demo and one that I could see myself playing from time to time until the full version arrives next year because it was extremely refreshing to see Capcom finally bring the series back to its roots.
If you would like to see what the game is like before trying it out for yourself, please check out my colleague’s video on KeenGamer’s YouTube channel.
Sound of Music
The key component to any survival horror game – whether it is from the third-person or first-person perspective is the sound! Resident Evil 7 Beginning Hour does not miss a beat in this department during the 15-20 minutes it takes to complete the demo. Every step was met with a creak coming from the wooden floor as well as interacting with the environment (drawers, switches, and doors) sounded very much like someone was in my kitchen. What I give Capcom credit for are the extra sounds that they implemented to make me feel like someone was rushing me from behind or even the rustling noises throughout the environment. Even the music, while somewhat non-existent, was utilized at the time when it matter the most and that really speaks to the understanding of the task which is to bring Resident Evil back to the forefront of the survival horror genre.
Capcom has made a bold statement with the release of the demo for Resident Evil 7 Beginning Hour. The environment and sound really create a tension that I have not experienced in any of the recent titles in the series. My fears for the franchise’s direction have been replaced with excitement and anticipation because of the resounding effort that went into assuring players and fans of the series that RESIDENT EVIL IS BACK!