Resident Evil 7 – Biohazard – Beginning Hour (Twilight Version)
Tea: Ceylon Tea
Not being the biggest fan of zombie games and badly cliché-infested dialogue, I have stayed away from the Resident Evil series so far. Yet, the first trailer of the new Resident Evil 7 – Biohazard had me oddly intrigued. The P.T.-inspired strategy of releasing a playable teaser of the game before the major announcement showed confidence in the utter abandonment of the series roots, which usually are firmly planted in the soil of third person and shooter. The new growing monstrosity will have to get accustomed to the strange new first person soil and the combat is absent so far. Therefore, I had to delve into this daring new direction of the series and thus played the recently updated version of the demo.
I already mentioned the obvious parallel to the never to be Silent Hills which also started out with a playable teaser. Although I would say this is mostly where the comparison has to end, since both games aim (aimed) for a different tone. P.T. used subtle and grounded environments to instil the fear of the unknown in the known environment, in my book, however, failed due to the overuse of cheap jump scares and abandonment of subtlety. RE7 embraces the more trashy side of horror. This feels much more like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre game than any Silent Hill. Which I appreciate, as new tone is more important than ravaging the corpse of a game that is never going to happen (*cough*, Allison Road, sorry, forgot the second time *cough*). You are an unnamed character waking up in a not so abandoned house which is definitely lived in, the only question hovering over the affair is who would accept such low hygiene standards. The sole goal is presented at the start: Get out of the house. Since this is a demo I can’t really say more without spoiling the experience, so I’ll leave it at that.
– A risky step, but one I can greatly appreciate. –
While this game surely has a trashy look to it with all the cannibal-like figures, the rape house setting, and the random body parts lying about, there is actually some subtlety I really appreciate etched into the fine details. During a sequence where the player gets to experience a previous state of the house, minor things are changed and the seeming solution to this made me shiver a little. To me, such moments are far more effective than any jump scare (which, sadly, are here as well.). There are some rather effective set pieces, also my most hated of all: mannequins. And if mannequins are in a video game you know damn well what they are going to do: move around the instant you look away. While the game sometimes uses clichés, it never overuses them and also brings new ways of scaring the unsuspecting visitor to the table. A later sequence which stuck to my mind was an enemy simply walking by a door. No loud noise, no sudden turning, nope. Just good lighting and atmosphere did the trick. Speaking of light, the demo is set during daytime as the light breaking through the shutters indicates and this deserves some recognition. A demo with this many rooms being fairly well lit and still managing to be scary is quite the accomplishment.
– There sure is a lot of gore lying around in this game, but once you commit… –
The controls are fitting, with only a few options at hand, though I would have liked a jump button, but that’s just me. There is an inventory, of all things, which seems a bit out of place, but this is a survival horror game after all and I’d assume the full version will feature health items and so forth. I even found ammunition, no gun though. The demo even has some replay value, seeing as there are lots of secrets to uncover, the infamous dummy hand and finger being one of the riddles still unsolved. There are multiple “endings” which are not really endings per se, only ends to the demo, but I will take it. There are different version of dialogue you can encounter and even a few rare sightings to find if you have sharp eyes and quick reflexes. All in all, there is a lot to do for such a short demo in such an enclosed space.
– Even rooms with a fair amount of light still manage to carry the atmosphere. –
The most fundamental question is: is it scary? Yes, quite so actually. While it is not scary in an emotionally traumatising way like Silent Hill 2 was, I did dread to enter certain rooms, move along certain ways, and trigger events. While I would not trust this to be a deep and involving psychological horror experience, I also would not label it under as a simple P.T. rip-off. It has its own style and uses it to great effect. The dialogue in the demo was fine for Capcom standards and did not take me out of the experience. The finished product will probably be a slightly self-aware homage to movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes with that ever so present remnant of P.T. The first trailer (which you can and should watch right here) shows the style they are going for very elegantly. I am curious to see where this is going and can say for the first time that I am interested in a Resident Evil game.
Image sources in order of appearance:
- https://i.ytimg.com/vi/WzsD9fqRBSM/maxresdefault.jpg (Last date of access: 22.09.2016)
- http://www.play-gen.de/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Resident-Evil-7-Demo-Beginning-Hour-Screenshot-11.jpg (Last date of access: 22.09.2016)
- http://playmoments.de/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Resident-Evil-7-Teaser_-Beginning-Hour_20160614152237.jpg (Last date of access: 22.09.2016)