By now, Resident Evil fans have probably poured over the “Beginning Hour” demo that was released during E3. We’ve explored the creepy house. We’ve watched (and interacted with) the VHS tape in the living room. We’ve been invited to “join the family.”
That demo isn’t part of Resident Evil 7. It was put forward for tonal purposes, though fans weren’t quite sure exactly what that meant.
Today, we can tell you definitively what Resident Evil 7 is and what it isn’t. Mostly. Kind of.
The entire game will be in first-person, just like the Beginning Hour demo. In the Gamescom demo, which you have already seen almost in its entirety (except for excessive strong language and a simple puzzle), a girl named Mia is running from Marguerite Baker, the woman with the lantern. In the demo, she is howling about Mia being ungrateful for a gift which she was offered.
This bit takes place in Dulvee, Louisiana. The Baker family has disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
The Lantern demo is a found footage segment, just like the one that was in Beginning Hour. As Capcom has previously discussed, the protagonist (who has yet to be revealed) is male, so we don’t quite know who Mia is or the “Ethan” who she is addressing.
We also don’t know to whom Marguerite is referring when she howls about someone offering Mia “her gift.” The woman also references that she and her family took Mia in and opened their heart and home to her.
At least some of the found footage segments are optional, and it’s not clear quite yet how they weave into the main story narrative. We just know that they do.
I didn’t love the demo. I thought the jump scares were predictable, the gameplay about as far as you can get from any version of Resident Evil we’ve seen before, and the experience fairly boring. Capcom wasn’t even ready to tell us quite yet if what you do in the found footage segments has any bearing on the “real world” that we’ll explore as the protagonist.
The one thing that did stand out as a positive is the use of depth of field to create cinematic moments. Unfortunately, those emerge most when hiding in one spot and remaining motionless for extended periods of time. The Lantern demo does a good job of aping the B-movie slasher vibe, but I’m not sure that’s what I want from Resident Evil (or from any series).
I’m not sure what Capcom is planning. Perhaps we’ll find out sooner rather than later as we approach the January 24, 2017, release date how this relates to the series and its established characters. Until then, I’m hesitant about this one. I hope Capcom is able to change that.