I’ve had a rather tumultuous history with the Resident Evil franchise. They’ve always been competent and interesting shooters with ridiculous stories and, most detrimental to me, cheap scares that border on non-existent on the spooky-o-meter. Resident Evil was also a series that lost it’s footing along the way. Does it want to be a lumbering, tank control game or a fast paced third person shooter? It’s universally considered that Resident Evil 4 was the golden child of the series, a second coming of sorts. It blended the slow paced, methodic horror of the previous entries in the franchise while still maintain it’s own sense of identity and style with the third person shooting. I love a good horror game. I may be too scared shitless to play them well but god damn it, it’s an adrenaline rush. RE was never an adrenaline rush game for me. RE 4 was fun, while 5 and 6 seemed to lose the actual horror element of the series, instead opting for a more action based game.
I was always more keen on Silent Hill (more specifically Silent Hill 2). Psychological horror works well with me (that sounds weird). Seeing a character slowly lose grips with their reality and humanity is a genuinely terrifying event. It places the audience in a precarious position with the main character and their ability to root for said character, it truly makes that relationship feel dynamic. Cinema has been excelling at this for years, straying from the standard slasher romp and instead opting for something that is more akin to that of torture. The Blair Witch Project is an excellent example of a film that doesn’t show all that much in terms of bloody murder and gruesome dismemberment and instead opts to show the mental deterioration of it’s three characters. The malice to the mind is far more real and terrifying than a man with a knife running around stabbing fools. It’s a slow, methodic process that leaves the viewer wishing for the agony inflicted upon a particular character to end, and the sweet release of death (in this particular scenario) never arriving. The ultimate blue balls.
Resident Evil VII is attempting to capture the psychological horror that it’s predecessors seemed uninterested in. Recent horror games are more interested in the mental trauma of a character and adding physical incarnations of the minds’ greatest fears. Two recent horror game spring to mind that contextualize what Resident Evil VII is chasing:
- Layers of Fear
Both of these games thrive on unraveling and warping the player character’s humanity and mentality. P.T. is an obvious place to start. Resident Evil VII is littered with traces of P.T. I’d even argue that this new direction of the franchise would’ve been impossible without the effects that P.T. left on the gaming industry. Every game wants to be P.T. and Resident Evil VII is no different. Layers of Fear is also here because it is another psychological horror game that is more concerned with revealing the psyche of it’s main character than of the actual monster.
Resident Evil VII is a solid game, through and through. The art design and visual fidelity are absolutely astounding. While I believe that P.T. was a better looking game, I can’t deny how gorgeous Resident Evil VII looks. The gameplay is more complex than P.T. which I do applaud. P.T, for all of it’s greatness, is still just a glorified walking simulator. You don’t do anything from a gameplay standpoint besides inching forwards towards certain hell and damnation. Resident Evil is varied, collecting objects and pieces which unlock different endings (usually leading towards the same fate). Another praise I have is it’s replay value. I played through the teaser a total of four times, trying to find different bits and clues throughout the house. We never really get our psychological moment with our blank slate character but I get the feeling that we may get further depth into the world and characters of Resident Evil. The one issue is that, up until the very end, there never seems to be any immediate danger. The atmosphere prevails here by hinting at the possibility of someone stalking you but it’s never really manifested until the very end. There’s also a couple of really good scares littered throughout the teaser that left me rattling in my skin.
Overall, this is an excellent product. If you’re into the new the new era of horror games then this will definitely be right up you’re alley. If you’re a Resident Evil fan then I’m not sure how much this’ll really speak to you. Only time will tell in that situation. I’m curious to see how Resident Evil VII fits into the convoluted, contradictory, (in)consistent timeline of Resident Evil. Again, only time will tell.
Welcome to the family, son.