The unveiling of Resident Evil 7 at E3 didn’t really shock anybody as rumours of the 7th title had been flying around for a long time, yet Capcom denied each of these rumours. The trailer looked absolutely terrifying and was accompanied by a very creepy version of “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” a reimagining of an American children’s song as the theme tune. What did surprise everyone was the announcement of a demo available on the PlayStation store that night! Here is my review of that demo for Resident Evil 7.
**Please note, there will be spoilers in this review**
Named Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour is only a short demo, according to the producer Masachika Kawata, the demo “was specially created to focus on the atmosphere that Resident Evil 7 will provide. It doesn’t include a lot of other elements that are in the game. Rather, we wanted to convey just what type of feeling you would get from the game.”
You awake in first person to find a camera in front of you, a guy tied up on the floor with blood splattered everywhere and the dark small room is quite bare. The guy awakes and grabs a machete to cut you free, but struggles as he panics. Suddenly a noise is heard behind him…
Cut to the titles and instructions to “Press any button”. The background to this shows a first person perspective of someone getting up from a floor what appears to be a living room. This is the start of the game and immediately a title appears stating “Get out the house”. So far, so very unlike Resident Evil.
The dark and dusty room I found myself in contains a couple of sofas, an old TV and video player missing a video to play. I wandered to the coffee table near the sofas and near a fireplace to find a note stating “I shall dash them against the stones”. Fair enough…
At the end of the room, there’s a fuse box that’s missing a fuse. Sounds of someone walking outside the room can be heard, so I over to the door I went, finding nobody there in the corridor. Just another locked door, a set of drawers with a dirty mirror, stairs and a blocked front door. I found a drawer with a “dummy finger” that, when inspected looked like a key. Up the stairs is a small room with several mannequins dotted around – I had a further look into the room to find nothing, yet when I turned back round the mannequins had moved…. I pressed a button near the top of the stairs but it didn’t seem to have done anything.
Back downstairs I turned right into a very filthy kitchen (don’t even get me started on that dirty fridge, my OCD will have a field day!) I looked around but didn’t really find anything useful. Past the kitchen is a small corridor with a wardrobe locked in chains at one end and a door on the other. Through the door you find what looks like huge slabs of rotten meat, with bolt cutters! I grabbed the bolt cutters, then suddenly something drops down at me, but it’s only a dirty looking doll.
The backdoor is locked (why you can’t just use the bolt cutters on the door, I’ll never know), so I decided to use the bolt cutters on the chains of the wardrobe. Inside is a “Derelict House Footage” video tape! So back to the dirty living room I went, noticing growling noises from the locked doors as I went past.
The tape shows a previous version of the house – showing two guys presenting a documentary of some sort as they enter the house and you are the cameraman for them. One of the guys (Andre) is lost almost immediately as you enter the dirty kitchen of the house. Following the other guy back into the living room, he discovers a lever under the fireplace that when pulled, opens a panel on the lower part of the wall. Crawling through, I found a small crawlspace with a hole in the floor at one end and steps leading down to darkness.
As the friend with me allows me to go first, I find the missing Andre has met his unfortunate end on a hook. The game then switches back to the present, so over to the fireplace I went, pulling the lever and going through the panel. I find a key labelled “back door” and immediately head back to get out.
But, a bloodied and dirty old man grabs me before I can get out and says:
“Welcome to the family son” as the game ends.
Then a title shows “The Family is Expecting you early 2017. Open the door to The Resident Evil Ambassador Program #RE7”. Hmm….
Another time I played, I immediately crawled to the fireplace, pulled the lever and went through the panel. This time, the hole in the floor had no steps. So I looked around to find the fuse part on a table and went back through to the living area to fix it. The fuse box was labelled stairs – so off I went upstairs to press the button I tried first time round. A staircase fell down once it was pressed and up I went. I could hear a phone ringing inside a room – so went in. A female voice said as soon as I answered:
“I know who you are” and “Memories hold the truth. Don’t let appearances mislead you.”
Then when I put the phone down and turned around, I was punched in the face by the dirty old man from first time round saying “welcome to the family son” again.
I played a further 3 times and got either my first or second result. A lot of talk on the internet is going around about what the dummy finger is actually for it’s definitely is a key of some sort. I couldn’t figure out where it should go anyway.
I have to admit, the similarities to PT (the cancelled Silent Hill Playable Teaser) are there – waking to find yourself trapped, different things happening as you make your way round etc. it is scarier than any of the previous Resident Evil titles, especially after 5 and 6 veered off into more action style game play compared to survival horror. It feels a big step away from either style of games and didn’t show combat, or indeed using items in the way we have come accustomed to in previous games.
This demo doesn’t really feel like Resident Evil to me. Sure, I wanted it to go back to the survival horror roots and I wanted something different but I also wanted a game with the characters I’d known with some sort of similarity in gameplay to what I’d come accustomed to. Essentially, I was looking for another Revelations-esque game but Beginning Hour certainly isn’t that.
The graphics look ok and the sound is especially good, but I am not keen on the first person perspective. I suppose they have done this so the VR version will be scarier – but I play games, to be someone else. I don’t want to play the game as me, I’d rather be Chris Redfield, or indeed Jill Valentine any day.