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Resident Evil 7 could take the survival-horror genre to new heights

RE7 survival horror.jpg

I’ve been a big fan of Capcom’s Resident Evil (RE) franchise ever since I played the first game. Over the years, the franchise has undergone some major changes, shifting from survival-horror into more of an action-horror affair. From the “Beginning Hour” teaser and recently released footage of the full game, I believe RE7 could be the greatest game in the franchise to date.

My colleague Han Cilliers recently tried the demo out for herself and found out that the game is not for the faint-hearted. It isn’t, definitely not, but if you are a fan of pure survival horror, RE7 could be the game you’ve been waiting for. RE7 doesn’t just change around a few things or continue the action-horror trend, but rather breaks the franchise mold and reassembles it into a survival-horror experience that knows no equal. In my opinion, Capcom have achieved this horrifyingly magnificent feat in three distinct ways.

Warning: There be “Beginning Hour” spoilers ahead

A sense of helplessness

Since RE4, I never felt like I was trying to survive. Instead, the protagonist had a plethora of weaponry at their disposal and was, for the most part, accompanied by an NPC and got stuck just about everywhere, breaking any sense of immersion. Even RE: Revelations 2, which I thoroughly enjoyed, did suffer from one flaw; I never had the sense of helplessness that I would expect from a true survival-horror experience. 

With RE7, Capcom has not only delivered that sense of helplessness, but managed to create situations where I truly felt like I was in danger. It is the first time I ever felt afraid to open a door or turn around in a game; because if something or someone was indeed behind me, my only option would be to run, or die trying. RE7 brings back true survival horror. You aren’t a hero that looks like he or she was ripped straight from an action movie bent on taking down the bad guys. Instead, the protagonist feels weak, with their only goal to survive the horrific tale.

Right from the start, the game shows you that you are fragile and there is always a sense that something much, much more powerful than you is around every corner; and sometimes there is.

Horror in the first person

The RE franchise has always been a third-person affair, with various degrees of success. Camera angles did play an important part in building the suspense in the first few games, but since then the third-person camera and clipping issues found in just about every RE game became more of a hindrance than a stepping stone for horror.

The first-person perspective of RE7 is not only a welcome change and eliminates all the camera issues of the previous games, but is also immerses the player so fully that I shiver at the thought of playing the game in Virtual Reality (VR).

RE7’s Producer, Masachika Kawata, recently talked to Game Informer and explained the move to a first-person view:

“When we decided on the direction of focusing on horror, we thought that having a first-person perspective would be the most effective way to fully immerse the player in the experience. By making the player the main character, we believe they’ll be able to have a more personal connection to what’s going on and experience survival horror like never before.” - Source

During my multiple play-throughs of The Beginning Hour while I attempted to see all the endings, I became so immersed in the experience and genuinely became frightening and tensed up, something that hasn’t really happened to me in a game before, with the exception of Outlast. The first-person perspective is therefore one of the main reasons I think RE7 will not only be the best game in the franchise, but possible one of the best horror games ever created.

The feeling you get when you see the protagonist’s hands as your own and never knowing what is lurking in the shadows behinds you just push the experience to the next level.

Fear of the unknown

At the end of the last section of this article, I mentioned replaying teaser demo. In fact, I played the demo seven times now, and the old derelict house still beckons. As I ventured deep into the darkness of every room, I discovered something I haven’t seen before. It felt like the house was alive, reaching out to me and whispering in my ear that there is more left to uncover, If I was brave enough. Depending on what choices I made or which items I picked up first, my experience changed; most of the times resulting in my swift demise.

There is a true sense of fear, not because of jump scares (which the game also has), but rather of what I could not see or figure out. Why did a piece of paper move from the table to the television and how did it get there? Does the house hold more secrets or dangers than I found in my last play-through? These thoughts kept rushing through my head, and it was absolutely disturbing.

Even the short “Beginning Hour” demo allowed me to experience several different endings, find small but interesting new secrets each play-through, and almost made me drop my controller in fear a couple of times. I want to go back to the house again and uncover even more secrets, I really do, but with each play-through the fear of the unknown became worse.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will go back, but what I will find this time is an unknown entity I genuinely feel afraid to discover.

If the teaser demo as well as gameplay videos released by Capcom are anything to go by, RE7 is set to reinvigorate the franchise. Although some RE fans might not agree with the direction Capcom is taking, it is in my opinion a brilliant move and I believe that the developer didn’t exaggerate with the statement “Opening the doors to a new era of horror”.  

The RE7 demo is available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC right now; and I recommend that everyone should at least try it once, at night with headphones on…

Note: The videos in this article is from the Beginning Hour Demo on the Xbox One. 

Do you think the RE franchise is moving in the right direction and have you tried the Beginning Hour teaser yet? Let us know in the comment section below.  

Source: Game Informer

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