The Resident Evil 7 Demo Is Flawed, But Here’s Why It Shows Promise

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If there was one game featured at Sony’s Monday night conference that most needed to impress it would be Resident Evil 7. It’s been twenty years since Capcom first released their iconic survival horror series, and unfortunately, it’s become a victim of its own success. Over its numerous sequels, spinoffs, movies and books its story has become increasingly convoluted and its gameplay bogged down by unnecessary additions.

The much maligned Resident Evil 6, a globetrotting action-adventure game with eight playable characters, was the culmination of Capcom’s missteps. In the months leading up to E3, rumors that the developer would be returning the series to its horror roots gave fans a glimmer of hope that Resident Evil 7 would be a return to form for the series. Now that we’ve had a chance to look at it, we’re concerned that Capcom may have overcorrected the problem. While it’s obvious that they’re trying to make one of their flagship series feel fresh once more, their signature Resident Evil style seems to have gotten lost.

A considerable portion of Sony’s conference showcased a variety of games set to take advantage of the upcoming PS4 Virtual Reality hardware. Resident Evil 7 was one of the more familiar faces featured during the big reveal. That’s right; although it won’t be exclusive to PS4, Resident Evil 7 will be playable via the PSVR headset from beginning to end. On paper, it’s an exciting idea. The oppressive atmosphere, claustrophobic environments and emphasis on seclusion typical of survival horror makes it one of the genres best suited for VR. The catch is that in order to utilize VR, Resident Evil 7 must be played from a first person perspective.

First person survival horror has proven to be a winning formula, and VR could be the perfect means of evolving the genre further, but it’s a significant departure from the core gameplay of the series and not exactly what we expected to see. Fortunately, Capcom launched a playable demo immediately after the reveal, and brave fans were able to sample the game that very night.

Our feelings are mixed so far. While it starts with promise, the demo is unimpressive and offers nothing new to horror fans. Players awaken in a derelict house straight out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The dimly lit home is covered in a thick mold, there are sticky animal carcasses rotting in every corner, and bizarre voodoo idols dangle from the ceiling. Confused, but immediately aware of a looming danger, players have one goal: escape.