• Resident Evil 7

  • Resident Evil 7

  • Resident Evil 7

  • Resident Evil 7

  • Resident Evil 7

  • Resident Evil 7

Where do you go after creating one of the most beloved games of all time? It's a question that Capcom has struggled to answer since releasing 2005's genre-defying classic, Resident Evil 4.

After accidentally creating the blueprint for a generation's worth of action games, the last decade has seen the Japanese company awkwardly straddling action and horror. With the last two mainline games failing to live up to expectations, many think Resident Evil has lost its way.

It's now make or break time for the series, and Capcom is responding by shaking up the entire notion of what it means to be a Resident Evil game (again). No pressure then.

New beginnings

Resident Evil 7

Thankfully, Resident Evil 7 knows exactly what it wants to be. Shrugging off the series' recent identity crisis, RE7 attempts to deliver the nasty, nail-biting horror experience that fans have been impatiently waiting for. And (optionally) in virtual reality, no less.

Taking its cues from the Amensia: The Dark Descent school of horror games, Resident Evil 7 is the first in the series to stray from its trusty over-the-shoulder view, opting for a more modern and immersive first-person perspective. It's a bold and exciting departure, which we first saw a glimpse of in the creepy found-footage horror of the PS4-exclusive teaser, Resident Evil 7: The Beginning Hour.

It turns out The Beginning Hour was actually little more than a standalone introduction to the game. No one had actually played the real Resident Evil 7 – until now.

American Horror Story

The demo we played at Gamescom was flashback level called Lantern. Throughout the game, you'll find VHS tapes hidden around the world, and inserting these tapes into an old-school VHS deck allows you to relive the terrible events of the past – which in turn helps you to understand the terrors of the present.

Lantern is one of those tapes, and this grainy, found-footage level sees you play as a mysterious woman called Mia, who is running for her life through a plantation in the States. The demo didn't pull any punches. Straight from the get-go, it sees you running towards an abandoned house, chased by a horrifying old woman brandishing a lantern. Only three ominous words appear on the screen – "Don’t get caught." Fair advice!

Hearing the blood-curdling screams of the old woman, I ran as fast as my digital legs could carry me, heading straight into the house and slamming the door shut. I ran through the corridor, frantically shaking the doorknobs of every locked door to no avail – until I heard the front door burst open. "I told you not to come here," the old woman shrieks.

Panicking, I bolt back around the corridor and dart into the nearest open door, her lantern swinging menacingly in my peripheral vision. I dash through the room and see a very Resident Evil-looking pedestal, so I hurriedly attempt to interact with it. No luck.


Resident Evil 7

The woman’s footsteps now sound dangerously close. With only one door ahead of me, and the threat of her not far behind, I dart through the only open door I can... and find myself trapped on an enclosed porch. Seeing a crate tucked away in the corner, I dive behind it just as the old woman enters the adjacent room. Inspecting every inch of her surroundings, I nervously watch her through a crack in the wall.

My heart races as she turns towards the porch and mutters, "This house is off limits." She stamps around the porch's creaking wooden floorboards, getting increasingly agitated. "Why are you doing this?! After all we’ve done for you," she screams. She darts around to my corner of the porch and swings her lantern mere inches away from me. By some minor miracle she turns away in frustration, somehow not noticing me cowering behind the crate.

I wait until I hear her walk away from the porch before I work up the courage to peer through the crack in the wall. Taking my chances, I look around and spot a statue hidden in the corner. I walk back into the room next to the porch, and sure enough, the statue can be placed onto the pedestal.

A Link to the Past

Resident Evil 7

In old school Resi fashion, the statue had to be rotated in just the right direction until you matched the statue’s shadow with the painting's opposite, opening a secret passageway. Of course. It’s the first time in the demo that there was something recognisably Resi here, effortlessly marrying the old with the new.

But there was no time for nostalgia, as the woman had heard my commotion. Darting through the secret passageway, she was already there waiting. After an intense few minutes of having to constantly move to escape her, I managed to make a bolt for freedom and dive under the floorboards.

I could hear the woman furiously screaming above me. "You have a gift. Why can't you accept it? Just stay where we tell you." And then silence. Continuing to crawl through, I found a piece of paper that stated, "There's something wrong with her." You don't say?

In time, a hole appeared above the floorboards and I slowly emerged. But as I lifted my head, the woman suddenly grabbed me and shrieked a bloodcurdling scream. With that, "Welcome to the Family" appeared on the screen. A terrifying prospect, indeed.

Initial verdict

Resident Evil 7

It's rare that a horror game manages to scare without supernatural foes, but my time with Resident Evil 7 had me more shaken than James Bond’s martini. With the entire game playable using PlayStation VR and Capcom promising different varieties of horror gameplay throughout the experience, this looks to be something rather special. 

Resident Evil 7 is not only shaping up to be the best Resident Evil game in a decade, but also arguably the most movie-like horror experience ever seen in a video game. We can't wait to meet the rest of the family when the game ships in January 2017.

Order Resident Evil 7 here from Amazon

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