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Feature Article

Resident Evil 7 Continues to Break from Tradition With Its New Demo

Becoming a beast of its own.

If Resident Evil VII: Biohazard's Beginning Hour demo showcased the game's focus on a grim atmosphere, the new Lantern demo reveals another layer: a narrative structure driven by sinister characters and set-piece moments.

At E3 2016, producer Masachika Kawata detailed how the entirety of Resident Evil VII will work. There will be combat. There will be gunplay. There will be a renewed focus on survival, something the series has largely lacked since its shift to third-person action with Resident Evil 4. But one thing Kawata didn't mention was the horror game's overarching structure. The Lantern demo illustrates that structure--and it's a new direction for the storied franchise.

Unlike the Beginning Hour demo, the Lantern demo is actually part of the final game. However, it will act as a standalone flashback, following a peripheral storyline that may or may not affect Resident Evil VII's main narrative. As Kawata recently told GameSpot at Gamescom, the sequel will include numerous VHS tapes that allow you to play these tangential sections. They function much like notes and audio logs in earlier Resident Evil entries. But this time, they're playable.

"So in the main game you're playing as the main character," Kawata said. "These video tapes are a chance for you to experience the events of the storyline from different characters' perspectives--maybe even fill in story gaps. They act to break up the main narrative in an interesting way."

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The Lantern demo follows a girl named Mia as she emerges from a swamp onto the grounds of a decrepit shack. She's running from an older woman whose titular lantern illuminates the ground around her. As Mia, I entered the shack and my sole objective appeared in white text on the screen: "Don't Get Caught."

For the next 10 minutes, I snuck through the darkened shack and avoided the woman at all costs, watching for the telltale lantern light that marked her proximity. She shouted profanities, senile musings, and aggressive threats. "I'm going to feed you to my babies, and your remains will fertilize the garden!" A dreadful pallor hung in the air as I searched for a way out.

Following in the footsteps of the Beginning Hour, The Lantern demo incorporates simple puzzle elements, marking a return to the earlier Resident Evil titles that favored slower pacing over all-out combat. The puzzles here are simple but tense: the woman could be somewhere closeby while I find objects and discern their applications. As I search for the objects, hide behind cabinets, and avoid her gaze, the tension slowly mounts, until I know exactly what I have to do but have to wait for the precise moment to do it.

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"I don't think we'll ever be able to please 100 percent of the fans," Kawata told GameSpot at Gamescom. "You have your original trilogy fans and your newer fans. I don't want to think of it as 'How do I get those two groups on board,' as much as I'm trying to get people on board who want this entirely new horror experience."

The lantern-carrying villain of the new demo is one of numerous characters Resident Evil VII will use to drive its branching storyline forward. She lords over her shack in the swamp with the possessive intensity of a murderous mother. With only a few lines of dialogue and two dusty notes placed in the house, Resident Evil VII implies a past connection between Mia and her pursuer. There's bad blood here. The elderly woman seems to have trouble forgetting it.

Kawata and his team have yet to reveal any actual footage of Resident Evil VII's main storyline. But the Lantern demo does shed light on the studio's intentions with the upcoming sequel. Previous Resident Evil titles created tension through harrowing combat and survival-based situations, and if what Kawata says is true, so will VII. But the sequel will create something more sinister, with vivid characters, harrowing situations, and a unique story structure. Kawata may not be able to please all of the fans, but in breaking from series tradition, Resident Evil VII seems to have a distinct flavor of its own.

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Mike Mahardy

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Resident Evil 7: biohazard

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Avatar image for keldarironfist
keldarironfist

It's so sad, and a bit ironic, that the silent hill series didn't get the credit it deserved as it served as one of the primary inspirations for the western horror games that have been made in recent years that this current resident evil takes inspiration from. Not only that but silent hill 4, the room, got mediocre reviews but essentially was an early version of P.T. which seems to have inspired this and other horror games as well.


The series is wasted at konami and they should be ashamed that everyone else is picking up the torch that silent hill carried. I also detect a hint of the original blair witch project. This is pretty neat, I admit, it's just a shame that a new proper silent hill, the king of horror video games isn't being made. Also if people want to know where *some* of the ideas or specific aesthetics for this flavor of the hillbilly zombie family came from, it seems to have been partially inspired by an old, and largely regarded as one of the grossest and best x-files episodes called "home". Look it up, you will see the similarities. I noticed it right away.

Avatar image for ekoms108
Ekoms108

I have this idea but I don't know if it's possible. Could you make real haunted house, like a level for video game, and maybe make some of the physical effects loop every 10 seconds or something, and just walk a 3d camera through the house, in the position that would be above a characters shoulder.

You would design it so rooms and areas have different paths the camera could go, so eventually you have 3d film of the paths you could take through the house.

The you just drop in 3d models and lighting effects, and map out the areas so analoug control of your character feels right.

Could you make a photorealistic game this way. You wouldn't have control of the camera so you have to dynamically mqke the camera switch paths, go in reverse, and things like that.

Avatar image for diegosax
diegosax

Why call It REVII if it's not a RE game as far I and everyone else can se?

Just give it another name and start a new franchise (unless there is some zombies hiding somewhere)

Avatar image for jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

Feels/seems, very much like the PT SH demo from last year save for a different setting, which is not quite like original RE but refreshing none the less.

I do enjoy the more horror look of the game then the FPS and or bro games that RE 5 and that mess called RE 6 was.

But regardless, just make a damn good game. Tomb raider reboot was hardly anything like old TR but it was an awesome game. RE6 was dragged down an accountants list of things to add to a game to make it 'hip' and make marketers happy. What was made, was a disconnected mess, with no story, no scares, no sense.

Will we ever get the feeling back of the jump scares when dogs busted through the windows in Resident Evil or here the moaning word "STARS" that sends chills up your spine. or With RE CV with the tale of the twins that was so engrossing. RE4 that had one of the most intense sniper story sections ever. will We as consumer ever get that back? , probably no. But if you want our money then give us something competent and very good.

No matter what or how good RE7 eventually turns out, safest bet it to not buy at launch and give the reviews a look over after it has been out a while. Maybe even pick it up later on, after reduced. Because one thing RE6 has taught gaming consumers, picking up at launch is a terrible idea.

Avatar image for hellpedre
HellPedre

"You have your original trilogy fans and your newer fans. I don't want to think of it as 'How do I get those two groups on board,' as much as I'm trying to get people on board who want this entirely new horror experience."

So, they are shitting in both new AND old fans? am I the only one to notice this? basically hes saying "we cant please them all, so we gonna try something completely different and lets see if some of them likes it".... whattheactualfff dudes really? jfc... (jsusyouknowcrist)

Avatar image for urbanman2004
urbanman2004

Does Amnesia or Outlast ring a bell to anyone

Avatar image for h1221292h
h1221292h

@urbanman2004: And PT?

Avatar image for urbanman2004
urbanman2004

@h1221292h: true

Avatar image for KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

i think that as a horror game alone it shows promise but not so much as a resident evil game. its pretty obvious that they just slapped the resident evil name on there just to make an extra buck but when i play the demo and absorb all the media content and info that's slowly revealed about this game the more i feel its less of a resident evil game and more like a new ip in the horror genre for capcom.

Avatar image for kmikldvintx
KmiklDvintX

You ever had that feeling in Resident Evil where you're afraid to open that door, because you don't know what's behind it? It could be a monster, a trap, a safe room, whatever. But you were afraid to open it.

I think this game does the best job of doing that right now. People are saying this isn't Resident Evil because it's First Person, and you're in a dilapidated home. Personally, I think this is more Resident Evil than the last games.

Avatar image for jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@kmikldvintx: Yeah i know what you mean, in RE 5 and 6, i just checked to make sure my weapon was reloaded- with no feel of stress or thrill or dread. WEll save for, 'god i hope this section is better then the last one'

Avatar image for KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

@kmikldvintx: think theres some confusion there. for example, although i think that as a horror game alone it shows promise but not so much as a resident evil game. its pretty obvious that they just slapped the resident evil name on there just to make an extra buck but when i play the demo and absorb all the media content and info that's slowly revealed about this game the more i feel its less of a resident evil game and more like a new ip in the horror genre for capcom.

Avatar image for not-john-locke
not-john-locke

@KimCheeWarriorX: You do realize that you posted this exact same thing a couple of spots up? And that you'll likely be proven wrong in January?

Avatar image for TheZeroPercent
TheZeroPercent

--hmmm
--2 demos?
--i will say
--the more demos the better

Avatar image for not-john-locke
not-john-locke

I'm still cautiously optimistic. I love the look of the game-- the setting and it's darkly realistic tone, and the 70s/80s aesthetic of it all. And i do like the VHS tape aspect, where you play most of the game as the male protagonist-- who i'm assuming will have weapons and a consistent inventory of items-- and then play these seemingly more stealthy VHS sections as other characters. So i'm still holding out for more of the actual gameplay-- the combat and weapons and inventory-- and to see who this main character actually is. I've just seen too little gameplay (and zero main game gameplay) to make judgement right now, other than it looks cool, and i'm still really interested in what this game's all about. I am fairly certain though that there will be much more that will tie RE7 into the rest of the mainline games-- that's what i'm *really* looking forward to seeing.

Avatar image for eilegz
eilegz

well i am the newer fans since re4 to re6 plus the revelations.... this game could be more horror but the fps and the game looks itself its meh. i have no doubts that this game will do worse than evil within... the thing about survival horrors its that its the genre that wont be a mass market success, loyal original trilogy fans may enjoy it but they are the minority

Avatar image for not-john-locke
not-john-locke

@eilegz: I'll bet you 5 bucks that RE7 outsells The Evil Within, which itself actually sold pretty damn well.

Avatar image for Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

@eilegz: Fans of the originals will never enjoy this pile of FPS BS.

Avatar image for Kei_neoblood
Kei_neoblood

@Ripper_TV: I love the original trilogy, and I think this looks awesome too!

Avatar image for not-john-locke
not-john-locke

@Ripper_TV: I'm a huge fan of the originals-- REmake is my favorite-- and this is looking great to me so far.

Avatar image for brunorr
brunorr

Looks great to me even though it feels more like Amnesia than RE.

Avatar image for mysteryd
MysteryD

@computernoises: yeah really

Avatar image for thedirew0lf
theDiReW0lf

Don't like that it's being built more for vr than console. It's looks decent but lets be honest, so far there's nothing thats giving a resident evil vibe at all. Hope it's not just a first person stealth game. I know it adds to the horror factor but I always loved the 3rd person laser sight tank shooting of 4-6. Feel like this will be too easy. Idk, have to see more.

Avatar image for not-john-locke
not-john-locke

@thedirew0lf: It's not. It was in development long before VR was introduced to the game. Capcom has said that it is designed to be played on a screen, but that VR has been added as an option to those who have it. It's exactly the same game either way. And i personally think the first person view is gonna work perfectly with the return to more survival horror gameplay. But you're right-- we shall see...

Avatar image for thedirew0lf
theDiReW0lf

@not-john-locke: Ok good. I was worried because it seems whenever a game that's designed for some new device that's out, it hurts the regular console experience.

And with the first person, I need to see combat. They've confirmed there will be guns and everything but a big part of RE has been how difficult it was to shoot enemies. I loved the tank controls because you'd constantly be surrounded by zombies and were never safe. It added to the claustrophobic nature of the originals. And the laser sight in 4-6 was cool because you couldn't just easily headshot every enemy. I mean yeah it got easier with practice but having to line up your shot every time and not being able to move gave the ai time to get right up in your face.

I just hope it's not perfect aim crosshair where you can just move around and easily shoot zombies. If it is then theres nothing unique about the game anymore. Hopefully they demonstrate the combat soon and put that issue to rest.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

Looks great!!

Avatar image for Foxhound71
Foxhound71

And if it bombs we still have that Re2 remake on the way (fuuuuck yeah)

Avatar image for Foxhound71
Foxhound71

I've been playing resident evil since it first started and I think this looks pretty good. Mayyyybe they should have called it something else but we don't know enough about the story yet to say for sure. I'd like for them to talk more about that though. The story of resident evil was actually pretty interesting till 4 I thought. If they can get back that creepy feel, I'll be happy.

I love the idea of these tapes replacing the notes from the old games too.

Avatar image for leeko_link
leeko_link

I'm glad they are bringing the horror back, I just hope they don't screw it up by making it as just a direct P.T. clone.

Avatar image for omnichris
OmniChris

Of course it's impossible to please both old and new RE fans, when you make a game like this that is completely unrelated to the RE francise in everything other than its title.

Avatar image for not-john-locke
not-john-locke

@omnichris: I have a feeling that there will be plenty to tie it in with the main series. Capcom surely has something hidden up it's sleeve.

Avatar image for jark888
jark888

@omnichris: Yeah, litterally speaking, couldn't agree more ;D

Avatar image for InYourMouf
InYourMouf

Resident Evil: The Dark Descent?

Avatar image for mrfriki
mrfriki

Hide and run? Nice try but don't count of me.

Avatar image for not-john-locke
not-john-locke

@mrfriki: There's definitely going to be weapons and combat. We've already seen the inventory system, an axe, a handgun, and a shotgun(!). I think the stealth is going to mainly be in the VHS sections.

Avatar image for mysteryd
MysteryD

@computernoises: this lantern demo is supposed to be from the full game.

Avatar image for not-john-locke
not-john-locke

@mysteryd: But it's not from the main story, with the main protagonist. The VHS segments are side stories, or back stories.

Avatar image for mrfriki
mrfriki

@not-john-locke: I hope that is the case, it would be brilliant to have these first person flashbacks and the the main game more like the previous games, but a full hide and run is too much for me.

Avatar image for passarodoartico
passarodoartico

I ll try it

Avatar image for jomac3db1
jomac3db1

Meh, I think I'll pass on this one

Avatar image for jark888
jark888

@jomac3db1: Honestly, this is the first RE main game I have very little interest in. Changing sub-tittle of the game would be the best course of action in my opinion. VR will sure offer immersive experience: I have experienced the tech recently.

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