[Originally posted on When Nerds Attack.]
“You’re about to see something wonderful.” Jack’s freshly charred skin is peeling off his body. But he’s still alive, and strong. He’s clutching your wrist, pulling it to his face. He wraps his mouth around the handgun you just plucked from the desiccated cop now lying dead on the floor. With a resounding pop, a chasm erupts from the top of his skull. His body falls limply to the ground. You survived, but you didn’t win. Jack will be back. He deliberately ate a bullet just to prove a point.
It’s been a long time since Resident Evil has scared me. For the better part of a decade, Capcom remodeled the franchise that coined “Survival Horror” into gun-centric action games meant to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Familiar draws were included to bait fans that remember the fixed perspective, tank controlled days of yesteryear — whether it was tangential ties to the sinister Umbrella Corporation, hulking bio-weapons, or the franchise synonymous living dead. More often than not, though, these nostalgic additions felt like window dressing. While latter day sequels like Resident Evil 6 coated their levels in shadows and foreboding atmosphere, at their core, they were third-person shooters. True horror, the kind that the original trilogy is lauded for to this day, was left behind.
With Resident Evil 7, Capcom has finally returned to the franchise’s roots. It takes inspiration not only from its own past but from other stand-out horror experiences in order to rework and revitalize the genre they helped inform. The result is an expertly paced, incredibly tense hell-ride through a literal madhouse — and it’s actually pretty goddamn scary. Long-time fans have been yearning to hear this for years: Resident Evil 7 is pure survival horror.
A Look Back at the Horror Franchise’s Gun-centric Releases
2016 marks Resident Evil’s 20th Anniversary and publisher Capcom has been celebrating all year long. The company announced a new sequel in Resident Evil VII which vibes as a huge course-correction for the franchise, seeing a return to the original game’s core tenants of environmental exploration, resource management, and hard horror. PS4 owners can download a playable glimpse of the future (which I’ve talked about repeatedly).
Capcom’s also released a new spin-off, Umbrella Corps, a game that proves sometimes a good idea on paper can lead to the virtual equivalent of a burning bag of shit on your doorstep. More successfully, they’ve been mining Resident Evil’s past, re-releasing oldies on current platforms. Resident Evil 0 saw a solid HD re-treatment in the vein of last year’s superb REmake Remaster. Beyond that, Capcom has also spent a string of summer month’s re-releasing uprezzed versions of Resident Evil’s “Action Trilogy” – a trifecta of RE4, 5, and 6.
Though these departures from the franchise’s perceived formula created a rift between old school fans and the new laser-pointed generation, one thing’s inarguable: the Action Trilogy helped push Resident Evil into the mainstream spotlight. Resident Evil 5, for instance, is not merely the top selling game in the series. It’s the best selling game in Capcom’s history. Not Mega Man. Not Street Fighter. Resident Evil 5. And taking second place silver? Resident Evil 6 – a game that some publications can’t write about without preceding it with “the divisive.”
Removed from their hype cycles and marketing blitzes, I re-played each game in the action arc as they’ve been released, beginning with 6 and ending on late August’s RE4. Below, I quickly break down what these game’s were when they launched and how they fare now in order to figure out if these titles really deserve the shit that’s been heaped on them since.
Resident Evil VII – Capcom Reveals a Chilling New Trailer + An Update to the Beginning Hour Demo
With Tokyo Game Show commencing today, Capcom’s got a full range of new horrors on display. Starting with another trailer (which you can peep below), “TAPE-2″ shows a host of new environments, some less dilapidated than others, and a creepy ass family sit down with the Baker clan. The footage isn’t all force-feeding and games, though, as we’re treated to our first glimpse at the game’s first-person combat. The trailer proves this drastic departure isn’t entirely abandoning its gun-centric roots.
Additionally, the game’s planned $79.99 Deluxe Edition, which includes a season pass covering two playable episodes is now tossing in a third episode, upping the version’s price to $89.99. If you already pre-ordered the PSN digital edition, you’re covered; no extra cost will be incurred. What’s in the three episodes? No clue. Though it’s probably a safe bet to assume we’ll be playing through more “tapes” like the one found in the demo.
Speaking of the demo, the PS Plus exclusive is not only being made available to all PS4 owners tomorrow, it’s getting an update. The “Twilight” version of the demo will allow players to explore previously inaccessible parts of the Baker mansion. If there isn’t a way to use that goddamn dummy finger, expect to see several Twitch streams of people fucking exploding.
Resident Evil VII - New Screens, New Trailer, New Deranged Family Member
Capcom has pulled back a little more of the veil on their dying-in-a-farmhouse simulator, Resident Evil VII, at Gamescom.
In addition to the screens above – which shows us even more of the Baker homestead’s untidy charm – a new gameplay trailer depicts an unknown female protagonist desperately fleeing one Marguerite Baker (you know, Jack’s wife). The gameplay appears to be another playable VHS recording like the one found in the demo – RE7′s modern spin on discovering files.
Who is the woman behind this tape? Just how many people have broken into the Dulvey mansion and filmed their own demises? Will the VR version keep making players sick? We’ll find out in January.