There’s big changes ahead for Resi as the next game, Resident Evil 7, jumps to a first person view and introduces a new hero, locations and monsters. However, the teasers we’ve seen so far via two separate demos - Beginning Hour and Lantern - have posed more questions than they’ve answered. These are 6 things we need clearing up.
At the moment, your guess as good as ours. The first demo, Beginning Hour, showed a supernatural TV show called Sewer Gators investigating the Dulvey Haunted House in the new Louisiana location. The second demo, Lantern, follows a woman called Mia trying to escape a screaming lamp-waving lady in another house. An ESRB leak has confirmed that the story will follow a man called Ethan looking for his missing wife - who appears to be Mia, as she mentions an Ethan in the Lantern demo. However, what that means in the frame of a numbered, canon Resident Evil sequel is still unclear. The same leak also references ‘mutant creatures’ making it unclear if we’re getting zombies, Las Plagas, J’avo. Or something else. Which leads to our next question...
Director Kōshi Nakanishi has said that 7 “isn’t a reboot and won’t throw away the series’ canonical storyline” while adding that “it’s the new numbered title in the series and a sequel to the existing titles”. Capcom are being super cagey about giving anything away but we do know it takes place in the present day, after the events of Resident Evil 6. That would potentially bring the C-virus into play, which is the one that causes zombie-like mutation while letting people keep their minds more or less intact.
That might explain the more human enemies we’ve seen so far. The Lantern demo also includes a classically bizarre old-school Resi puzzle involving a rock you have to move, to make a shadow in the shape of a spider to open a secret passage. And, while first person might seem a million miles away from the original game, producer Masachika Kawata says “the more intimate scale of first person will bring survival horror back to it’s roots and let people feel what we felt when we first played Resident Evil 1 20 years ago”.
We’ve met Jack Baker as the punchy man in the Beginning Hour demo and, more recently Marguerite, his wife, swinging a lamp in the Lantern one. There’s also an as yet unseen son called Lucas who’s been referred to as ‘the bad seed’. Both demos and marketing keep referring to the tag line ‘Welcome to the family’ which doesn’t sound like a good thing considering Jack and Marguerite’s slightly killy behaviour. The events of Resident Evil 7 seem to kick off with the disappearance of these two, and producer Masachika Kawata confirms they are “two very important characters in the game” BUT also states that they’re “not the only important characters” and adds that “there’s a lot more to come in terms of what sort of story details will revolve around these two”.
We’ve not only yet to see the main character, we’ve also yet to play as them despite two playable demos. But thanks to that ESRB leak we know he’s called Ethan. The brief description states: “This is a survival-horror game in which players assume the role of Ethan, a man searching for his missing wife in a derelict mansion”. This ties in with director Kōshi Nakanishi’s statement that the new character will be “a normal protagonist” and “powerless, ordinary person”. He explains that "we're getting back to basics - in Resident Evil 1 Chris was not a comic book hero. He was a special forces agent but he wasn't as advanced a fighter as later in the series”.
Resi has always classically been a third person combat experience, so how that will transfer to first person will be interesting. The Beginning Hour demo featured an axe with a basic swing and block move, suggesting we could be getting a simple melee system. That ever handy ESRB leak also clarifies the following: “from a first-person perspective, players explore the environment and use pistols, shotguns, flamethrowers, explosives and chainsaws to kill mutant creatures. Combat is accompanied by realistic gunfire, screams of pain, and exaggerated blood-splatter effects”. Talk from Capcom has suggested that Resi 7 won’t be a full on shooter experience and Ethan won’t be a weapons expert but it’s clear there’s going to be plenty of action on the way.
One of Resi 7’s biggest mysteries is a strange severed finger with a key like appendage that appeared in the Beginning Hour demo. So far fans haven’t been able to find a use for it, with many suspecting it opens the way to a secret ending. Capcom has hinted heavily that we’ll find out more at this year’s Tokyo Games Show and our money’s on a patch appearing around that time that will finally make the finger do something and reveal its secrets. There’s definitely something else to come as producer Masachika Kawata has said that “maybe in the near future you might find some new details about the finger so keep your eyes and ears open”.