Back in June I proclaimed Resident Evil is dead, primarily because of the identity crisis the series went through starting with Resident Evil 4. That later led to the insulting mess that was Resident Evil 6, and now a seemingly drastic new direction for Resident Evil 7. Thus, the series as we knew it seemed doomed, but… maybe there’s still some life left in this old zombie after all?
First and foremost, let’s imagine RE7 really is trash Capcom threw together after Konami’s P.T. demo for Silent Hills got people talking. Would it be that big of a deal? The numbered games are only half of what comprises the series and, if I’m honest, aren’t the ones I look forward to playing the most.
Let me explain.
There are well over 20 RE titles in the series to date, and that’s not even counting a plethora of old mobile games. Considering the main series consists of only seven (diehard fans will correct me on that, but just wait!), that’s a pretty substantial number of alternative sources for survival horror goodness. But are they any good? Mostly.
There are a few massive stinkers, like the abysmal Operation: Raccoon City, and the misguided (but fun if given a chance) Umbrella Corps multiplayer shooter. However, on the whole some of my favorite experiences come from these side games. Code: Veronica X is probably the most loved, and yes, I know it was supposed to be a main game — but there’s no number in the title! #DealWithIt. I would also consider Revelations and Revelations 2 two of the best, while Outbreak and Outbreak File #2 are both adored and have fans begging for remasters… for which I mistakenly got everyone’s hopes up. Sorry. I screwed the pooch! Twice. Yeah, I suck…
Point is, while Capcom couldn’t decide whether the numbered games should be moody and scary, or fast-paced and explosive, there were still glimmers of hope. Both for longtime fans like myself, and also relative newcomers who had no idea what the hell was happening in RE5 and RE6. If RE7 drops in January and doesn’t meet high expectations… it probably won’t matter much, unless bad sales numbers sink the whole ship.
Remasters and Remakes
Let’s also not forget Capcom’s propensity for releasing remasters and remakes. If something new totally tanks and leaves them scrambling, they still have plenty of past successes to revive and present to us in new packaging. A lot of people hate the trend of remasters that became so abundant with this generation, but personally I love being able to have my favorites on one platform.
Resident Evil: Origin Collection (reviewed here) is the perfect example of this. When RE6 failed to meet Capcom’s lofty sales goals and was instead met with almost universal critical derision, it regrouped by releasing remasters of two slower survival horror classics: Resident Evil (a 2002 remake of the original) and Resident Evil: Zero. As a result, Capcom now
blames attributes the unexpectedly high sales figures of those remasters to its decision to make RE7 so different from the three titles that came before. So whether or not it’s a good game, at least Capcom is trying to listen to its fans… somewhat.
Also worth noting is the fact that a Resident Evil 2 remake is in the works. We don’t know any specifics at this time, though it presumably will resemble the classic version to at least some degree (ideally with the static camera angles intact). If the very different RE7 flops but the RE2 remake is a rousing success, a hypothetical Resident Evil 8 could be a true return to form.
Paul W.S. Anderson’s live-action film adaptations of the series are always a tremendous treat for fans of the games. His devotion to the source material, knowledge of its lore, and intuitive understanding of the characters makes each of these movies great in their own right, but amazing as a never ending string of sequels…
…And I just vomited in my mouth a little bit. Yeah, I hate those movies so very, very much. The superpowered character of Alice (played by Anderson’s wife, Milla Jovovich) most of all. Look, these movies are terrible (although each has something I like, though it hurts to admit) but they aren’t the only option for fans.
Capcom and Sony Pictures have been putting out some fun, straight-to-home-video CGI Resident Evil movies for years now. Beginning with Degeneration, later Damnation, and now the upcoming Vendetta. They aren’t perfect, mind you — the characterization of Leon was iffy in the first, and the action was pretty over-the-top in the second. But at least the director didn’t feel the need to insert his wife into the plots, and there was no “a virus dried up all the world’s water” nonsense. That’s a win. Plus, Vendetta is said to be much more of a horror movie than its predecessors, and also heralds the return of fan-favorite medic Rebecca Chambers. We haven’t seen her since the live stage play in Japan… but that, my friends, is an article for another day. Foreshadowing!
Resident Evil 7
Now we circle back to what drove me to write that previous editorial. On its surface, RE7 appeared to throw away damn-near everything identifiable about the series. We were handed a “walking simulator” demo that Capcom adamantly declared was not part of the full game, but continued to update and tweak with new features. Capcom then created a second demo, one that is said to be included in the full game, and also lacks combat… but somehow isn’t meant to represent it. Huh? Talk about mixed signals!
Since then, a series of viral marketing clips were released to fans (which you can see here, here, and here) designed to nullify the skepticism. Though each one lasts only a matter of seconds, those snippets brings to light a core essence from earlier games in the series.
Firearms are definitely in the game, with severely limited quantities of ammunition. Save rooms are making a grand return (albeit with tape recorders rather than typewriters), along with item storage boxes. Health is once again monitored via a traditional EKG meter (visible on a wristwatch), and the Bakers will serve as unkillable (and recurring) enemies to chase you through the game like Mr. X or Nemesis. We knew that last bit, but what we didn’t know was whether or not there would be other enemies populating the mansion — which the “Shadow” clip finally proved.
However, these revelations were not totally unexpected. All of these were predicted when an individual going by “AvidExpert” leaked some information several months ago. The best part? There’s more. I didn’t believe it at first, and decided not to report on it… but it’s time. SPOILERS AHEAD, so feel free to skip to the final paragraph. You’ve been warned.
As seen over at Rely On Horror, AvidExpert made very specific claims prior to these clips.
- A Swiss army knife will be the first weapon in the game, and is also used as a multi-tool for various purposes. The first part of this remains to be seen, but the rest was confirmed in the “Stock Up” clip. While every RE game starts you off with a knife, that wasn’t a safe bet with RE7. He also correctly identified the Swiss army knife, which is a notable change from the combat knives of previous games.
- There will be enemies to fight other than the Baker family. I mentioned it earlier, but this was not an obvious assumption based on the marketing material prior to those clips. AvidExpert went on to mention the return of large, mutant bosses — and specifically called out a behemoth fought in a submerged location, much like RE4’s Del Lago. That is certainly something to look forward to!
- Elements will seem very supernatural at first, but will be given greater explanation later in the plot. This one was a bit vague and easy enough to guess, as the series is based more in the world of (pseudo) science with no basis in the occult whatsoever. However, the ghostly, teleporting girl visible in The Beginning Hour demo certainly seemed to denote a change. After AvidExpert made his claim, a Capcom representative later confirmed that there are no ghosts in the game, and that any supernatural components will receive a scientific explanation. Sounds like another correct statement.
While those could seem coincidental or easily gleamed from the miniscule marketing material from that time, AvidExpert went on to reveal information about a wheelchair-bound member of the Baker family, and specifically referred to her as Camille. Some time after, scans from an issue of Famitsu confirmed exactly that…and one other vital piece of information. (UPDATE: Yeah, #4 wasn’t true after all)
By all accounts, RE7 seemed poised to serve as a reboot of the series — one set in the same continuity of prior games, yet entirely separate. One major aspect of Resident Evil is the rotating cast of characters who have survived increasingly diabolic bioterrorist attacks; people with whom gamers have grown quite attached. RE7 looked to discard them entirely, but AvidExpert went so far as to claim Chris Redfield himself would show up sometime before the credits rolled — with some friends, no less!
This, too, was confirmed by the Famitsu magazine scans which were translated by a fan called “Kane-Fire” as seen in this thread, along with other scan translations.
**END OF SPOILERS**
So, things don’t seem quite so different after all. If the above leaks truly pan out, Resident Evil 7 will be less like a hide n’ seek game ala Outlast, and more like Alien: Isolation with enough familiar RE trappings to make any fan perk up. With that said, maybe things don’t look quite so dire — but we’ve got our eye on you, Capcom!