We dined with the disgusting Baker Family at Capcom’s Resident Evil 7 booth at Tokyo Game Show today, and here’s our first-hand account!
It’s been four long years since the last mainline entry in Capcom’s mega-successful zombie-shootin’ Resident Evil franchise, and the recent surprise announcement of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard met with a considerable amount of confusion, doubt, and concern among hardcore fans. The Resident Evil series, (known as Biohazard in Japan), which has traditionally utilized a third-person viewpoint to present the events of its games in a cinematic fashion, has seemingly switched to first-person for this newest entry in the series, a decision which seems to have been made with the Playstation VR‘s capacities in mind.
▼ The game’s creepy Louisiana mansion artwork was all over Tokyo Game Show today.
With a series so beloved as Resident Evil (which turned 20 years old this year), it’s always a risk when bold design choices are made which force the games in a direction many fans aren’t accustomed to or initially comfortable with. The last such shift occurred with Resident Evil 4 in 2005, which took the hugely bold move of dispensing with the series’ traditional shambling zombies and fixed camera angles to have players battling mutating parasitic monsters from an over-the-shoulder, action-packed perspective. It could have been a colossal failure, but it wasn’t – it was (and remains) arguably one of the finest video games ever made, heavily influencing the third-person shooter genre as a whole and propelling the franchise to even higher sales than ever before. Surely Capcom can pull off the same kind of miraculous bait and switch a second time around?
▼ Capcom’s creepy mansion booth facade was VERY cool.
▼ Jack Baker, aka The Family Man, was also in attendance, wielding his trusty spade, with which he’s shown breaking through walls to reach the player on footage we saw playing on screens outside the booth. Nightmare fodder.
At Tokyo Game Show this year, I had a chance to find out for myself whether the game was going to be worth the hype. While Capcom have been steadily teasing us with maddeningly vague tidbits from the upcoming game in the form of a cryptic reveal trailer at E3 almost immediately followed by a short and deliberately provocative playable teaser known as “Beginning Hour” (dummy finger, anyone?), as well as the brief hide-and-go-seek “Lantern Lady” teaser, I really haven’t seen enough to feel, well, reassured about the series’ new change in direction. And with previous action-packed entries Resident Evil 5 and 6 being Capcom’s all-time best and second best-selling games, respectively, I wasn’t quite convinced that taking the series in a new direction was really the wisest move. I have to admit to also not being a big fan of the first-person perspective in games in general, but that’s my own issue. Despite these concerns, as a lifetime fan of the games, I was practically foaming at the mouth for the opportunity to test out the game myself in VR.
Unfortunately, the popularity of the exhibit meant that it took 60 minutes waiting in line for even the non-VR experience. With only five stations set up for the actual VR experience, you’re going to have to be really dedicated to snag one of those coveted spots on the weekend’s public days.
▼ A new trailer was played on the screen shown below, featuring plenty of as-yet-unseen footage of the game.
▼ Those playing VR had to do so with an audience.
▼ Let’s hope they all brought a change of pants.
▼ The helpful staff on hand guide you through the VR setup and will also help you out during the regular demo too if you get stuck.
I opted to join the queue for the non-VR version of the demo, which took place inside the spooky mansion setup itself.
After shuffling inside through a haunted-house style corridor complete with jets of compressed air and spooky sound effects, my fellow fans and I took up our spots in front of the twenty or so TV screens equipped with versions of the demo. When the game began, I was disappointed to realize that I was playing an extended version of the “Lantern Lady” demo, which I had already seen footage of. I’d been hoping for a new demo for Tokyo Game Show, perhaps showing combat. Instead, I found myself running and hiding from the definitely scary hag Marguerite Baker, seemingly a major antagonist in the game’s story.
While I entered the play testing area with the most open of minds, I was unfortunately disappointed by the actual gameplay of the demo. Within the allotted fifteen minutes, I found myself repeatedly caught by Marguerite, bludgeoned by her, and faced with an annoying “YOU FAILED” screen. Having to repeat the gameplay over and over to learn Marguerite’s movement patterns was frustrating, as was my character’s painfully slow running speed. And Marguerite’s insane babblings quickly began to grate on my nerves, especially because of all of the profanity she was hurling at my character. I don’t recall being verbally attacked with F bombs and the B word in any Resident Evil game I’ve played in the last 20 years, and to be honest, it sort of gives me a sad. And although I managed to find my way to a puzzle involving a spider statue rather quickly, she caught up with me again in the basement soon after solving said puzzle. The demo ended soon after, with my protagonist being fed a handful of guts and entrails at a nauseating dinner banquet held by the cannibalistic and sadistic Baker family. Again, all of the screaming and swearing hurt my ears and made me a little glad I hadn’t decided to play in VR. It was certainly a scary, unsettling experience, but I just didn’t feel that it was very fun to play.
▼ Marguerite Baker, right, takes offense when the player vomits up her entrail stew, and throws a decidedly unsettling tantrum. Meanwhile, Jack Baker (center) snaps his son, Lucas’ (second left) arm clean off, which Lucas oddly doesn’t seem too fazed by. And you thought your in-laws were bad.
For all of my gripes about the demo, I’m still hoping that the game itself will live up to the series’ long legacy. Fifteen minutes is barely long enough to get more than a taste of what the game will have to offer. Besides, there’s yet more exciting news coming up on Resident Evil 7 soon, with Capcom’s stage show on Saturday (which will be live-streamed online for those who can’t make the show) heavily featuring the new game, and an updated version of the Beginning Hour demo now being made available for download on Playstation 4. From snippets shown on the screen outside of the booth as well, the game clearly has so much more to offer than what the teasers Capcom has thrown us so far would suggest.
Perhaps like the Baker Family, Capcom are only feeding us the scraps to give us a taste for the flesh, with the real banquet to follow when the game is released on January 24 next year.
Another reason to play the demo – you get this sweet Resident Evil bag afterwards!
Don’t forget to also pick up your copy of Capcom’s guide, featuring a several-page spread on Resident Evil 7 including never-before-seen screenshots and interviews with the developers, including Masachika Kawata, whom we spotted around the booth!
There’s also some exclusive Resident Evil 7 merchandise on sale in the merchandise area, which we’ll show more of in an upcoming post.
So, are you excited for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard? What do you think about the change to the first-person view?
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