Thursday, December 8, 2016

Resident Evil 7: A Bold New Frontier

It's right around the corner, now. Capcom seems to have taken criticism of Resident Evil 6 to heart and gone back to a focus on horror and exploration. The caveat, however, is that they've essentially rebooted the series' gameplay and presentation. The tonal shift back to horror was expected - they'd been hinting at it for some time - but I don't think anyone expected the first person perspective, more down to earth character designs, or general disconnect from previous entry staples (characters, institutions, enemies). The game no doubt takes influence from the massively well received P.T. teaser for Silent Hills, perhaps capitalizing on the outrage felt from its cancellation. It also, from what I've gathered, uses VR as a selling point.

I see a lot of hype for this game. People are excited. It's "the next best thing" after Silent Hills was cancelled.

I'm not really excited.

For me, Resident Evil was about the B-movie camp, the recurring characters, and the third person gameplay. Revelations 2 is everything I ever wanted from the series. I never cared much about the shift from horror-survival to horror-action, but that title seemed to reach a nice balance between the two. When I heard RE7 was going even further back to survival roots, I thought "hey, cool - it'll be like the first few games again." What we're getting isn't Resident Evil - it's a re-imagining of the series most basic concepts into something entirely different. It's as if they took Resident Evil's - the first game, not the series - design philosophy, boiled it down to its most basic concepts of horror, survival, and exploration, and rebuilt it from the ground up. A lot of people dig that, and that's cool. I feel a bit let down by what we've seen.

Having said that, I'm not angry at all that Capcom has decided to do what they've done. P.T. obviously had its fans, the RE7 demo has its fans, and they did need to take a new direction after the critical reception of RE6. I'm not going to be out there saying Capcom shot themselves in the foot or boycotting their game because it's not what I wanted. I still plan to give it a shot. I am, however, a little disappointed. I'm looking forward to the RE2 remake much more than I am RE7.

The presence of iconic, stylized characters that the franchise is known for is sorely missing from Capcom's latest entry.
I took this subject to the NeoGAF forums. What are other people's opinions on the game, now that we are approximately one month out from release?

Spinky: I have no idea what to think.

It feels like Resident Evil, but at the same time it totally doesn't. The Bakers don't scare me, or Jack doesn't at least. The atmosphere (or lack of) doesn't do much for me, either.

I also have a hard time looking past the first-person perspective because I've never really been a big fan of it.

The full game has the potential to be quite a bit better, and I'll buy it day one, but right now I just don't know.

DarkChronic: Great. I haven't played any of the demos, because I want to go in dark, but I'm getting the vibe it will be a "poor man's" P.T. I don't mean that as a bad thing, necessarily. I'm really excited for this and hope it turns out terrific.

shorty_symd: I think it's a good move that they went into a different direction after Resident Evil 6's disappointment. It happened before when Resident Evil 4 came out and - I believe - the reason we got the version of Resident Evil 4 that we all know was because the Resident Evil REmake on Gamecube didn't do financially well which resulted in the change of direction.

My main concern with Resident Evil 7 is whether they get the VR right becuase the demo I tried in E3 this year was very very unpolished. It was quite unfinished. Please tell me that you've worked hard on it, Capcom! Really wanna play it on VR.

Senoculum: Hyped beyond belief. It's gonna be so good. And the new direction is not only refreshing, but totally welcomed in my camp. And I brought it up before in another thread, but it seems like it's structured similarly to Capcom's Haunting Ground. You're stuck in a house/castle with an assortment of twisted members of some family. At every main stage you're being hunted by one of the members (and they were delightfully frightening).

I do wish there was a multiplayer component. Imagine a First Person Outbreak File 3? Damn.

Mupod: Zero interest, as someone who likes both old and new RE. Absolutely nothing they've shown so far looks like a game I want to play. Maybe RE6 wasn't the right direction, but neither is just pandering to modern horror game trends and making first person, run-from-everything youtuber bait. If this isn't how the game actually is, as people keep claiming, then it's their fault for misrepresenting it. And they're still doing so this close to release. So for now, I will wait and see.

Revelations 2 was closer to what I want in spirit, but wasn't there in practice. In particular, I was really happy that they took away enemy item drops, forcing you to explore the environment...and not only that, you had to consider leaving stuff behind for the other playable characters. Having seen the direction they took, I'd rather they have put more budget into that series than make whatever this is.

miladesn: I can't say I have a modicum of interest in this direction, but even if I did, it doesn't look like a particularly good or fun game. I can't see it selling very well either, looking quite niche at best. The game is coming in a month, and it sure doesn't feel that RE7 is coming. That's my impression. They needed to do something new, it's true. But I don't believe this is even close to what they had to do.

Zero-ELEC, on the franchise's penchant for constant change: Y'all wanna know the history of RE3 and 4?

Credit to ParallelTraveler, over at the RE Wiki.
Shit went through some phases.

The decision to go first person has resulted in many mixed impressions from fans of the series.
Overall, impressions seem to be very mixed, ranging from "Super excited" to "I'll give it a chance" to "I HATE IT!" Amidst the gambit of varying opinions, resident self proclaimed horror enthusiast Dusk Golem had perhaps the most insightful commentary on what to expect from the game.

Dusk Golem: I think a lot of people get so caught up in superficial things about the game that they can't see the bigger picture. At this point, I doubt they will until the full game is out.

Some get caught-up in the fact it's in first-person, some get caught up about the Bakers being stalkers, and others get caught up on little things like the demo's cryptic puzzle, or comparisons to other games on a superficial level, etc.

I've said this for months, and it's only solidified with time: I think this game will surprise a lot of people with what it actually is, so many people see a part of it and think the whole is like that part they're focused on. As a result, they miss the bigger picture of what RE7 actually has going for it. We won't know fully until we know, but I think too many people have too many pre-judgments at play here, either to the series itself, to first-person horror, to stalker gameplay (which, by the way, RE7 is not a hide'n'sneak game), or some other element.

I think RE7 will turn out to be something truly special, and very unlike many think it'll be. I think it'll feel more like RE than many think it will. I've said this for a while, but if you just think about how what's shown plays a bit more in-depth, I think it's pretty easy to see. It's very different than most other first-person horrors, those get grouped a lot as all the same but there is a lot more going on in that scene than many think (saying this as someone who plays a lot of newer and older horror games), and I think RE7 will stand as fairly unique among them.

I think it will review quite well, and people who play it may be very surprised, but part of me thinks the impact may be greater because of how people treat it before release. I hope it sells well since it's a big risk on Capcom's part, and I hope the risk turns out well for them.

I almost want to say the general public are very bad at judging horror games before they play them. There's so many examples I could pull out of games people have all these misconceptions for that end up being surprise hits. I think it's because too many people have loaded emotions about the genre they let color their take on things which means they only see aspects of the games through a narrow lens and sort of tune out everything else going on about it until they play it themselves.

The Bakers are a family of antagonists that take center stage in Resident Evil 7. Varying members of the family will supposedly take center stage in the game's multiple environments, with a different member repeatedly hunting you down in each area.

In the end, even after Dusk Golem's enthusiastic defense of the game, I still can't help but feel like it doesn't seem like Resident Evil. I'm not really a horror fan - I've always liked the Resident Evil series by proxy, so the loss of comic book camp and recognizable characters is a huge negative for me. Time will tell if this is truly the case as reviews and user impressions begin to trickle out, but as of right now, I can sum up my feelings towards this game in one word: Disinterest. 

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