Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour feels like a fresh start for a tired series

By Matt Martin, Tuesday, 14 June 2016 12:55 GMT

Capcom rips up Resident Evil and starts again.

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Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour feels like a fresh start for a tired series

The rumours were true then, and better still, a playable tease for Resident Evil 7 – in first-person! – is live on the PlayStation store for you to download.

Resident Evil has felt stale for some time, and there’s been enough misfires in the series and its spin-offs to cloud its legacy as one of the original horror games that helped form a genre. Some fans are already complaining this is not a “real Resident Evil” game because it’s in first-person or doesn’t feature Jill or classic (awkward) controls.

Tough shit, I say. You don’t get to say what is and isn’t Resident Evil. You get to play someone else’s vision of what a horror game can me. Your opinion of what it should be doesn’t matter. Rip it up and start again, Capcom. Let’s see what you can do.

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The easiest and obvious comparison is to Konami’s doomed P.T. teaser for Silent Hills. Both released immediately after a reveal, both take a beloved survival horror game into first-person, both trap you in small house and leave you to explore uneasily.

But this isn’t as creepy or odd as P.T. and it has Resident Evil’s blood running through it. You need to find a way out of the house. A door is locked. A fuse is missing. You’ll have to backtrack. There are cryptic notes. The lid on a piano slams shut. It even has a clunky menu so you should feel right at home.

There are cliches too, from broken children’s toys to a couple of Blair Witch moments. But they don’t distract from an accomplished horror atmosphere, enhanced by some beautifully subtle lighting and a willingness to at one point play with the concept of time. It’s a little bit weirder than you think it’s going to be.

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It’s unsettling in the right way and intriguing enough to explore. Tentatively. In that case, it’s doing it’s job as a horror game. It mixes revulsion at the cockroaches and dead animals, the trepidation of putting one foot in front of the other armed with only weak torch light, the nervous jokes of a partner scared to go first and the muffled noises of something in the next room. You’ll be expecting something to happen every time you open a door or enter a new room and when it doesn’t it’s a little relief.

There’s enough mystery to try it again once it abruptly ends. You’ll experience something different a second time. For a short demo it raises plenty of questions that will only be answered in early 2017 when the game releases, and it does a good job of giving us something to look forward to.

When Resident Evil 7 is released it’s going to be playable entirely in VR. That’s a daunting prospect as anyone who’s played The Kitchen demo will attest to. It’s interesting to see some of The Kitchen cut into this demo, but it seems even without the isolation and intimacy of VR, Resident Evil 7 could be a truly terrifying game. I’m more than willing to give that a go.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is out January 24, 2017, on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour is out now on PSN.

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