Opinion: Capcom Fumbled the Resident Evil VII Demo

By | 4 months ago 

Find out how Capcom’s handling of the Resident Evil 7 Beginning Hour demo makes one Resident Evil fan less enthusiastic about the upcoming game’s full release.

When it comes to video games, movies, books, TV, or any other form of media, my favorite thematic genre is horror. And one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had with the horror genre was with the terrifying Hideo Kojima-developed P.T. For the uninitiated, P.T. was the “playable teaser” for the ill-fated Silent Hills, and its claustrophobic hallway of horrors has since inspired a number of copycats – including the upcoming Resident Evil VII.

Developers at Capcom insist that the studio had decided on the game being a first-person horror experience before P.T. was released, and that may be true. However, it’s obvious that the surprise launch of the Resident Evil VII Beginning Hour demo shortly after the game’s reveal at this year’s E3 was inspired heavily by P.T., which was released to the masses in a very similar fashion. But where P.T. left me hungry for more, I came away from the Resident Evil VII demo less excited to play the final game.

In my opinion, one reason why P.T. was so effective and creepy was because, at first, no one really knew what it was. It was just some strange, looping hallway with a haunting atmosphere, jump scares galore, and plenty of outright disturbing imagery. Only when players somehow managed to trigger the ending did it come to light that P.T. was actually a precursor to Silent Hills, but no such payoff is present in the Resident Evil VII demo.

GR Pick: Resident Evil 7 Manual Made in Old School Style - Resident Evil 7 demo kitchen

P.T.‘s mysteries resulted in gamers banding together on forums to solve its cryptic puzzles, which in turn drummed up significant interest in Silent Hills. It seems as though Capcom tried to replicate this sense of community by including a number of still unsolved mysteries in the Resident Evil VII demo, like a dummy finger that apparently does nothing, and an axe that  serves no purpose.

Twitch streamers and forum users have spent hours trying to figure out what these items do, with no success. People have tried just about everything you can think of, and many have come to the conclusion that these items do nothing. Essentially, Capcom has wasted the time of a lot of Resident Evil enthusiasts, and that may leave fans with a bitter taste in their mouth.

The pointless items are bad enough, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential issues with the Resident Evil VII demo. I also think that the teaser makes it unclear what the final Resident Evil VII game will really be like, which could make some people walk away from the demo with a misconception of the game.

For example, the Resident Evil VII demo has no combat to speak of, yet the final version of the game is said to feature both melee weapons and firearms. Players will also be able to heal themselves using herbs, as is Resident Evil tradition, but again, this gameplay mechanic is nowhere to be found in the demo. I think by omitting these gameplay features, it will make some people think that Resident Evil VII is exactly like the demo:  a “walking simulator” game with a very light puzzle element.

Resident Evil 7 Demo's Unsolved Mysteries - Residetn Evil 7 demo axe

Since the gameplay from the demo won’t be in the full game, it’s no surprise that such important gameplay features are omitted. What this means, though, is that Capcom went out of its way to create this demo for Resident Evil VII, and probably justified the cost to create it by assuming it would generate positive buzz for the game. If I hadn’t made it clear enough already, I think that it may have the opposite effect, and instead make consumers more cautious when it comes to purchasing it this coming January.

Now, to be fair to Capcom and the demo, it does manage to showcase some of the important new features in the game. For example, Resident Evil VII‘s first-person viewpoint, perhaps the biggest change it is making to the franchise formula, is on full display in the demo. Having said that, it is somewhat difficult to see how the style of puzzles in the demo could be stretched into a full video game, but there’s at least some potential there.

Resident Evil VII‘s demo has some things going for it, but overall, I think the way Capcom has presented it may prove problematic to the future success of the full version of the game. By including useless items and not being upfront with fans about their uselessness, Capcom may have inadvertently frustrated some of its more dedicated fans. Furthermore, the game’s omission of important gameplay features like combat may make some think that the game is just another run of the mill walking simulator, and not the AAA blockbuster release that it probably is. For now, I am holding out hope that the final product doesn’t disappoint, but after spending significant time with the Resident Evil VII Beginning Hour demo, I’m not exactly holding my breath.

Resident Evil VII will be available on January 24th, 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, and Xbox One.