Resident Evil 7 uses VHS tapes to show players flashbacks that will flesh out the story, in addition to providing clues to solve some of the game's puzzles.
It's no secret that Resident Evil VII marks a significant departure from franchise norms with its first-person perspective, virtual reality functionality, and renewed focus on exploration and horror. In many ways, Resident Evil VII comes across as an experimental project for Capcom, which has seen the company try innovative through new things within the entry that the franchise has never done before. One of these innovations comes through with the game's storytelling, which will utilize flashbacks to flesh out the story.
Flashbacks have rarely been seen in past Resident Evil games, making their inclusion in Resident Evil VII stand out. The way that players access these flashbacks is also garnering attention, as they come in the form of VHS tapes that players can collect and watch using TVs and VCRs spread throughout the Baker family plantation. While watching these tapes, players take control of characters other than protagonist Ethan, like his missing wife, for example, as they also attempt to survive on the plantation.
Not only will these tapes offer insight into more characters and reveal some secrets about the Bakers and their sinister ways, but they will also serve a gameplay purpose. Oftentimes these VHS tapes will contain clues that will help Ethan solve puzzles in present-time, so players will want to pay close attention during these VHS flashback moments.
Those that have played the Beginning Hour demo for Resident Evil VII or its Twilight Version update should be well-acquainted with how VHS tapes will function in the final game. In the demo, a VHS tape is key to solving one of the main puzzles to help players reach the ending, and we imagine the tapes will be just as important come launch in January.
The VHS tapes also help Resident Evil VII tap into a subgenre of horror that is rarely explored in video games – found footage. Found footage horror movies have proven popular in Hollywood in recent years, with huge successes like Paranormal Activity leading the pack, and it will be interesting to see how well found footage horror translates to gaming. Players have already had a taste of it in the Beginning Hour demo as well as the Kitchen VR demo, and it seems Capcom has a decent grasp on how to create a compelling found footage experience in video game form.
While Resident Evil VII will have plenty of familiar items like green herbs and guns, new objects like the VHS tapes should help the game feel fresh and different. If the VHS tape flashbacks become popular enough, we may see similar narrative tricks appear in future Resident Evil games as well.
Resident Evil VII will be available on January 24th, 2017 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.