ScreenCritics Sam recaps Resident Evil 7’s mysterious volume tapes and offers his opinion on why the famed horror series has finally come full circle.
Resident Evil 7 has enjoyed a decent amount of hype and speculation in the gaming community thus far, approaching its marketing in a very secretive light. Rather than spilling all the beans from the beginning, Capcom have cleverly chosen to deliver its gameplay elements piece by piece in the form of short volume tapes. The final tape landed recently, and from what we’ve seen so far, Resident Evil 7 has definitely answered several questions that bothered many about the games direction and tone, confirming that it is very much a Resident Evil game at heart. Here’s an extensive look at each tape leading up to the final product.
The first tape, “Mysterious Caller”, opens up with an old telephone ringing before the main protagonist, Ethan, picks it up, only to be greeted by a familiar voice say “you really shouldn’t have come here”. While there’s no confirmation on who the mysterious caller actually is, the voice is eerily similar to that of an RE staple character, Ada Wong. How she will play into the grand scheme of things remains yet to be seen. The second tape, “Shotgun In The Box”, is exactly what the title implies. Ethan finds a shotgun concealed in a box, confirming that combat will play a vital role in the game, and a lot of fire power will be needed for perhaps the bigger threats on the plantation. It also gives us a little glimpse into the very welcomed return of limited item management. It’s a nice throwback to the first Resident Evil game where the discovery of new weapons, particularly the first shotgun, felt like a great empowerment over enemies.
Tape 3, “Recorder”, emphasizes the new save feature present in the game. Much like the notorious ink ribbons and typewriters of the first game onwards, Resident Evil 7 uses a tape recorder as its primary save point. Tape 4, “Stock Up”, shows crates which can be broken for essential items like ammo and herbs; another neat throwback to the destructible loot-holding crates from previous games. Tape 5, “Survival”, reveals that green herbs can be used in-game and combined with other items to create different healing compounds. Once again, item management is important and highly emphasized. We imagine they might be tricky to come by unlike recent installments in the series.
Tape 6, “Immortal”, is one of the more interesting tapes from the batch. Ethan is relentlessly pursued by supernatural hillbilly family man, Jack Baker, who holds back no punches in brutalizing you while you flail around with a loaded gun. After a few shots, Jack goes down and Ethan limps away, only to have good ol’ Jack stand up again prepared for round 2. Tape 7, “A Closer Look”, is uneventful, with Ethan inspecting a steel box, but it gives us an indication of how we will be able to interact and view certain items for clues, touching upon exploration and scavenging the environments. Tape 8, “Imagination”, has Ethan treading Mia’s footsteps in a familiar section of the plantation; the spider puzzle room from the Lantern gameplay demo. Ethan opens up his inventory to reveal a number of items that he can use to fit the illuminated puzzle, none to much avail. This might mean we need to do more exploring in order to find certain puzzle pieces, going back to the days of classic Resident Evil.
The next two tapes are by the far the most chilling and best encapsulate the horrors that lay ahead of us. In Tape 9, “Shadow”, Ethan battles against a lurking monster in the darkness. From the few split seconds we do get a better look at the creature, it’s very clear this may, in fact, be a familiar RE BOW (Bio-Organic Weapon) engineered by Umbrella; either a Bloodshot from Resident Evil 6 or the infamous Regenerators from Resident Evil 4 (also my pick for most terrifying enemies in the entire series). We might be entirely wrong and it will be a new monster, but this tape has confirmed the existence of other enemies in the game to battle against besides the Baker family, whom many fans feared would be the only threats. Speaking of Baker family, the final tape, “Aunt Rhody”, has Ethan climbing a flight of stairs following an old woman humming a tune we have definitely heard before; the E3 trailers’ creepy rendition of the classic folk song “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” by Burl Ives. This old woman appears to be somehow connected to the Baker family going by the name Camille. As some curious fans have pointed out, Camille may actually have ties to the Spencer family in some way, seeing how the plantation is almost designed identically to the Spencer mansion in the first Resident Evil.
With a new (and presumably final) full trailer launching in December, simply titled “Resident Evil”, we may be in for more surprises than we initially bargained for. Furthermore, we’ve seen some genuine passion from Capcom in how they’ve been handling the game, acting as a loveletter to what made the first game great and somehow appealing to a much wider demographic with its tweaked first-person gameplay mechanics which definitely was a step in the right direction for capturing horror in its purest, most unpredictable form once again. But beneath all the new improvements, at its core it’s shaping up to be a true Resident Evil game, despite initial mixed impressions from its E3 reveal this year. The king of survival horror is back, and it looks bloody terrifying. Welcome to the family, son.