|In times as divided as these, Jack Baker welcomed us all into the family|
A while back I wrote about the state of the Resident Evil franchise and how absolutely bonkers it had gotten. The laser precise focus on over-the-top QTE action and huge explosions while the fate of the world hangs in the balance, compared to the olden days of just good ol' fashioned isolated horror(Except from all those games that sorta took place in a big city and had it not been nuked could have potentially ended the human race but whatever let's just leave that out for now).
While I may still be hypocritical for not having played the original games enough to comment on the state of the franchise, I have watched many a speedruns for these games, and have a pretty good idea on the expert level of craft put into them from the earliest entry, as well as the intricacies(Or lack thereof) for the narrative.
I missed out on those games originally because of being a huge pussy, but starting at RE4 I made the jump into the franchise and have been with it ever since. Even... Even through RE6 which I made my thoughts pretty clear on in my original discussion.
But with the release of Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Resident Evil 7, I can safely say that the conflict I had been feeling before is gone.
Actual SpookyThe sheer atmosphere that surrounds you in Resident Evil 7 is almost suffocating. I found my way slowly inching forward at almost every turn upon arriving in the Guest House because after playing the demo, I had no idea what to expect. After getting the ever loving shit jumpscared out of me for most of the entire duration, I found my way in the main house.
After getting out I managed to run into Mr. Jack Baker and had to run the fuck away from him for a while even though I wasn't sure what to do. I eventually figured it out, at the cost of my leg, and then found myself in the "save room", a place where enemies cannot hurt you. After dealing with Jack and finding your way further into the house, I always came back to the save room to, well, save my game. But upon leaving the room, there's a sound effect that triggers occasionally of the boarded up wall next to you and it sounds like someone's knocking on it.
All of the game has creepy sound effects and noises that pierce that suffocating atmosphere that makes you feel so isolated and vulnerable. And that's what's so fucking great about the game. Just the fact that RE6 starts up with a comical almost-slapstick(Although taking itself dead serious) QTE sequence of Leon trying to fly a helicopter while an entire city and millions of zombies roam the streets, RE7 starts up with a low intensity cutscene of a man driving across the country to find his 3-years-missing wife, and making his way through an old dilapidated house. The scariest thing you've got to watch out for is tetanus. At least until shit hits the fan.
It's more about the build up to the tension than starting you out with a boss fight or something else. It slowly ramps up and peaks during key moments of "OH FUCK WHAT NO". It's nice to not just see that Capcom have learned their lesson, but to feel it by playing through the game and experiencing actual fear.
Adherence To A Smaller ScaleWhile both Resident Evil Revelations 1 and 2 showed some kind of rare restraint from Capcom, even during the time where Capcom saw the key to success as "Bigger budget, more action!", it is a wonderful return to form to see a much smaller scale from not a spin-off, but the actual main entry in their franchise. The market would agree as well, with Resident Evil 7 being I believe just one million shipments short of their sales estimates. They've also already made their development budget back.
The small scale, compared, of course, to RE6's world shaking globe-trotting adventure that saw 7 different playable characters race around the world, thwarting resistance groups, fighting giant monsters, and even assaulting an entire air force from within a fighter jet (oh my fucking god I hate that game), is a welcome addition back into the franchise from earlier games.
Because of the small scale they are able to rely more on atmosphere and setting. When you're walking back and forth between the same locations over and over, you become familiar with the area. You feel safe, or as safe as you can in the moment. So when you end up walking back into a room after a while and suddenly there are enemies where there wasn't, the tension is turned up rapidly and panic sets in. Suddenly that safe feeling is washed away and replaced with that good old uncertainty that makes you stop and listen to any sudden noises and constantly look over your shoulder, afraid of what's around every corner.
It Really HappenedFans have been clamoring for a return to form for the series for a long time. And while I've certainly played all of the major games leading up to RE7, I've never been a real "diehard" fan. My fandom always lied with Metal Gear. But I've been communicating with a lot of these diehard fans recently and they are all just as surprised and excited for the franchise. They didn't expect: 1, for Capcom to actually scale it back down and put such a focus on the horror aspect, and 2, for people to actually buy it.
A lot of people talk about franchises who have gone separate ways with how they used to do things. Like Splinter Cell and how even though I loved Conviction and Blacklist, they weren't really "Splinter Cell". They changed it up so much that while they still shared a similar tone and setting, the gameplay was just different. Or, say, Devil May Cry, that even after a massively successful Devil May Cry 4, Capcom decided to sit on the franchise for years before rebooting it.
So the fans seemed to be expecting something like this for Resident Evil. But, as the large text says: It really happened. They put their money where their mouth was, took inspiration from games that did a lot of things better, and learned from their mistakes. Because of this, they made an incredible game and one that fans and even new players to the franchise can appreciate.
The FutureI've got to say the future of the Resident Evil franchise holds nothing but excitement. I've been cynical of Capcom for a long time, and to me and a lot of people Resident Evil was on a downward slope. Sure, Revelations 1 and 2 showed an honest effort into making original and exciting games, but they weren't perfect games(Revelations 2 for example changing the personality of series protagonist Claire Redfield, making her a seemingly new character which rubbed fans the wrong way). But ever since I saw the ending of Resident Evil 7 and saw that little stinger of a twist, I just keep thinking about it. For the first time they have decided to pull back, stop showing all of their cards at once, and just ride it out on mystery and intrigue.
They are letting the excitement speak for itself and from what anyone can see from going to RE communities around the net, they are abuzz with theories and explanations and ideas. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is an incredible game and it's a good time to be a Resident Evil fan. Because after all, don't forget about the Resident Evil 2 Remake that's coming out. If the gaming community at large can show Capcom that they don't need huge explosions or roided up marines yelling "KILL KILL KILL" to buy it then the future holds a great opportunity for the remake of one of Resident Evil's best entries.
It seems to be looking up for the Resident Evil franchise, and let's hope it stays that way.