Bless you Capcom. January is usually dryer than a terrible advert for Savannah (like, any of them really), a month where most developers catch their breath and anyone looking for something new on the horizon has to wait until February before the ball really gets rolling on the year to come. But Capcom has had a habit of over the last couple of years of releasing a top-tier title in that month.
Last year saw a remaster of Resident Evil Zero, 2015 had another remaster of the original Resident Evil and I think I’m starting to notice a pattern here. Because the latest chapter in the core Resident Evil series is a mere day away. It’s a huge departure from the last game, 2012’s Resident Evil 6. That was a clunky mess with a story that split the narrative and the quality, a game that made the series feel about as lifeless as the cannon fodder that players were used to mowing down.
But Resident Evil 7 feels like a back to roots refresh for the series. A more focused approach that reminds players of the horror that Resident Evil is capable of as they find themselves stuck in a house with a family that makes the Hardestys in Texas look tame by comparison. “With Resident Evil 6 I think we’d reached the limit on how far we could go in expanding the scale of a blockbuster style, globetrotting story line with multiple characters and intersecting campaign threads and so forth. We just wanted to stop and take stock of what Resident Evil really meant,” producer Masachika Kawata said to VG247.
Y’know, you can call it a return to roots, but return makes it sound like we’re just looking backward, but we also want to look forward to the future of the series and take this chance to turn the spotlight on a more focused, more intimate scenario.
It’s still taking place within the Resident Evil world, but it’s kind of a more novel, interesting way of looking at the Resident Evil universe, a different perspective. We also just wanted a chance to take the latest technology available to make a really interesting, modern horror game that made sense for modern gamers and where the market is right now. I think, looking at the finished game now, I’m pretty confident we’ve been able to achieve our goals.
One other big departure here? That Resident Evil 7 is a game with a singular focus on the story that it wants to tell. It may be more of an experience than previous entries with their added arcade modes and other ideas cobbled on, but that’s a result of a development process with a purpose. “Well, our boss was telling us… why should we make something that everyone else is making, y’know? We’ve got a great chance here with this horror franchise to make it a really focused experience in single player,” director Koshi Nakanishi explained.
It doesn’t need all these other things for that experience to succeed – especially because it is traditional horror.
I wouldn’t say that at the very start of development we didn’t consider… Like, ‘are we sure this is something people want nowadays given the trends that were developing in the previous console generation?’ But I think ultimately there’s definitely, absolutely a market for a game that just does one thing really well rather than trying to be a jack of all trades.
And there’s not a single chance in hell of me laying hands on this game, because I am a massive coward in this or any of the other 52 realities in the multiverse. For those of you who are made up of sterner stuff, Resident Evil 7 drops tomorrow on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.