This year’s EGX ended the same way as last – with me throwing myself at the mercy of the Playstation VR staff in the hopes of playing a scary game. Similarly, this year’s Words About Games EGX coverage begins the same way, with our first hands-on write-up being the last thing I played.
This year it was Capcom once again who provided my final demo, in the form of the Resident Evil 7 Lantern demo. Unlike Kitchen, this time I could move. And I needed to, given that I was being pursued by a psychotic, mentally unhinged woman whose plans for me definitely did not include letting me leave peacefully.
The demo started off with the protagonist running into a decrepit house that was falling apart, being pursued by the woman mentioned above, who seemed really angry with me for some reason. From that point forward it was a game of cat and mouse – I explored the house, looking for a way out and every now and again I’d have to hide from my unwanted pursuer.
It was a thrilling chase, made all the more intense by the fact that I was experiencing it in virtual reality. The house itself was falling apart around me, poorly lit and with plenty of dead ends and locked doors.
VR really helped make this slice of gameplay even more immersive. And not just because when I was caught (which happened once) the woman bull rushed me. Thanks to the precise head tracking afforded by the PSVR I was able to peer around corners, through gaps in the broken wood and carelessly piled up furniture that I had hidden behind. It was a brilliantly engaging experience. The whole thing felt incredibly natural.
The experience of virtual reality aside (which is impossible to convey in words to anyone who hasn’t experienced it anyway) the Lantern demo is a very similar experience to the Beginning Hour demo, currently available on Playstation 4 for PS Plus subscribers, albeit with an enemy hunting you down.
Exploration of the environment was key to finding hiding places and ways to progress. The atmosphere was excellent, the moments where I was forced to hide or flee were intense and there was even a small puzzle to solve in the form of a statue that needed to be rotated, so its shadow matched a pictogram on a wall. It uncovered a secret door. Very Resident Evil.
The Lantern demo has the same drawback that the Beginning Hour demo had – it’s still a great demo, but there’s almost nothing in it that feels like you’re playing a Resident Evil game. The aesthetic of the house you end up hiding in is reminiscent of the village from Resident Evil 4.
That’s not to take away from the fact that Resident Evil 7’s Lantern demo was a fine piece of horror gameplay. It was tense and scary in all the right places and dripping with claustrophobia thanks to the incredibly cramped environments. While I’m hopeful that we’ll see some elements that start to tie it into the Resident Evil franchise more closely, I’m keenly anticipating the release of the full game.
Resident Evil 7 is scheduled to launch on January 24, 2017 on PC, PS4, PSVR and Xbox One.