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Resident Evil 7 – Lantern Demo Hands-on Preview


Horror has changed – mutated, even, to a point where it’s utterly unrecognizable from the original PlayStation game – PT has seemingly changed the landscape of a genre that was becoming stale, so much so that even the most legendary horror game franchise has transformed itself into something that, on the surface at least, looks and feels very similar. But Resident Evil 7 isn’t just a PT-alike copycat, it’s something more familiar than that, which takes the franchise forward in a new direction. Resident Evil 7 isn’t the devil you know, it’s something else entirely.

I had a chance to play the brand new Lantern demo at Gamescom 2016, and got suitably spooked. The demo sees you being chased around a fairly linear house by Marguerite Baker – the absent wife of Jack Baker, whom punches you in the face and kills your friends in the PS4’s Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour demo. You play a nameless girl, clearly terrified by Marguerite’s pursuit, who must hide and sneak around the woman in an effort to escape.
Marguerite’s pursuit is ruthless and there’s a few close calls, all while goading you about wanting you to be a part of her “family,” implying you’re either not the first, or there are many more where the Bakers came from. She follows you around the house closely, giving you a fairly linear path or progression, meaning the demo can be finished fairly quickly.

Interesting things to note are that this demo goes back to a few Resident Evil series staples, such as the “weird item puzzle.” A statue you find can be rotated to look like a spider, before being used as a key to open up a narrow passageway – a very classic puzzle that fans of the series will find familiar, though I was told not to expect the main game’s puzzles to be similar, as the spider puzzle was “quite easy” and that many of the puzzles in the game have been confounding Capcom’s own staff.
An interesting clarification came when talking about the video tape nature of the demo – it uses a similar film grain recording effect that was seen in the Beginning Hour demo, after accessing the video tape flashback sequence. I was told that these sections, these playable tapes, actually mostly replace Resident Evil’s classic notes and documents, letting players actually play the backstory instead of merely reading about it – a welcome change, given older Resident Evil games sometimes included writings of people “going mad,” which usually resulted in some odd, fragmented dialogue and little else.
To supplement these tapes – or so you can actually play them – the mansion of Resident Evil 7 is littered with old CRT televisions and VCR players. That came directly from the representative’s mouth – “mansion.” No confirmations have been made about Resident Evil 7’s setting other than what we’ve seen in demos, but it seems the mansion locale may make a return – though judging by the Beginning Hour and Lantern demos, it does seem that large, dilapidated buildings are here to stay.
More will be released about Resident Evil 7 in the run up to its January 24th release date, including more information on that “Dummy Finger” (I made sure to ask about that). One thing’s certain: I won’t play this in VR, because I’d likely need to change my pants a bit too regularly.

In case you missed it, here's a link to the latest trailer and screenshots from Gamescom 2016.