It’s official: Resident Evil is scary again! Even if it is borrowing a bit from the likes of Amnesia and Outlast, but there’s no denying that Resident Evil is finally delivering the scares its fans have been wanting for so many years. This shouldn’t really be coming as a shock since so much of the game’s pre-release media showed us what looked like a genuinely terrifying experience. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so many trailers and previews proving themselves unreliable at best we can hardly be blamed for our skepticism. Yet, here we are. Resident Evil VII is an excellent game that actually delivers the genuinely chilling experience were promised in the very first trailer. How closely does it hit the promised mark? More so than you might think.
Capcom certainly had its work cut out for it when time came to convince gamers to return to the Resident Evil series. Resident Evil 6 had left a sour taste in just about everyone’s mouth, and the spin-offs they’d released to keep the series in our minds really didn’t do much to help that. They weren’t going to be able to sell us on the next entry if without changing our minds first. This was the goal of the E3 announcement trailer, not to sell us on the game, but to get us thinking that maybe, just maybe, Resident Evil was something worth paying attention to again. And you know what? They succeeded.
(Video from the official PlayStation YouTube channel)
Ever since Resident Evil 4 took to the stage in 2005, the series has been loud, action-oriented, and most of all: not the least bit frightening. Whatever else their announcement trailer did, it absolutely had to overturn this reputation. The first step: be quiet.
It’s not even clear that this is a trailer for a Resident Evil game at first. It doesn’t have any of the traditional hallmarks: no zombies, no Chris Redfield or Leon Kennedy brandishing a gun, no explosions, and no bombastic background music. Instead, we get someone on the other end of a phone saying “she’s back”. We get a dilapidated old plantation house, a brief glimpse of what might be a zombie, quick cuts of brutal violence, decaying spaces, rotting flesh, all underlain by a strangely energetic (but nontheless haunting) elegy. If not for the title shown at the very end of the trailer, one would easily think this was for some brand new horror series. This game wasn’t the Resident Evil we’d come to expect, and this trailer was going to make darn sure that we knew it. That wasn’t the only job it had to do though. If Resident Evil VII wasn’t going to be like the last few entries in the series, then was it going to be? What kind of experience was it planning to deliver? The answer: a terrifying one.
At no point in this trailer are we given any sense of security. Its setting is an inherently dangerous dark and rotting house in the middle of the woods. Our POV character is never shown to be in control and is indeed helpless to stop what appears to be the killing of another person right before their eyes. We even see them getting dragged somewhere after getting knocked out. The rest of trailers imagery is downright disturbing: all rot, decay, depravity and darkness; things that are just frightening in and of themselves. And all of it is right in our face for the duration; no comfortable separation from our character to be found here. The game promised in this trailer was going to do its best to actually scare its players, not just startle them.
This is one of those rare instances where the pre-release media actually accurately represented its product. The scares are there. They’re in your face rather than some character’s. The danger in the game is real; Your character isn’t powerful. The evil being faced in it is one born of and surrounded by decay and depravity. It’s, shockingly, everything that was promised in our very first look at the game. All that’s left is to decide whether or not that experience is something you actually want to take on. 😀
What’s your take on game trailers? Do you find them to be helpful or are they easily ignored? What do think of the experience this trailer promised vs. what we actually got?
Lede image captured from official announcement trailer