Resident Evil 7 “Lantern” Demo Impressions – Old hag, new problems

Brasil Game Show 2016 was full steam ahead last week as I stopped by and checked out Resident Evil 7‘s newest demo, simply titled “Lantern“, right next to the same awesome spooky house setup Capcom had put together for E3. That demo, first shown at Gamescom, was only available to the press behind closed at BGS.

And while Beginning Hour featured a cool tease at the potential of the new Resident Evil, moving away from the not so scary approach taken for its 6th iteration, it didn’t really dive deep into any sort of character interaction. Sure, you could pop in a VCR tape and play along the recording like you were in the video being displayed on screen, but any other interactions were strictly scripted.

Lantern, on the other hand, puts you in the shoes of a woman tormented and chased by an old woman named Marguerite Barker, the wife of the scary dude you eventually ran into at the end of Beginning Hour, who is out to make her night living hell. That is, unless you help the poor girl try and keep her head down as she explores another section of the same farmland featured in the previous demo. The entirety of the demo requires you to keep low and move carefully as you avoid contact with the old hag, who just happens to be carrying an old timey lantern, hence the name of the demo section. And unlike the slice of the game that’s currently available publicly, Lantern does have a fail state: getting caught, obviously.

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In more ways than one, Lantern shows that Capcom has taken notes from more modern horror games like Outlast, by making the protagonist more helpless and focusing on first person ambiance in favor of making players feel like bad asses. Through the twenty or so minutes with the demo, there was only a single moment when I felt safe, which proved to be anything but: I had outrun the old lady after inching my way through a tight vertical slice between two walls when suddenly she popped up right next to me like an elderly version of a slasher movie villain.

According to Fabio Santana, head of PR for Capcom’s Brazilian branch who was sitting in during my demo, that had never happened in any of his previous viewings, which helped build up hope that Resident Evil 7 will be far less predictable of a scary ride than it initially seems.

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Another aspect of the demo that piqued my interest was its sole puzzle that involved a piece of twisted metal and a painting of a spider. By turning and rotating that hunk of scrap, the shadows it produced eventually turned out to match the picture, thus revealing the path that I described before, where I eventually ran out of luck. But then again, these demos aren’t worried about having to show particularly cheerful sections of Resident Evil 7, if there are even any to begin with.

Santana also said that Lantern is supposed to be another VCR tape that you’ll run into while traversing the main game, which in turn will feature a variety of gameplay situations. It’ll include the exploration seen in Beginning Hour, the stealth from this current demo, as well as still under wraps gunplay.

So far, Resident Evil 7 is looking quite promising. As a big fan of the more recent first person horror games like Amnesia, SOMA and Outlast, to name a few, I’m incredibly keen on seeing what one of the genre’s forefathers has to offer. It shouldn’t be long now – Resident Evil 7 is slated for a January 2017 release on both Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

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