After moving out of my parents house and coming to California in 2007, I used the money I’d earned working in a diner to buy my first console since the Sega Genesis: the Nintendo GameCube. Growing up, I had very limited exposure to game news. I barely even knew about PlayStation in general, but when I did learn about it eventually, I decided I wanted to play a little bit of catch up with the Resident Evil franchise. So I bought a 3 pack collectors edition box set for GameCube featuring Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil 1 (the remake), and Resident Evil 4.
I tried very very hard to like Resident Evil the first time I played it, but the tank controls really didn’t sit right with me, and the camera angles were hard to work with. I never played a game like this. I wasn’t used to it and I didn’t like it. I wanted to like it, but I just wasn’t. I tried going back to the beginning of the time-line, playing Resident Evil 0, but it wasn’t working out for me. Still, it was the camera angles the tank controls that I couldn’t handle. But there was a third game in that box that I decided to try out before I sold it back to GameStop. I didn’t want to because I wanted to start at the beginning of the story (either 0 or 1), but I figured I might as well.
I fell in love with Resident Evil 4 almost immediately. I played that game close to 20 times in the next couple years, just on GameCube. I had the infinite rocket launcher, I had infinite ammo in a few of my other weapons, I had all the costumes, I beat the game on professional. I LOVED that game.
Loving Resident Evil 4 caused me to go backwards. I now had a new appreciation for RE1 and RE0, and then RE2, RE3, and even Code Veronica. I love these characters. I got to know them, and I wanted to follow their stories, and that’s why even though the most die-hard Resident Evil fans hate RE5 and RE6, I still love them because I got to play as Leon and Chris and follow their stories even further.
So when RE7 was announced and I started learning details about it, I wasn’t sure how to feel. This is a brand new character! Who are you, Ethan Winters? You’re not Chris, you’re not Leon. You’re not Claire or Jill. Heck, you’re not even Sheva, Billy, Carlos, or any of the other one-off characters that I was curious about what happened to. And it’s in first person? That didn’t sit right with me. For a little while, I had to get used to it (but to be fair, I had to do the same thing with moving and shooting in RE6). I played the demo and I started to enjoy it, and then I started getting more and more interested in the ideas behind it. Who were the Bakers? Why were they so obsessed with family? Why do they keep collecting all these people and torturing them? It was exciting in a very Texas Chainsaw Massacre kind of way. Most importantly, though, it was frightening.
I don’t think I’ve ever really been frightened by Resident Evil. I’d heard enough by the time I finally got around to playing it that I knew to expect the licker in the window and the dogs jumping in the hallway. Every so often I got a little jump scare, like the regenerator popping out of the oven in Resident Evil 4, but for the most part, I was never really scared. That changed with Resident Evil 7. I actually needed to take a break with the demo. It manages to build tension like crazy. When you when you go down the ladder to check on your friend, Andre, you know something is wrong, and you know that you’re about to see what’s wrong with him, and I had to stop because I wasn’t sure I was ready to find out. The same thing can be said for the game proper. For a good long while, I was very tense roaming through the house, especially without a weapon. Of course, it didn’t last too long. I wanted to beat the game quickly, so I played on easy (and got plenty of ammo as a result), but the fact remained that I was scared. I was scared of Jack bursting through walls. I was scared of Marguerite finding me while I hid from her. I was scared of what Lucas might have in store for me. There was even a moment where I did not hear a molded come up behind me, and when I turned around, he was right in my face, and I screamed out loud. Not gasp, not jump, not even a yelp, I legitimately screamed.
While I may enjoy Resident Evil 5 and 6, I understand why longtime fans do not. It’s a far cry from what Resident Evil used to be. But I gotta tell you, with Resident Evil 7, they’re back, and in some ways, they’re better than they ever were. Sure, the story can get a little cheesy, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless, and it’s tense and frightening.
Unfortunately, there is one downside, but it’s not the game’s fault. Resident Evil 7 reminds me of another long-standing horror franchise that was planning to get a brand new sequel that would reinvent it. For years, I couldn’t get into Silent Hill. I tried The Room, Homecoming, even SH0, but I didn’t really like it. I thought maybe I was just destined to be a Resident Evil guy, but eventually, after playing the original, I finally came around on the franchise. The first was scary, and the next two were even more terrifying. But unlike Resident Evil, I still could not get behind the later entries.
Then came PT. I’ll admit that it was much scarier than the demo for Resident Evil 7, and there were times where I seriously debated even buying Silent Hills when it was done. I mean, I like scary games, but Kojima wanted to make me shit my pants in fear.
Of course, we all know how that turned out. Kojima and Konami had a falling out, which resulted in an unfinished Metal Gear Solid V (of which I’m still bitter about) and a canceled Silent Hills. We would never get to know the story behind Lisa and the crying fetus in the sink.
Because of how scared I was after playing both demos, I knew that this was what Resident Evil and Silent Hill needed. Like I said, most people did not like RE5 or RE6, and I still personally thought SH3 was the last great game in that franchise. They needed to be reinvented, they needed horror injected until it was overflowing.
Resident Evil got their chance, and it was really good. I was impressed. Now, as we look to the future, we can see Resident Evil 8 looming. If they take their cues from the success of this game, we’re in for another great experience. Silent Hill’s future, on the other hand, is unclear. Will Konami learn from Resident Evil’s reinvention? Try to build off of what PT was without Kojima’s involvement? Or will they just crank out another game like Book of Memories? No matter what happens, I think we’ll always wonder what Silent Hills could’ve been.