Nerd Bacon at the Resident Evil 20th Anniversary Tour
The Resident Evil series is legendary.
Sure 1996’s Resident Evil wasn’t the first survival horror game on the scene, but it was the title that defined the genre and introduced the public to the idea of getting spooked by video games. A lot has happened since then; RE has seen incredible highs and upsetting lows, but with a fan requested Resident Evil 2 remake in development, a new CG film coming soon for fans of the lore, and the horror focused Resident Evil 7: Biohazard being announced to great fanfare, it seems Capcom’s most popular IP is looking to take back its spot as the king of survival horror.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Resident Evil, and to promote the soon released Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Umbrella Corporation trucks just finished up touring the United States with a trailer full of RE stations and goodies in tow as part of the Resident Evil 20th Anniversary Tour. I was ecstatic to discover that they were swinging by Raleigh, NC on October 23. With the promise of exclusive Resident Evil merchandise and a chance to play the Lantern demo of RE7 in PlayStation VR, I grabbed my BSAA shirt, called out of work, and set out to visit their setup with my friends.
We arrived right around the 2:00PM start time, and there was already a line. I wasn’t bothered at all; I was happy to see fellow Resident Evil fans had come out. North Carolina gets skipped over for just about all video game related events and the Resident Evil 20th Anniversary Tour didn’t seem to be heavily advertised, so for someone to have discovered that we were getting visited and also to have made it out to the event meant they were true fans. It was an awesome event, too! Demos were available for Kitchen, the RE7 VR teaser, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard First Hour, and (what the entire turnout to the event was waiting in line for) the newest playable RE7 snippet known as the Lantern demo. During the wait for the VR play-through of the demo, paper masks of the iconic first zombie from Resident Evil (Remake) were passed out to everyone, there was a merchandise booth set up full of overpriced but irresistible Resident Evil t-shirts and plush toys, and a trivia game was played for Resident Evil 20th Anniversary posters.
Another option to kill time and win a prize during the wait was to take the stage and complete a challenge in Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, or Resident Evil 6. Players were tasked with making it through the village ambush at the beginning of RE4, scoring at least 50,000 in Mercenaries mode in RE5, or scoring at least 70,000 points in Mercenaries mode in RE6. Having just completed Resident Evil 4 again when it released in August for PlayStation 4, I got up there and speed-ran the Pueblo, snagged a 20th Anniversary poster as a reward, and got my picture taken as well. Here’s me in my BSAA garb attempting to juggle the RE merch I’d collected along with the sign I was given.
The wait for Lantern wasn’t that long in the first place, but the diversions and trivia (some of it super obscure and satisfying) were good fun and helped pass the time. When I’d finally made it through the line, I was led into the Resident Evil themed trailer and given the seat furthest on the left. I put on the
PlayStation Space Helmet PlayStation VR, twisted the tightening gear until it was snug, and pulled in the visor so that my vision was now completely obscured besides the display of the headset. The trailer was kept dark as well, not only for the ambiance but so that no light leaked into the visor to distract you and remind you that you were still in the real world. Then I was given headphones and a DualShock 4 and instructed to “have fun”. Fat chance, with the matriarch of the insane Baker family hunting me down in this demo.
Resident Evil 7 Lantern Demo Impressions
The demo was a short experience that puts players in the role of the wife of the protagonist of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Unlike the RE7 demo available on PlayStation Network, the demo is very linear and you’re being hunted down by Mrs. Baker for the majority of it, instead of only being vulnerable after activating a set of triggers. The Lantern demo introduces more features that will be part of the full RE7 experience than the bare bones Beginning Hour PSN teaser, including stealth and shadow-based puzzle solving (a feature revealed in one of the very short mechanics trailers). The demo began with a short tutorial of how to play the game while using PlayStation VR, and I’m sure it’ll be very useful to those who are less familiar with the technology. Moving the camera in VR games using the motion of your headset as well as the right stick of your controller can pose issues, and various games approach this problem in unique ways. RE7 is still in development, so how the camera controls will change in response to feedback I can’t say, but in this demo, both the right stick and headset moved the camera in cooperation with one another and I didn’t feel motion-sick or disoriented at any point.
In the demo you scuttle around a few dimly lit hallways, hiding behind crates and structures to stay out of the sight of lantern toting Mrs. Baker. Your pursuer looks around fervently while muttering incoherent babble. She rushed me and murdered me a few times in the early part of the demo as I learned just how deep into cover you needed to be tucked to count as hidden. After the first few deaths I got the hang of just how covered counted as covered and eluded the murderous mom before solving one of the shadow manipulation puzzles, getting forced into crawling through a narrow passage and then getting thoroughly jump scared before the demo ended on me. It was a brief, but tense experience. The demo was undoubtedly trying to sell players on how cool playing in VR will be, rather than how good Resident Evil 7: Biohazard will be. The focus here was on sneaking around and being scared rather than the exploration, puzzle solving, and inventory management that are the staples of Resident Evil.
There are definitely pros and cons to playing the game with PlayStation VR so it’ll come down to preference for those who own the headset. It really does add to the tension to have the game’s derelict house fully fill your peripheral vision, and being able to look around with your head and even scoot forward and move your neck to look around objects or peek from corners does wonders for immersion (as well as excitement and novelty). However playing in the headset will be robbing you of just how good the game looks on a television due to the limited resolution of PlayStation VR. There’s also the issue of motion sickness and fatigue for some. As much as I enjoyed the game in VR, I just can’t shake the feeling that I’d actually enjoy the game more with my standard set-up. For one, I have a PlayStation 4 Pro and a 4K television and I’m looking forward to how Resident Evil 7 will look on this display, and I also just feel like I’d enjoy the title more by playing it the same way I’ve played every other game in the series (and every game I’ve ever loved), reclined and relaxed in bed or in a chair with no need to move and no contraption on my face (no matter how cool the contraption).
The Resident Evil 20th Anniversary Tour was a blast. It was awesome beating the challenge, trying to remember crazy specific Resident Evil factoids for trivia, talking to other hardcore fans of the series, and experiencing the newest playable snippet of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I even ended up with a ton of Resident Evil themed prizes (pins, posters, zombie face) without succumbing to my impulse to buy all the merch at the stand. The staff was super friendly as well! It’s so rare that there are video game “events” outside of trades-hows in huge cities or Nintendo’s rare Best Buy demos, and it’s even more rare to see one reward fans with so much cool swag, and an involved experience that made waiting in line a good time.
I’m looking forward to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, as well as the onslaught of Resident Evil goodies coming to celebrate the remainder of the anniversary year! In the meantime, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on any more events and news related to horror gaming’s most prolific franchise!
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