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Will Resident Evil 7 be the Silent Hills we never got?

"Silent Hills" may be dead, but Capcom could be our best hope in picking up the pieces.

When Silent Hills was cancelled by social pariah Konami, fans across the world cried out in agony. It seemed like the perfect blend of creators and cast to possibly make one of the best entries in the series to date. With Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus playing the main character, and legendary creators Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima directing the project, it seemed like a potential slam dunk for the return of survival horror.

And yet, thanks to the pure idiocy of Konami, the most players ever got out of the discontinued project was the PlayStation 4 demo P.T, which you can no longer download off the store anyways. 

With Hideo Kojima and Norman Reedus set to work with Sony Interactive Entertainment on Death Stranding, it would seem that hope for a proper Silent Hill game has been all but dashed. Even the indie developed game Allison Road, which contained a lot of the same elements that made the P.T demo so chilling, has since been cancelled. And with survival horror games becoming a dying breed, these losses feel like extra stabs to an already bleeding carcass of what the genre used to be.

Here Capcom Comes to Save the Day?

And then E3 2016 happened. While Silent Hills may not have been magically resurrected, there was a giant hit that came out of left field from a series that has become more of a joke over the years: Resident Evil. After a large series of missteps in the series following the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 4, Capcom announced the series would finally be returning to its horror routes after the disastrously misguided Resident Evil 6, which was solely an action adventure experience. 

Just like with P.T., Capcom released a demo for Resident Evil called The Beginning Hour onto the PlayStation Network Store after its announcement at E3, and so far the reaction has been very positive. Thanks in large part to the demo showcasing an experience based entirely on atmosphere and exploration of a run down house, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard could mark the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Capcom and its scorned fan-base. 

But...

There's just one problem, The Beginning Hour is just that: a demo, and an extremely early one at that. Before the player is able to get into the entire experience, a disclaimer pops up letting the user know that the demo "doesn't represent the final product and changes are bound to be made".

For all we know, Capcom could up and change their minds tomorrow and decide to make Resident Evil 7 exactly like Resident Evil 6.

Think about that for a second -- it's not like it would be impossible for the switch to happen. After all, Konami up and cancelled one of the most anticipated games of 2016 over a hissy fit with one of Silent Hills' creators, so who's to say something similar might not happen here?

Capcom even revealed that they intended to implement combat mechanics into the final product, something that was only slightly graced upon in The Beginning Hour. Exploring through the attic, the player could look for an ax weapon, but was never be able to use it thanks to the unavoidable "twist."

Biohazard isn't set to release until January of 2017, that span of time could spawn a multitude of changes if executives aren't happy. Just how scary would that abandoned house be if developers suddenly decided to throw you an AK-47? All in all, if combat is favored too highly above everything else, it'll kill the entire experience; because nothing screams "pure dread and fear" like the knowledge you have no way to fight off an enemy, you just have to outmaneuver and survive. 

Yet, You Should Still be Excited!

However, considering the praise the Resident Evil 7 demo has been garnering, it would be incredibly silly for Capcom to try and fix what isn't broken. Games like Amnesia, Slender, and Alien: Isolation worked so well in the instillation of fear -- not because they tried to be grand epic adventures, but because they knew made caused fear: a lack of power. Resident Evil 6 did try to throw in some frights into its explosion-heavy campaign, but I can guarantee not a single one of them worked, because of the vast arsenal of weapons you could use to face whatever the game would throw your way.

The P.T demo understood how a lack of power creates scares, only giving you a flashlight to brighten the way you were walking, and nothing more. Resident Evil 4 understood this too, even though you had shotguns and machine guns to use! While you had an assortment of weapons to purchase and utilize, the game hindered you by preventing you from walking while aiming -- i.e., taking away power from the player. 

When I played the Resident Evil 7 demo, I was beyond stoked to see what the final product would be like. There was so much dread and eeriness layered in the demo's atmosphere that I could feel goosebumps running up my skin -- something I, and many fans of the series, had not experienced since Resident Evil 4. And to see the series finally returning to its roots, even after the downright horrible experience of Umbrella Corps, feels like a wave of relief.

Regardless of whether or Capcom is just doing this to capitalize of Silent Hills' failure is beside the point. If the success of games like Slender or Five Nights at Freddy's is an indication of anything, it's the fact that players clearly want their AAA survival horror games back. If Capcom wants to gain back the fans they've lost along the way, they should triple check and make sure they follow The Beginning Hour's game plan as much as possible.

Did you get a chance to check out the Beginning Hour demo? What are your thoughts on it? Be sure to let us know if you're excited to see Resident Evil return to the survival horror genre, or if you're still skeptical thanks to their recent strings of duds. 

Published Jun. 30th 2016

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