Capcom brought its Resident Evil VII “Kitchen” demo to PAX West this year, and Road to VR went hands on to try it out. The demo takes place before the events of Resident Evil VII’s main storyline, and is very much intended for mature audiences only.
Capcom set the tone for the demo by dressing their booth up to look like an abandoned plantation house. Inside the plantation house, I was led to a small dimly lit room with a cobweb covered ceiling fan and a chair that looked like it had seen better days. I sat down and prepared myself for some adrenaline inducing scares.
As the name implies, the demo takes place in the kitchen of the abandoned house, and it starts with the player sitting in a chair similar to the one Capcom placed in the real room. In the virtual room, I found myself staring head-on at the lens of an ominously placed TV news camera along with a body of a man in a suit. The demo uses a motion tracked DualShock controller instead of the Move wands so this means your hands are locked together for the extent of the experience. This actually makes a lot of sense in practice because, in the game, your hands are bound together and move as you move the controller.
I was only seconds into the demo but I already felt my body tensing up. Clearly I was in danger, but even having played other Resident Evil games in the past, I had little clue as to how that danger would manifest itself. At this point, an icon on the screen told me to move the controller in the direction of the camera tripod. Unfortunately, the PSVR camera was positioned below the TV in the actual room so I experienced tracking loss every time my hands went below a certain height. This made it difficult for me knock the camera tripod over as the game indicated, but after a bit of vigorous struggling, the man in the suit began to move.
After a very brief moment of panic, I realized that the man in the suit was not actually zombified and that he was going to try and help me escape. He quickly found a kitchen knife and told me to raise my hands up so that he could cut away my bonds. The interaction was fairly simple but a key differentiator from other narrative-heavy VR horror experiences. For example, in ABE VR, the viewer still experiences that sense of foreboding and terror at what is to come, but it is tempered by the knowledge that there is nothing you, as a viewer, can do to affect the outcome. In this Resident Evil demo, however, I felt very much involved in my own survival and this made my actions feel that much more important.
As the man attempted to free my hands, I got my first glimpse of the source of all my fear. In the background I saw an extremely pale, dark-haired woman crawling across the field of view. There was nothing that really forced my attention to her initially, and for a brief moment I almost tricked myself into thinking I had just imagined it. Unfortunately for my would-be rescuer, she was indeed real and viciously stabbed him in the back moments later. She then turned on me and plunged the knife into my leg. It was horrifying, and disturbing, but I imagine this is exactly what Capcom intended.
After stabbing me in the leg, the woman got very close to my face and started staring at me with rage. Just before stabbed me again, my savior got back up and tackled her. As they fought, they moved out of my field of view but I could still hear the sounds from the struggle. Eventually my friend lost the fight and I got another glimpse of the woman rapidly crawling in the shadows near the edge of my sight. Things went quiet for a brief moment before two gory hands sprung out behind me and starting pawing at my face. I tried turning around to face my attacker, but she ended popping back out in front with a knife raised towards my heart. Thankfully, before she stabbed again, the demo ended and I returned to the safety of PAX West.
Resident Evil VII: Biohazard will be available starting on January 24th, 2017. While the Kitchen demo may not be a part of the final game, Resident Evil VII, is compatible with PSVR and Capcom have stated it will be possible to play the entire game in VR.