Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour “Midnight Version” Hands-On Preview: The Witching Hour Gives Us Our Best Look at RE7 Yet


I’ve gone hands-on with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard twice now, first with the original Beginning Hour demo and then with the VR Lantern demo. Both left me with very different impressions, but since the Beginning Hour demo received one last update following Sony’s PlayStation Experience event, I decided to jump back in with high hopes. How did it go?

Platforms: PC, PS4 (Version Played), Xbox One
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Genre: First-Person Resident Evil
Release Date: January 24, 2017
ESRB Rating: Mature

Freshly updated to the “Midnight” version, Beginning Hour begins exactly as it did before, with a cameraman named Clancy passed out on the floor of the Baker Plantation Mansion. Having played this portion a few times, I knew the drill. Circumventing the playable VHS tape, I immediately crouched and activated the secret passage by tugging on the chain inside the fireplace. Grabbing the fuse and placing it in the fusebox, I shuffled upstairs past the naked, shameless mannequins and put a fist to the shiny red button. Ascending the lowered staircase, I took a look around the room that had been added with the previous “Twilight” update and collected a single handgun bullet, as well as the basement key.

Returning downstairs, I hurried down the corridor and discovered the blackened, mouldy door at the end was finally unlocked. New area! On the other side was another hallway and, upon entering the first door on the right, I found one of the most disturbing bathrooms in all of gaming.

The toilet was filled with blood but, unlike Silent Hill 2’s James Sunderland, there’s no way I would just stick my hand in there! Clancy seemed to agree, because there was no button prompt. Looking left showed the bathtub in all its overflowing glory, containing an upside-down bicycle submerged in even more blood. Yeah… the most skillful writer in the world couldn’t craft a happy backstory for that. Checking a drawer yielded more handgun rounds and also presented me with a water pipe in need of a valve handle.

Returning to the decrepit hallway, I eased toward the other end. A blank journal was found in a cabinet, while an iron gate awaited around the corner. Unlocking it with the basement key, I descended down a dark, ominous set of stairs to find a lockpick on the left, and a door that seemed to be snarling at me on the right. Hoping for the best, I snatched the lockpick and raced up to the attic window but, alas, the lockpick did not open that exit.

Back in the basement, I sucked in my gut and braced myself before entering that noisy door… and in case you aren’t familiar with horror games, nothing good would follow. However, there was no immediate threat awaiting me — just a few human bodies (I assume) wrapped in sheets and tape, strung up from the ceiling. For some reason there was an option to kick one of them, but it didn’t do anything. We all cope with fear differently, I suppose.

Lo and behold, that shimmering old valve handle was waiting atop a gurney across from where I played kick-the-corpse. It was nestled near a side passage which, upon peering inside, seemed like a dead end divided by a wooden shelving unit — but not the Ikea kind. No, Jack Baker is the kind of villain who builds his own furniture. You’ve got to admire that in this day and age…

…Well, except for the fact that he and his stupid beard showed up to hold the door shut as I tried to leave. What’s more, a monster dropped in from a ceiling vent the moment I turned around — tall and somewhat lanky, with black oozing skin and a toothy grin. Think Resident Evil 4’s Regenerators mixed with Resident Evil 5’s Ouroboros and you’re right on the money. Apparently referred to as “Moulded,” these things seem like a huge threat even if their design isn’t overly terrifying.

Because I forgot to enter the kitchen and use the lockpick to grab the axe, I was defenseless. I rushed past the Moulded and into that side passage but, like I assumed, it was a dead end — though I did find the attic window key. The Moulded then grabbed me, but mashing R2 fended him off and let me break free. Returning to the door I entered through revealed that Jack had vanished, but before he left, he had managed to bar my exit with a pile of crates. Mashing X allowed me to kick the door until the crates broke apart, and so I left the Moulded in the dust and ran my butt upstairs.

Returning the valve to the pipe allowed me to finally flush the toilet, which drained the blood and gave me an M1911 handgun. Score! Since that Moulded did some damage (which doesn’t regenerate, FYI), I returned to the basement to settle the score — but it was gone! Cue up a “Disappointed!” GIF from Hercules. Or not.

Unfortunately, the Moulded bit me during our tussle. Clancy’s hands began turning black on the trip back to the attic, and he stopped intermittently to find his condition worsening. While climbing the ladder toward the locked window, with escape mere inches away, his arms became encased in goo before he slid down and hit the floor. Jack appeared in view, taunting him with the words, “You’re just a man without a family.”

And then Jack attacked. Cut to black. The next screen informed me that what I saw was the Infected ending, so I wager there’s at least one more if you don’t take damage from the Moulded. I tried two more times, but still got hit while trying to escape the basement, so I’ll leave it to someone else to try getting a happier ending.

Regardless, what I played felt like a true, bite-sized survival horror experience. The demo finally contains enough items and an adequate area with which to gauge what really awaits players in the full game. There may not have been any real puzzles (I’m not counting the infamous dummy finger/hand items), but the VR Lantern demo did showcase some of that.

For those of you who wish to explore the Baker Mansion for yourselves, The Beginning Hour is available in its entirety now on the PlayStation 4 (with PlayStation VR support) and Xbox One. The PC version is due for release on December 19th.

My trepidation with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is mostly alleviated now, and this — combined with Capcom’s recent string of short gameplay clips — has swayed me into buying the game when it hits stores on January 24th, 2017. What about you?

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