Resident Evil 7’s Final Demo Is Horrifying [PSX 2016 Hands-On]

The scariest thing about the Resident Evil 7: Biohazard demo is how reactionary it feels. There’s ghosts, there’s a murderous backwoods family, there’s found footage, there’s probably some kind of zombie, the entire thing apes the graphical stylings of games like Outlast and P.T. — now that the demo has been completed, I have no clue how this weird mashup of horror cliches will tie into the overall Umbrella storyline, or even the haunted farmhouse tale the game’s most recent trailer promised.

There’s not much more to be said about the existing Resident Evil 7 demo, but I’ll bring you up to speed; you’re a cameraman filming a TV show about spooky locales (attention people who think The Chris Gethard Show is funny: Spooky Locales is a good name for a Ghost Hunters parody), and then everything goes very poorly. There are some kind of mangled corpses lining the back door hallway, there are some mannequins that turn around and stare at you, and the “bad ending” implies that a burly redneck murders you in a way most people would find unappealing.

The recent update to the demo (which I was shown at PlayStation Experience 2016), not only includes additional parts of the spooky house, but also real combat! There’s a friggin' bughuul in the basement, and it’s a tremendously unpleasant creature from toe to tip. I did my best to shoot it with my gun, but since you’re a cameraman and not a trained STARS agent, that did not work and I was sent 6 feet under. Oh, yeah, there’s a gun. You get four bullets. I recommend using them all on those God Damn Mannequins, because that would be more useful than using them on the creature. At least that’ll teach those horrible statues what happens when they stare at you.

You can play the Resident Evil 7 demo with a regular controller or inside the PlayStation VR headset. I do not recommend playing with PSVR if you are an enormous child trapped inside the body of an equally large man. Even knowing what the demo had in store (thanks, Cr1tikal!) wasn’t enough to save me from the shivers. Once the demo started to wander into uncharted territory, I requested that we moved the demo from VR mode to standard TV mode, in order to protect Capcom’s equipment.


(Two years ago, at PAX West, I got jump scared real good by Until Dawn, to the point where I smacked myself in the face with my controller and knocked my headphones off. I wasn’t exaggerating, it really was to protect the equipment)

Obviously, the game is much less scary when it’s not being projected directly in front of your face, but the aforementioned creature still managed to frighten me even without the virtual reality headset. My first escape from the horrendous monstrosity was legitimately harrowing, to the point where I’m not sure I could handle a whole game of that. I kept asking my PR rep about what would happen in the demo, just to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself with constant yelping. In hindsight, maybe asking him to hold my hand was just as embarrassing.

The game’s art direction has been done better elsewhere, but it really shines in VR, when you can get up close and personal with some of the grime. Outside of virtual reality, it’s not all that much to look at. You’ll get some nice lighting and particle effects, so if that’s all you need to be dazzled, you might be fine. The more discerning horror enthusiast may be looking for something a little more unique.

Look, even after the big burly hillbilly locked me in that room and I got grabbed by the ghoulie in a manner most unpleasant, I still felt like returning to the Duck-Dynasty-meets-Haunted-Mansion shack and trying my luck at a second run. It’s a free demo available to all, so logistically there’s no reason to not give it a shot. And if you have PSVR, then hey, it’s something else to use with your headset. You could do worse for horror on current-generation consoles.