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Resident Evil 7: everything you’re too embarrassed to ask

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard arrives today, January 24th, and with it, the first great and terrifying game of 2017. It serves as both a fresh breath for the series, and a return to the horror roots that made the original game so compelling.

Whether this is your first romp through the Resident Evil franchise, or you’re just interested in learning more, we’re here to get you started.

What is Resident Evil 7: Biohazard?

The textbook answer is that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (shorthand: RE7) is Capcom’s latest survival horror game in its very long and scary series. It’s specifically part of Resident Evil’s main “numbered” entries, but there are about two dozen games in the franchise overall which include a good number of remakes, spinoffs, and so on.

Since the first game launched in 1996, the series has changed quite a bit. The very first Resident Evil was heavy on the survival horror aspect; players were dumped into a zombie-infested mansion where they needed to solve puzzles and fight off the undead to escape. Supplies were limited, adding to the suspense of each encounter. As the series evolved, however, it started to place a heavier focus on run-and-gun action. By Resident Evil 6’s release in 2012, the series had become a bloated, multi-perspective story with quick-time events that require the player to rapidly respond to on-screen button prompts.

Resident Evil 7, meanwhile, is Capcom’s return to more traditional scares. The game ditches the series’ long-used third-person view for a first-person perspective and is heavy on creeping players out through a powerful sense of setting and sound.

What’s up with that name?

Biohazard is a “clue” to the game’s plot, as well as a nod to the series’ name in Japan, which is... yeah, it’s Biohazard. (Western territories have always known the series as Resident Evil.) Consequently, in Japan, this particular game is called Biohazard 7: Resident Evil.

Okay, so what is it about?

I’ll spare you too many spoilery details, but in the game you play as Ethan, a man looking for his missing wife, Mia. After watching a series of tapes that suggest Mia is alive, Ethan heads to Louisiana to find answers. His search takes him to a house owned by the Baker family, and suffice to say, they’re not too friendly.

How does it play?

Like I mentioned before, it’s a first-person game. The game is heavy on exploration, which means you’ll spend a lot of time searching for clues and solving puzzles in this creepy old house. There are villains you’ll have to fight for your survival with whatever means necessary, but you’ll also spend a great deal of time hiding and plotting your next move. Or, more likely, gathering your courage.

What do I need to play it?

Resident Evil 7 is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC. If you have the PS4 version and a strong stomach, you can also play it with the PlayStation VR headset.

Do I need to play the other games first?

Nah. The game technically takes place after the events of Resident Evil 6 and has ties to the overall series, but RE7 is largely standalone. If you’re really curious about what’s happened in past games and who the overarching villains and heroes are, you could always just surf the franchise’s wiki pages. It’s a fun rabbit hole to fall into.

Okay but if I did want to play one of the other games, where would I start?

If you want to experience the very first game, the HD remake is an easy way to go back in time without sacrificing every modern standard. If you’re up for starting wherever, start at Resident Evil 4, without a doubt. It’s more action-thriller than the early games, but with its fair share of creeps. It’s also one of the most accessible for newbies and features the best hero of the series, Leon S. Kennedy. There are so many things to love about Leon (his hair, his jacket), but this video of his one-liners says it all. Like, kind of literally sometimes, so if you care about spoilers maybe don’t watch this video.

It’s a pretty good video, though.

What’s the deal with all those demos?

Ah yeah, so technically there are three Resident Evil 7 demos, starting with “Kitchen” at E3 2015. Kitchen was a tech demo for Project Morpheus — the codename for PlayStation VR — before Resident Evil 7 had officially been announced. In the demo, you play as a bound character stuck in... a kitchen. It’s only a few minutes long and let’s just say it ends poorly for everyone involved.

After the game was finally revealed at E3 2016, Capcom released the “Beginning Hour” demo, and a third “Lantern” demo shortly after. Lantern takes place through found footage tapes concerning Mia, but Beginning Hour is meant to serve as a standalone experience from Resident Evil 7, much as Konami’s infamous P.T. demo was.

These demos did more than offer a look at Resident Evil 7’s play style, or even its VR experience. They drummed up questions about the game’s mysteries while adding a few strange ones of their own. How ‘bout that finger puzzle, eh?

One more question. Does this game have anything to do with the Resident Evil movies?

Absolutely not. I don’t even know what the hell is going on there.