Resident Evil 7 only launched last week, and already there’s a new batch of content for fans to play through (and buy, of course). The main game featured a tense and terrifying blend of modern first-person exploration and classic-style survival horror that resulted in one of the best Resident Evil games to date. So how do you improve on that? In the case of the new “Bedroom” episode, you lock the player up in a creepy bedroom and throw away the key.
“Bedroom” is one of three new additions that come with the “Banned Footage Vol. 1” downloadable content pack, but it’s by far the most interesting. Essentially it’s an escape room puzzle, but one that takes place in the spooky Baker household from RE7. You play as Clancy — you’ll remember him as the cameraman from one of the tapes early on in the main game — who wakes up to find himself strapped to a bed in a small, candlelit room. It turns out he’s being held hostage by Marguerite Baker, the mom of the family, who wants nothing more than for Clancy to lie still and eat the disgusting slop she serves.
Naturally, your first instinct is to get the hell out of there.
The room itself is one big puzzle. There are useful items and clues hidden about, and as soon as Marguerite leaves you can get up and search for an exit. The puzzles feel very Resident Evil: often cryptic, sometimes illogical, and generally pretty challenging. But given that there’s not much in the way of action in “Bedroom,” you at least get to take your time when it comes to finding solutions. Most of the time, that is.
What makes “Bedroom” different from other escape room experiences is that you’re not just searching for a way out, you’re also trying not to get caught. Some puzzle solutions will create noise — the scraping of a bed on the floor, the chime of a clock — which in turn will cause Marguerite to come running to see what’s going on. If you don’t want to piss her off, you’ll need to make sure everything is back where it was before you started exploring.
You only get around a minute to put things right, which leads to a frantic race to clean up the room and get back in bed before Marguerite arrives. When she does get there, all you can do is sit back and wait for her to scan the room. There are a lot of little things that could be out of place — a picture hanging in the wrong spot, a drawer left open — so even if you’re careful, there’s an agonizing moment before you realize she has or hasn’t seen something is amiss.
For the most part, this structure works great. “Bedroom” offers a near-perfect balance of puzzle-solving and sheer terror, and provides a really clever expansion of the formula laid down in Resident Evil 7. As with all puzzle-centric games, though, problems arise when you get stuck. I spent around 20 minutes struggling to decipher a poem in order to open a padlock, and it really killed the momentum of the game, especially since there wasn’t anything else for me to do. Similarly, when you die, you’re forced to go through the whole routine again. It’s a lot less scary when you already know what will happen.
“Banned Footage Vol. 1” is available on PlayStation 4 now for $9.99 (it won’t be on Xbox One and PC until the 21st). In addition to “Bedroom,” the add-on also includes a survival episode where Clancy spends an evening fighting off monsters, and a brutally challenging mode rightly titled “Ethan Must Die.” Both are decent diversions, but “Bedroom” is the real highlight of the experience. It still feels like RE7, but it’s different enough that it’s not just more of the same. Plus, it’s the best chance to get nice and close with Marguerite, the coziest member of the Baker clan.