Most pertinently, Resident Evil 7 has not been mentioned, announced or alluded to in even the most vague of conversation-snippets. Not even when we got Mr. Capcom utterly drunk that night, and he shuffled home from Egotastic Towers amid a dense miasma of vodka-and-piss stench. Sans pants. (which did not happen. Even slightly.) Nor is it plausibly going to be for some time, with the sixth iteration having only been expelled from Satan’s sweaty anus onto our consoles this past October.
As such, there is ample scope to engage the speculation-o-meter. Where, prithee, is Resident Evil going? (‘down the shitter,’ allege some on these here interwebs. The same enterprising souls, we’d wager, who assembled an elite force of Nerdsassins to invade the developer’s HQ at midnight and shit in the wastebins after Resident Evil 6.) The much-maligned issue with recent installments is their lack of due deference to the franchise’s past.
Where in the name of Lucifer’s left bollock have our zombies gone? This the rallying cry of the ardent Evilers-turned-malcontents (or something to that effect, presumably). The first release, replete with Nineties cataract-y blurriness as it was, introduced many of the terror-tropes that would become synonymous with survival horror (not Alone in the Dark, because it sucked monkey scrote), and these same qualities appear to be systematically diminished or dispensed with upon each new iteration.
How much ‘horror,’ after all, was there to be found in Resident Evils 5 and 6? Meticulous Ego-science concludes: slightly less than shit-all. Chris ‘Check Out My Humongous Hollywood-infused Actiontastic Nutsack’ Redfield Goes to Africa and Y’know, That New One were competent-if-generic gun-flailing romps, we’ll concede. This was a route, nonetheless, that the franchise hadn’t traversed before. A route, moreover, littered with soda cans, medical waste and massive stinking shits left by passing wildlife.
The classic stealth-ing stealthily through stealthtastically dark corridors wonderment has been largely excised. We no longer cower before our televisions, legs soaked with terror-urine (your gaming experiences may vary) pondering tremulously, What’s around that corner? The sentiment now is more akin to, I know what’s around that corner. Several angry men to shoot in the genitals.
Which is not, as we’re sure you’ll attest, the same thing at all.
To curtail the piss-taking momentarily, it’s also true that Resident Evil circa 1996 constituted a range of archaic mechanics, which would surely been incessantly middle-fingered by players today. Our protagonists, members of a much-vaunted elite force of soldierly bad-asses from the planet Holy Shit, moved and aimed their weapons with all the grace and poise of a one-legged, lobotomized chihuahua. A necessary evil to accommodate our moronically-shambling compatriots, the zombies.
In this regard, our assailants sucked equal quantities of ass. Did you see Jill Valentine or her undead foes at last year’s olympics, crushing Usain Bolt’s track record into the dust before mockingly waving their genitals at him from the finish line as he lumbers along in their wake? You did not. If you could deftly dash away from these rotting bastards, they’d be about as threatening as an OAP cruising towards you at three-eighths of a kilometer per hour on a mobility scooter, pulling a grrrr face. As it was, you were on equal par.
With the liberating camera shenanigans and laser-aiming of Resident Evil 4 onwards, our augmented athletics are matched by our enemies. The Ganados of the fourth game, the Majini of the fifth and the latest bunch of bastards, Resident Evil 6's J’avo, don’t eff around. All have the capacity to climb, run, ambush and generally kick you in the dickas the whim takes them. Similarly, this was a necessity to accommodate the new mechanics, but the atmosphere of threat, claustrophobia and lingering uncertainty is mitigated as a result. In recent years, then, Capcom have wandered (drunk again, presumably) further and further into generic shooter-ville. The opponents are uglier bastards than the usual genre-fare, but this is increasingly becoming the only distinction betwixt them.
Capcom is, naturellement, a corporation. They know that action sells. As does sex. (Heed our counsel, business-bastards of the world! Some kind of sexy-action hybrid would leave you bathing in dollar bills for the rest of you lives!) Survival horror as we knew it died on its ass some time ago -with some abomination or other chewing on its face, we’d venture- and any prospective Resident Evil 7 is unlikely to harken back to the festering, undead halfwits of yore. A cameo appearance, a la Leon’s campaign in the latest installment, is probable.