An abandoned house. Claustrophobic darkness. Found footage showing vague deaths at the hands of unseen antagonists.
Resident Evil 7's official demo, available on PSN for PS Plus subscribers and for members of the games press at E3, contained plenty of references to supernatural elements, but director Koshi Nakanishi promises the series' trademark zombies will still be present.
"I think you can look at the trailer or the demo and get that impression, but don't worry, we haven't just thrown out Resident Evil as it exists and turned it into a ghost story. It will all make sense in the end," Nakanishi said in an interview posted on Capcom Unity (via IGN).
Nakanishi went on to provide clarification. The Resident Evil franchise stands atop five pillars: horror, exploration, solving puzzles, juggling scarce resources, and fighting (or fleeing from) monsters. The game's demo was orchestrated to highlight exploration and horror—a message Capcom needed to communicate front and center, as the past few RE games have strayed far from series roots.
Information on how Resident Evil 7 incorporates the remaining three pillars may come in advance of the game's January 2017 release... or not at all, leaving players to find out for themselves next winter. "We need to have a bit of mystery in survival horror, so we're trying to make you wonder when you play it how could this possibly be connected? That's part of the appeal."
One thing's for sure, though. Capcom is doing its best to distance RE7 from certain mechanics that frustrated large segments of players. "Also I just want to say one last message: There will be no Quick Time Events in Resident Evil 7 [laughs]. I know there are a lot of people who will be relieved to hear that."