A few weeks ago, Capcom revealed Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, an all-new entry in the seminal survival horror franchise. To coincide with the announcement, a playable demo called Beginning Hour was free to download for all PS4 owners.
Early impressions of the demo were straightforward; it was relatively brief, easily beaten in about 10-15 minutes, with a handful of teases thrown in for good effect.
But like Konami’s infamous Silent Hills tie-in P.T., the demo for Resident Evil 7 had many, many secrets tucked away within the dilapidated walls of the mansion in which it’s set. There were mystery doors, several items with no apparent purpose, hints scattered throughout the environment, and tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it clues giving fans an idea of what they could expect from the eventual release of Resident Evil 7.
Much of it has yet to be confirmed, but the mystery surrounding the many aspects of the demo have led people to message boards and forums to share their theories and speculation (particlularly Reddit). Some are completely valid, while others are so outlandishly crazy they might just be true. We’ll let you be the judge.
*Demo Spoilers Ahead*
The RE7 demo starts with you playing as an unknown protagonist waking up on the filthy floor of a seemingly abandoned house. We’re given no clues as to who this person is, why they’re there, or what has happened in the home. All we know is it’s messed up.
The house is seemingly falling apart. Paint and wallpaper are peeled off the walls, sections of drywall are missing, blood and viscera are streaked across the floor, half-rotten mystery animal corpses are squished against the side of a wall near the back door, and spoiled food can be found scattered around the kitchen.
As you walk around, you discover items that eventually lead to you finding a VHS tape. Pop it into the VCR in the living room, and you’ll be transported into a found footage section starring three unknown men approaching the same house in the demo for a show they’re filming. Naturally, things go horribly wrong after they’ve entered, and the tape ends with the discovery of one of the men’s corpses and the footage being cut out and losing signal.
Do some more walking around, and eventually you’ll get one of two endings. You’ll find a key to the back door and attempt to go out, or you’ll find your way to the attic and take a cryptic phone call from a mysterious woman. Either way, both demos end with the player character being greeted by a bearded, bloodstained man spawning behind them and yelling “Welcome to the family, son!” before delivering a knockout blow to the face. Cut to black, and that’s the end of the demo.
Seems straightforward, right? It is, but like The Stanley Parable, there’s more to it, depending on what you do and where you go.
Several items can be picked up in the demo, although some of them do not yet have any apparent use. However, that hasn’t prevented anyone from forming theories and spending hours attempting to interact with every inch of the environment.
Bolt cutters - These are used to open the chain locking the cabinet door shut in the hallway leading up the stairs. Once this cabinet has been opened, you’ll find the dilapidated VHS copy to watch in the VCR in the living room. This VHS is the one showing the ill-fated expedition those three men went on in the past.
VHS tape - put it in, and you’ll find yourself transported to a whole new found-footage section of the game taking place prior to your current position.
Dummy Finger - This one has legitimately stumped many avid RE7 players. There is an object in the small cabinet at the foot of the stairs called the dummy finger. It’s a grossly discolored finger apparently belonging to a dummy, although there’s no apparent use to it at all.
In fact, those who signed up for the ambassador’s program for RE 7 were sent an email more or less confirming more regarding the Dummy Finger would be revealed at another time. Based on the position of where the finger is pointing and the blood stain lies (as well as the date written on the calendar), it’s likely we’ll see a part two to this demo utilizing the unusable items found within Beginning Hour.
(*NOTE: There are some who have seen the finger rotate on its own while in close-up view mode, freezing in place like it’s pointing in a general direction. Many have written this off as nothing more than a silly bug, however, so it’s very possible there’s little to no purpose behind the finger’s sporadic movement.)
Backdoor key - The backdoor key opens the backdoor. Nothing too surprising or unusual here, but it should be noted that attempting to leave the backdoor will result in Family Man catching up to you.
Fuse - After activating the hidden doorway, you’ll find a fuse resting on the table near the pit where our friends in the video footage met their doom. Put this in the missing slot in the fuse box near the living room, and you’ll power the red “stairs” button on the second floor. This lowers the staircase leading to the attic, where you’ll receive several phone calls and eventually come to meet Family Man in the same punch-face scenario.
Axe - After picking up the lockpick on the floor next to the microwave in the video sequence, the drawers in the cabinet directly across the room can be unlocked and opened. There’s nothing in there in the video segment, but re-visit it later, and you’ll find an axe that can be picked up and brandished as a weapon.
There’s not much that can be done with it, however; some of the boxes and creepy mannequins in the attic can be chopped apart, but that appears to be about it. Not even Family Man can be harmed by it. Perhaps it will make more sense if there’s a second demo incoming.
Sure, there are spooky hillbillies hiding out in this house, but let’s not forget the myriad unsolved mysteries contained within.
Ghost Girl - During the VHS video segments, there’s a chance you’ll encounter the ghost of a young woman in one of seven locations. It’s only for a fraction of a second, but she’s definitely there, watching our ill-fated heroes as they investigate the house. Who is she? Where did she come from? We still have no idea, although it seems like there will be some occult and paranormal elements to Resident Evil 7. Never fear, though; this will still very much be about zombies.
Phone Calls - Once you’ve activated the staircase and made your way upstairs, the phone will ring. Once answered, you’ll hear a woman’s voice deliver a cryptic message.There are three different messages the player can get:
-”I know who you are. Memories hold the truth. Don’t let appearances mislead you.”
-”I know who you are. You have the power to choose. But the outcome of that choice may not be what you expect.”
-”I know who you are. You will have to say goodbye eventually. But will you be ready?”
Theories suggest these messages hint at the content of the demo itself; the memories of games past, the ability to choose which ending to trigger in the demo, the eventual notion of having to completely finish the demo and walk away until there’s more content to dig through. It’s a bit of a stretch, but then, who knows?
The Attic Door - There’s a boarded-up door in the attic at the end of a short hallway that has occasionally glitched out for a handful of players and revealed a room behind it. It cannot be opened in any way during the Beginning Hour demo, so this is likely just a glitch. But, the door is ominously lit and highlighted like there’s something important to remember about it.
Photo - In the attic, there’s a photo next to the phone depicting a helicopter with what looks like the Umbrella Corporation logo painted on the side. On the back of the photo is a short message reading “Are they watching us from the helicopter?” Any attempts to find a helicopter in the sky, however, have proven unsuccessful in the demo itself, so it’s likely this is just a tease to confirm Umbrella is once again up to no good.
Textures - There are a handful of mysterious-looking textures on display in the house, including what looks like an upwards-pointing arrow scratched deep into the surface of some of the bookshelves and four stars on the floor of the kitchen. It’s possible these are just randomly-placed textures in the environment that have been given deeper meaning, but there are some who theorize the four stars represent Resident Evil characters Jill, Barry, Chris, and Rebecca. The arrows themselves point upward toward the ceiling, and it doesn’t appear there’s anything to interact with beyond that.
Mannequins - There’s a trio of creepy mannequins in the attic who start off with their backs to you, but then turn around once the staircase button has been activated. A fourth will then spawn behind you out of nowhere. There doesn’t appear to be any real purpose to the mannequins other than being very, very unsettling.
Voodoo Dolls - In one of the rooms on the main floor, there are seven crudely made voodoo dolls strung up to the ceiling. Seven is a running theme throughout the demo; there are seven locations where the ghost girl will appear, a “7” scrawled in red marker on the box beneath the television, and these seven dolls, among others. Which is probably insignificant on its own other than tying into the title of the game.
However, the dolls may be more than just creepy set dressing like the mannequins. Reddit user sheebz91 has a theory tying together the cryptic phone calls to a Louisiana Voodoo ritual. It’s definitely a long shot, but there’s enough to go on here that it’s at least an interesting theory:
Growls - There’s a point toward the end of the demo where walking past a door will trigger the horrible sounds of a growling creature. You can’t interact with it, although it’s possible these noises are coming from the zombie-like creature spotted in one of the final frames at the horrific end of the VHS footage.
Beginning Hour - So, what exactly does “Beginning Hour” mean? We know for a fact this demo will not be in the core game of Resident Evil 7 and stands on its own. But, could this be the precursor to the events leading to the original Resident Evil? Or, is this merely called the Beginning Hour because it’s the first glimpse we’ve had of the game?
Although we don’t have much to go on based on this demo, there are still many theories and estimations to be found. Some theorize this takes place before the series’ official start, while others see it as a sequel to the events of Resident Evil 6. Here are some of the story speculations that tend to be the most popular.
Resident Evil 7 is all about The Family: It’s possible this demo heavily focuses on The Family, a shadowy organization from the previous Resident Evil games. The heavily mentioned “family” heard consistently throughout in both the game and the promotional material overwhelmingly suggests this possibility, although it’s difficult to tell exactly how everything ties in.
Humble Beginnings: It’s also possible Resident Evil 7 goes way, way back to the Arklay Mountains outside of Raccoon City, where everything started. But, it’s unclear exactly whether or not the climate and environment surrounding the house matches that of the Arklay Mountains.
Sweet Home: RE7 may be returning to even deeper roots than originally imagined, since it appears to be borrowing elements from the old Famicom horror game Sweet Home, the same game that heavily influenced the events of Resident Evil. Beginning Hour focuses on three men in a film crew, much like Sweet Home’s documentary crew sent to look for the paintings of a famous artist. Sweet Home focused on a vengeful and mournful ghost who kept the protagonists captive in her home; although we never interact with her, there’s very clearly a paranormal presence in the house here taking the shape of a young woman. Sweet Home’s story focused on a family torn apart by horrific circumstances when the mother loses her young son in a fire and eventually kills other children as a way to give her dead young one friends to play with.
Beginning Hour’s tragic tale isn’t quite as clear-cut as this one, but it does have some parallels. Once you’ve entered the house in the film, one of the film crew members mentions how the house was abandoned after a family went missing thanks to what they theorized was due to foul play. There’s also mention of a son named Lucas who is referred to as a “bad seed.” Is Lucas the infamous Family Man who punches you out at the endings of the demo? Or are there even darker things at play here? It’s hard to tell, but we’ll definitely learn more in the months leading up to Resident Evil 7’s release in early 2017.
Read our full Resident Evil 7 preview from E3 to learn more about why we see it as a new dawn for the franchise.