Resident Evil 7 had absolutely perfect pacing – and it’ll be tough for Village to beat

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Resident Evil 7 isn’t perfect, but if you ask me, it’s damn close.

That’s part of the Resident Evil Village challenge – it’s not just about keeping up with an entire beloved series, but also about one specific excellent game – one that twisted or subverted various franchise traditions. But do you know what is the best thing in Resident Evil 7? The creep of power.


Power creep is a standard feature of most video games, of course. As you progress through a game, you get better abilities or gear and face bigger and harder challenges. Genres where this is not present are quite rare, such as fighting games. In general, however, it is always present – in some genres more subtle than others.

This gradual progression can easily feel cheap and undeserved – whether in the sense of a once-powerful character losing their power at the start of a new adventure (hey, Samus!), or simply in that newly-created feeling of power. unearned gain. But in Resident Evil 7, the growth of protagonist Ethan’s abilities and the way he dictates the game’s pacing and tone is sublime – and it’s going to be tough for Resort RE8 match.

RE7 was of course something of a soft reboot, featuring only minimal elements from older Resident Evil titles. In this, the progression also follows: it feels like the player is following the full trajectory of the Resident Evil series over the course of the game. You start out scared, briefly unarmed, then only with the weaker guns. You run away from enemies with fear and open all doors with concern.

However, through a combination of gear and understanding what you’re up against, your skills grow. In the penultimate hours of RE7, you are a true commando, ready to take down beasts and monsters. Ethan doesn’t hit a rock like Chris would, but by the end of the game you might feel like he could.

The escalation here fits the series in general, ranging from slow walking around a mansion in fear to kicking zombies into faster-paced action. Written down, it doesn’t look any different than your average video game progress, but something about running in RE7 does feel different.

It may be due to the way the game handles. Ethan isn’t a trained soldier, and so there’s a looseness to his aiming, shooting, and general movement that’s unlike most first-person games. This helps reinforce the dread in the early stages of the game where you don’t feel equipped to handle what you’re up against, but it also means that later on, once you’re ready, something still feels distinctly rookie about it. . protagonist. He just managed to tinker with the equipment – he didn’t really become a super soldier.

There is also a brilliantly used flashback. Our protagonist grows as he takes on the Baker family. It’s a blank slate of a character, but his dialogue nonetheless ranges from abject terror of the bakers to their verbal defiance, reflecting his confidence in everything the player has learned and gathered on the journey so far. And then comes the flashback.

The flashback is a microcosm of the rest of the game – starting out slowly but quickly evolving into the use of machine guns and remote-controlled explosives. It serves vital story purposes, but also functions almost like a second tutorial that tells you the horror is over, setting you up for an action-packed finale for the game.

By the time the player’s perspective shifts back to Ethan and the present, he’s mentally prepared for what’s to come. Ethan’s final push into an underground mine, then back to the house where it all began for a final showdown, practically feels like a different game. This is where RE7 channels RE4-6, after all a channeling game of a more bootstrapped survival horror experience. That said, it doesn’t look like it should work – but it does. This RE7 finale is cathartic and exciting – and in many ways completes Ethan’s journey from every man to true Resident Evil protagonist, unphased by the madness of this universe. It also completes what is, for my money, a masterclass in video game rhythm in a mechanical sense.

That’s why it’s relevant now and why Resident Evil Village has such a daunting task ahead of it. What RE7 was for the original game, Village seems to be for the much more action-oriented RE4. We’ve already seen towering giant enemies, a merchant with a wide range of upgradable weapons, and what feels like generally more frantic combat. It all makes sense; it stars the same character, and while it’s a pretty boring blank slate, it would be silly for Ethan to go back.

But one wonders if the real magic of those first two-thirds of RE7, where the player is helpless and weak, but gradually pushes his way out of the dirt, will be impossible to replicate. Maybe RE8 is going for something different out of the gate. After delivering RE7, I have faith in Capcom and this team, and I can’t wait to see what they do with the rhythm of Village.

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