Resident Evil 7 is a perfect example of how to innovate with a franchise while retaining its core legacy. Slow, deliberate movement, limited supplies, meaningful backtracking, tense atmospheres – elements like these are core pillars to the survival horror series. It’s universally acknowledged that the two previous Resident Evil games abandoned them to varying degrees of severity, which catered to the en vogue, generic tastes of the gaming marketplace. Instead of playing it safe like the solid Revelations spin-offs, Resident Evil 7 circles back to this with an added radical change to the first-person perspective and a narrower, grounded narrative that doesn’t cling to the past.
That’s not to say it’s without its blunders. Underwhelming enemy variety and puzzles are key criticisms. Simple boss fights and a general absence of challenge (excluding Madhouse difficulty) due to autosaves and not enough emphasis on limited supplies are other problems players might have. Banned Footage Vol. 1 sees Capcom partially rectifying these concerns with three memorable albeit short-lived modes.
“Nightmare” stars Clancy Javis, who was the cameraman from the Beginning Hour demo. He was actually kidnapped by Jack after escaping the accursed residence and must fight the undead patriarch and a horde of Molded until the break of dawn. Like Five Nights at Freddy’s, you have to endure a round for each hour from 12 to 5 a.m., and it’s not a walk in the park. Weapons, ammo, first aid meds, and the like can be purchased by building up scrap, which is slowly accumulated with several compactors spread throughout the basement. These should be immediately activated to keep pace with ever-dwindling supplies and needed upgrades as foes keep coming.
It’s a brilliant system because you have to be exceptionally thoughtful about where you expend your scrap, especially since constant needs like ammo ramp up in cost each time you buy some. Is it worth throwing all of your initial funds into opening a door to get a third compactor running? Should you avoid the risk of having little weapons from the start to upgrade your health or a weapon? Are traps worth setting up if you can save for faster movement and reloading speed?
Frugal inventory management and financing sensibility are demanded since you need to plan ahead for lengthy bouts with Jack where the compactors stop functioning. If you do well, it’s feasible to beat in a matter of hours, given that your score for each session culminates into a total that – when meeting specific thresholds – grants more weapons and items to buy the next time you jump in. It may take place in a recycled area and lose its novelty in a few hours, but it provides an unrelenting, intense experience the campaign delivered in light bursts. Should you want a greater challenge, the harder version called “Night Terrors” will see to that.
“Bedroom” also features poor Clancy, who just can’t seem to catch a break. Marguerite has him chained up to feed him her special “suppers,” but what she doesn’t know is that Clancy can free himself to walk around this single room when she leaves. Indeed, the whole episode is spent in this confined area, and while it’s disappointing that exploring every nook and cranny only lasts an hour, it’s one heck of an hour. Wits and observational skills are all you have, so you’ll be analyzing paintings, checking drawers, experimenting with odd trinkets, and more to get out. Think of this as a slightly more substantial version of Lucas’ Party Room from the campaign. However, there’s a twist that makes it more thrilling.
Marguerite’s ears will perk up when you make too much noise. With a whole minute’s notice to get back in bed, I chuckled at the time limit as I lied down and waited. What caught me off guard is that she notices if you’ve misplaced or altered the room’s arrangements. I embarrassingly died making this mistake twice, which suddenly made that time limit way more stressful. Instead of only figuring out present problems, you have to memorize the layout of the room as well. It provides ample tension as you double-check everything to ensure the illusion you never lifted a finger. When it’s all said and done, there may be no replay value, but it’s the most memorable part of this package for the clever design it invokes.
Lastly, there’s “Ethan Must Die.” Your task is to guide the eponymous protagonist through the Baker mansion to find a key so you can go defeat Marguerite. The catch is that the sky is blood red, foreshadowing the ruthless, countless deaths that await. You can be killed in one to two hits, which makes every single enemy a true threat. Your only means of acquiring items or equipment is through crates, and since their contents are randomly generated and spawned, you could acquire four weapons within the first two minutes or five chem fluids. The setting may also be recycled, but the devious placements of foes and traps make it feel eerily foreign. What was once an open, empty room will suddenly go on lockdown, trapping you with vicious Molded until they’re vanquished.
It’s appropriate to compare this mode to From Software’s unforgiving library of death simulators despite how overplayed that comparison may be. Half of your survival depends on quick thinking and skill, but the other half relies on lady luck unless you have preexisting knowledge of what’s around every corner. Trial and error is the name of the game, so no matter how masterful you are, everything ahead of where you perished last is uncharted territory. The more comfortable you get with what you’ve already explored, the more apprehensive you become when you step back into the fearful unknown. It’s not for everyone since it can be quite frustrating, but for those who adore this style of gameplay, Ethan Must Die might just be the most fulfilling, nerve-wracking experience you can have with Resident Evil 7 if you persevere believing Ethan must live.
This DLC may last a short while, but it illustrates that quantity doesn’t always determine quality. All three modes push the game’s puzzle-solving and combat to improved lengths, so there’s a good selection of things on sale here, stranger.
By individually ramping up areas where Resident Evil 7's gameplay could’ve done more, Banned Footage Vol. 1 serves a light yet savory plate of pickings, which pile up the puzzles on one side and bring the heat with testing trials on the other.
- Combat is More Intense and Unrelenting
- Better Puzzles Combined With A Neat AI Twist
- Clancy's Back
- Low Replay Value
- Ethan Must Die is an Acquired Taste