Resident Evil 7's Architectural Decisions
- by Ninja Ross, 1 September 2016
The Spencer Mansion, from the first Resident Evil game, was stupid. It was full of traps, doors that had puzzles to solve before opening, special keys hidden in stupid places and a graveyard among other things that a mansion doesn't really need. Nobody needs to play a piano to open a backroom, right?
Capcom recently released a short demo of the upcoming Resident Evil 7: Biohazard game. The demo itself was titled Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour and followed an unnamed protagonist as he made his way through a small house owned by the Baker family. A house full of flies, rotting animal carcasses and and an attic full of creepy mannequins.
Now the demo was real cool, lots of jumps and a good, tense atmosphere.. Capcom are clearly taking advantage of Konami's decision to axe Silent Hills, as they've jumped straight onto the first person claustrophobic creepy horror vibe. There's a lot of movements in shadows, very nice lighting effects and the story, said to be completely separate from the full game, was intriguing and made for a good build up.
But this grotty little wooden house? Nah. That's disgraceful and it's an insult to George Trevor, the architect behind the Spencer Mansion. Sure, it's creepy! It's a good, strong horror setting! But it's not infuriating. It's not needlessly complex. It's... Logical. Normal. It's a house.
George Trevor was commissioned to design the Spencer Mansion as well as the underground base. He put tiger eye puzzles in there, he locked doors with shields, he stuck hidden rooms around the place and so on. It's like a macabre Wayne Mansion.
Unfortunately, Trevor didn't exactly get treated well by his employers. George, his wife Jessica and their daughter Lisa lived at the mansion for a while. And by "lived", I mean held captive.
Desperately trying to find his family and help them escape, George found himself beaten and drugged up, trying to escape through his own secret underground tunnels before dying because he was too doped up to figure out his own stupid, pointless yet engaging puzzles.
Meanwhile, Jessica was killed when exposed to the Type A variation of the Progenitor virus while Lisa was exposed to the type B variation, turning her into an insane, virtually indestructible monster. She killed her hostile guards and wore their faces while trying to find her dead mother. Things didn't work out so well for the Trevor family at all. They must make the Torrance family feel safe and normal.
Resident Evil 2's Raccoon City Police Department was way worse than the Spencer Mansion, though. It had similar ridiculous puzzles and running around, but this is a police station! It's all well and good to put that crap in your own home/testing facility, but it's weird putting that in a police station.
The building is a former art museum, which is why the place is filled with statues and paintings that don't belong in a police station. Yeah, it all looks nice, but when the puzzles, riddles and hidden keys and rooms are thrown in, you start to worry about the safety of Raccoon City BEFORE the zombie outbreak.
Imagine a bank heist or a crazy homeless guy with a rusty knife running around. The cops get a call and they have to activate a fountain, open up a secret entrance behind a painting and find the right key just to get out of their office. Then there's getting into the armoury! I doubt leaving the car park would be as simple as flashing I.D, either. You'd probably have to reverse over hidden pressure switches in 3rd gear and park a separate car in another car park just to open the gate. By the time anyone gets there, all that'd be left to do is clean the blood off the walls. No wonder Umbrella keep getting away with this shit.
Not only that, Resident Evil 2's Police Station is famous for having a load of dead space when attempting to overlay the gameplay maps of the building with the building's exterior model. Like the place was just thrown together. The place doesn't even have any rest rooms. What does that tell you about the mental stability of Raccoon City's architects?
And that's just the first two. They stand out as the most ridiculous, but let's not forget Resident Evil 4's European medieval setting with evil villagers and ominous castle.
As easy as it is to make fun of Resident Evil's "quirky" settings, they're still loads of fun and it's always satisfying when you solve a vague puzzle that takes a while to make sense.
But whoever designed the Baker household learned nothing from the likes of George Trevor. He just threw together some room designs like a normal architect would. I bet he even used a ruler and made the most of the space available or whatever. Thinking about where the sun would shine on what windows. Focusing on ideal gutters and draft proofing...
First Hour has you trying to escape the house and, to do so, you need to find a key to the back door. Before you can do that, you need to watch the video tape left behind by a film crew during a "Most Haunted" style shoot that went horribly wrong.
To get the video tape, you need to find the bolt cutters to get into the locked cupboard. When you find the bolt cutters, you have to... use them on the lock. That's it. If George Trevor designed this place, you'd have to put those bolt cutters in the hands of a statue of an ancient bike thief, just so you can get a bike shaped key that gets you a golden inner tube that you put in a special lock on the cupboard. The only saving grace is you can't simply smash windows open with the bolt cutters. But that's more of a limitation than a needlessly complicated riddle.
Stupidly logical building! Stairs that go places they're supposed to go! Paintings that do nothing!!! But still a very cool demo that really hypes up Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. It looks like we're getting a very different Resident Evil this time around and that could be a very welcome change. While it's going to get constant comparisons to Silent Hill's P.T demo, that isn't really a bad thing. First person horror like this is rarely a disappointment and it'll be interesting to see how it fits in with the Resident Evil Franchise.
How disappointed were you in Resident Evil 7's architectural decisions? Let us know in the comments!
Tagged: video games.