[On the Demo Floor] Resident Evil 8 – Maiden Demo

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Publisher: Capcom

Introducing: Resident Evil 8 Demo

I’m not a huge fan of the Resident Evil series. I haven’t played most of the games and it’s unfortunate to say the first one I did play was for my review of the re-release of Resident Evil 6. Not the best early impression. However, I did play Resident Evil 7 back when I first picked up my Playstation VR and, while I wasn’t able to finish the game entirely in the VR mode, it was certainly quite the experience for me. The fact that the game was really helpfully tooled to ease in new players, despite there being references that only older fans would get, was a great point for me to jump off from and has me curious to play the others in the series, even if I haven’t gotten around to it just yet.

However, this also meant that I was somewhat curious about Resident Evil 8. I’ve been seeing a lot about how it seems to lift a lot from Resident Evil 4 (which has always been strongly recommended to me) and how it looks like it’s going to be a real showcase for next-gen horror. I wasn’t completely sold on it, of course, but when the demo dropped on PS5, I was still willing to give it a shot.

The Maiden

So, this is called the “Maiden demo” and I don’t know if that is meant to imply that there are going to be more on the way after this, but what we were given was a really short and sweet teaser. It’s unclear if this is actually going to be a segment in the game itself, or is one of those cases where something was put together to showcase what the team is capable of without using real game segments, to avoid giving anything away. I’m more inclined to thinks that it is the latter given how it ends, but it could be the former, albeit very early on in the game itself. Either way, it only takes about 15 minutes or so to get through even if you are exploring or get a little turned around. It’s not a ton, but what is there is pretty nifty.

ASMR… But Yucky

I have to agree with those who are saying that the sound is what steals the show here. If you have a decent set of headphones, they’re worth putting on when you give this thing a whirl. If you have a set of surround sound ones, even better. I personally finally got my hands on one of Sony’s fancy Pulse 3D headsets the day that I played the demo so they were my first chance to give them a whirl and it was immensely immersive. The directional sound that they’ve set up in here is really great. I was able to tell where most sounds were coming from if they weren’t ones that surrounded me entirely. Perhaps one of the things that wowed me was that my footsteps would actually echo off the walls in an enclosed space, in a way that they didn’t when I was somewhere more open. The sound quality made the dripping noises of fluids in dank places viscerally uncomfortable. Like ASMR, but icky. 

Though the one moment that I am sure that everyone is going to rave about is the voice that speaks behind you if you have headphones on. I had heard about this already, but even I wasn’t expecting it. There was a moment where laughter seemed to come from all around me, and I thought that was the moment before moving on, slightly disappointed with it. Then I got to the point that was actually the moment, where a voice whispered to me just behind my shoulder and I actually squeaked out loud as I turned the camera around in-game to look. Nothing was there, of course, like any good spooky game. 

Got the Look?

The demo is visually fantastic. Environments are appropriately clean or dirty, dank or dusty. One thing I appreciated was the way things were able to be wet without being overly shiny, something that tends to take me out of some horror environments. Here, anything that had fresh blood on it, didn’t look like it had a layer of red chrome covering it up. There was also a nice level of design in the way that the game guided you from place to place, leaving enough room to feel like I wasn’t being shoved down a hallway, even though that is what the demo essentially does.

The character animations are great too. It’s really no wonder that half my twitter timeline is thirsting over the tall, well dressed, vampire lady. The way the characters move has a nice fluidity to it and looks just a touch more natural than it did in the initial trailer for the game, showing what a little dev time can do to smooth these things out. (Personally the old caretaker man who shoots at you in the trailer comes off just a touch uncanny valley for me.) I am still curious as to what things will look like in the final game, but for now, I think there has been some improvement.

Well, Look at That

I don’t know yet if I’m going to buy Resident Evil 8 on launch. Part of me feels like this one is going to be a lot less stand-alone than 7 was so I should beef up on some of my knowledge of the older games first. However, I do think that anyone who has access to the demo at this time should give it a try even if for the tricks they play with the sound alone. It’s a nice quick and dirty way to get a few spooks in too.