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When Resident Evil 7 started conceptualizing in February 2014 in Osaka, Japan, its developers wondered where the series would go. With the guidelines of "make it scary and fun," the focus shifted away from the action-centric additions as of late, and instead returned to its roots: survival horror. At the 2017 Game Developer’s Conference, director Koshi Nakanishi and Capcom senior manager Peter Fabiano led the talk “Reliving the Horror: Taking Resident Evil Forward by Looking Back,” where they outlined the ups and downs of Resident Evil 7’s development, and where the inspirations for the ominous Baker family came to life.
Among the dozens of small iterations of the game during pre-and-full-production, one thing that remained was the fact that the game would tone down the series’ familiar characters, and focus on a small new group: a family. “We incorporated horror subgenres into each of the family members,” Fabiano said, speaking on Nakanishi’s behalf. For example, with Marguerite, the “mother” figure of Resident Evil 7’s household, she embodied the essence of body horror. From the centipedes oozing out of her flesh and her role in the game’s story, she stands as the most squeamish-inducing family member of the bunch.
Fabiano offered more examples of the horror subgenre-embracing family members. Jack, the chainsaw-wielding ‘dad’ of the plantation, is nearly as cliched as any murderer you’d find in a slasher—and that’s intentional. He was modeled to be like a slasher film murderer. The same goes for Lucas, a character who opts for traps and taunts instead of chasing the player around the house; his personality and the ways his abilities manifest represent the quiet, calculated suspense of psychological horror.
Resident Evil 7, despite being a risky departure for the series, proved itself to be a success that Mike enjoyed; and at the very least, was a positive experiment in shifting the expectations of a major franchise. By creatively imbuing its characters with the subtle makings of the many facets of horror, Resident Evil 7 is, in a strange way, a love letter to the entire overarching genre. And as Nakanishi closed the talk with, despite all the development’s hardships, “With confidence, I can say that we achieved our vision.”