Resident Evil 7 saw Capcom's classic survival horror franchise make a triumphant return to form, ditching the awkward shooter-heavy style of the more recent installments and becoming genuinely scary again.
#ResidentEvil7 is a labor of love, and its affection for the roots of the franchise go much deeper than its core gameplay. In fact, it's stuffed full of subtle easter eggs and callbacks to Resident Evil's 20-year history. These clues can be easy to miss, but here are some of the hidden references in the game that are sure to delight true Resident Evil fans:
References To The Original 1989 Inspiration For The Series
Resident Evil's history goes back a long way. Series creator Tokuro Fujiwara's first hit was actually a 1989 game called Sweet Home, an NES adaptation of a movie of the same name, in which a documentary film crew investigated a haunted mansion. Sweet Home was praised for its level design and genuinely scary horror elements, and is considered a pioneer of survival horror.
The first Resident Evil originally began development in 1993 as a remake of Sweet Home with 3D graphics but was eventually reworked into the Resident Evil we know and love today.
However, Resident Evil 7 cheekily pays homage to the series origins in the form of several VHS tapes that are scattered throughout the game. These tapes allow you to control and play whatever footage is available. One of the first you can find has you take on the role of Clancy Jarvis, cameraman for Sewer Gators—a show in which the host investigates spooky locations, just like in the plot of Sweet Home.
The Ghosts Are An Easter Egg Of The 'Sweet Home' Haunted House Story
When Beginning Hour demo dropped, longtime Resident Evil fans lost their minds after they discovered the presence of ghostly apparitions.
Now, there's an explanation for this haunting that makes sense in-game, but the presence of ghosts is also another nod to Sweet Home, in which the supernatural threat was actually a poltergeist-type spirit.
When Capcom began work on a Sweet Home remake, the game featured more supernatural foes, but when director Shinji Mikami was thinking about how to implement melee combat and grappling he stumbled upon George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, and was instantly inspired. They switched from ethereal ghosts to more visceral zombies, changing the franchise forever.
After all, do you think Resident Evil would've taken off to such a degree if it was entirely ghost-focused?
Shout-Out To The Original 'Resident Evil'
The Spencer Mansion was the true star of Resident Evil, an iconic character in itself. Given how much of the action takes place indoors, it's easy to forget the location of the Mansion itself, nestled away in the Arklay Mountains.
Look around the foyer of the new Baker mansion and you'll discover that the family have hung up an idyllic shot of the Arklay Mountains, dated July 7, 1991.
The image predates the events of the first game, before zombie hell was unleashed, but it also serves as a callout to the original Resident Evil movie, in which director Paul W.S. Anderson included a brief shot of the mountains as his own easter egg for video game fans.
The Name Is Itself An Easter Egg
Biohazard was the original name for Resident Evil in Japan, and Capcom wanted it to be the name of the franchise worldwide. Unfortunately, not only was the word impossible to copyright in the west, but there was already a DOS game of the same name out there.
After some discussion, Capcom left Biohazard behind and settled on the rather tongue in cheek Resident Evil...'cos they're in a house, geddit? That said, it's taken 20 years and but now the official name for RE7 is Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The series' original name has finally crossed the ocean.
It could be a sign that Capcom is tired of living the double life and wants to establish Biohazard as part of the franchise's global identity. But after all these years, Resident Evil has quite a reputation of its own, even if it started as a joke.
Minor Characters From The Canon Make An Appearance
So you might be aware that a major main character shows up towards the end of Resident Evil 7, but there are much more subtle clues to characters from the Resident Evil canon hidden in the Baker mansion.
For one thing, you can find a book called 'The Unveiled Abyss' by author Clive R. O'Brian, the head of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance from the first Resident Evil: Revelations spin-off game. Despite the trauma he experienced during the game, it seems he's found a way to cash in on his story.
Then there's a newspaper in the mansion's foyer with a story credited to Alyssa Ashcroft. Ashcroft is a reporter and main character from another spin-off, Resident Evil: Outbreak.
It's good to know that although not the focus of the series, these characters still continue to be part of its world, lending themselves to subtle environmental storytelling.
Wesker Lives! In Gun Form, Anyway...
The 'Albert-01' is a secret weapon found towards the end of the game and a clear reference to Albert Wesker; a popular long-running series antagonist who finally met his end at the conclusion of Resident Evil 5.
The powerful gun closely resembles Albert Wesker's customized 9mm Beretta 92F, the Samurai Edge, and it even has the 'S.T.A.R.S' engraving on the side, a nod to Wesker's initial role as a double agent in the squad.
Fans have wondered if this weapon foreshadows a future appearance by Wesker himself. In Resident Evil things rarely stay dead.
Raccoon City Stories
While exploring the crashed tanker in the swamp you can find a magazine which mentions the fate of Raccoon City. Even 16 years after the events of Resident Evil 2, the place is still struggling.
The article is dated 2014, so it's a handy reference for the series timeline. Factoring the three years between the boat crashing and Ethan going after Mia, you can confirm that the events of Resident Evil 7 take place in 2017.
Resident Evil Was Intended To Be First Person From The Start
The references to Sweet Home aren't the only easter eggs tied to the earliest days of Resident Evil. Although the series did go first-person in both Resident Evil: Survivor and Dead Aim's combat segments, the franchise is known for its consistent 3rd person view. But it wasn't meant to be that way.
Now Loading joins Capcom in celebrating 20 years of Resident Evil with our rundown of the scariest Resident Evil bosses:
When the original Resident Evil was in development, it mimicked the first person mechanics of 1989's Sweet Home. There were two reasons behind the decision to switch to third-person. One was because creator Shinji Mikami played 1992's Alone in the Dark and was impressed by its effectiveness. The other was more technical. The PS1's hardware couldn't handle first-person gameplay at a decent frame rate, so a third person view with pre-rendered static backgrounds ended up being a better solution.
RE7's return to the roots digs even deeper than we realized, as even series 'innovations' like the first-person perspective end up being surprisingly old-school when you know the franchise's early history. Finally, after 20 years, Capcom has made the first person survival horror they aimed for all along.
Have you noticed more easter eggs and references in RE7? Let us know in the comments!