Resident Evil 7 Definitely Got The Doors Right

You know what's scary? A closed door. Anything could be on the other side of that door, man. Are you sure you even want to open it?

Resident Evil 7 has really good doors. It also has a lot of doors. You'll encounter dozens of them as you make your way through the Baker family's run-down mansion. There are metal doors that require sculpted keys, and wooden doors overgrown with horrific mould. There are doors adorned with dead scorpions, and doors marked with dead birds. There are secret doors, and doors that don't actually look like doors, and doors that only open if you make the right shadow puppet on a nearby wall.

In order to open one of this game's doors, you can either press the "use" button, which automatically opens it partway, or you can just physically push through. The latter option is easier and more intuitive, and you're definitely going to have to shoulder your way through a few doors before you reach the credits.

The more I play, the more I'm struck by the variety of ways you can go through a door in this game. For example, you can open the door partway, then turn around and back your way into the next room:

You can push a door open, briefly hesitate, then soldier through:

You can barge through a sturdy set of double-doors, knocking them both open:

Or you can cautiously push a door partway open, shouldering it the rest of the way with your pistol at the ready:

It's all really well done, and unusually responsive to your inputs. Because I can physically control the speed at which I push doors open, it didn't take long for me to start thinking of them as actual doors.

I get the sense that this kind of thing is pretty hard to do -- the subtle way your "eyes" refocus, the way Ethan's hand appears to push (or stop pushing) the door out of the way as you move him forward or hesitate. The Resident Evil series is already known for its famous (infamous?) doors, and these new doors were almost surely the result of a lot of careful toil and consideration. I bet there was a whole team that worked on them. Month after month, just getting those doors nice and polished. We can't ship until the doors are working, guys. Gotta pull some overtime and finish up the doors.

Resident Evil 7's door animations aren't just window dressing -- they play an important role in the game's overall effect. I've written in the past about horror game "Nope" moments, and how scary games hinge on those moments when you're talking yourself into opening a door and facing the thing on the other side. In order for a door to be scary, it must first convincingly be a door. Resident Evil 7's doors are both convincing and scary.

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Comments

    Yes! I once thought Jack was upstairs and went bursting through the doors to go back to the first safe room. I was wrong, and I just caught a glimpse of him as the doors opened. It was quite a fright.

    There's another instance later on in the second floor but I don't wanna talk about the moment I shit my pants.

      That's kind of the reason one of the achievements is called "Densely Packed Trousers".

      There is also another call "Iron Mind", awarded if you finish the game in two hours without even flinching and wearing a VR headset.

      :-P

      Last edited 02/02/17 2:43 pm

    I still hold Amnesia's doors/drawers as the pinnacle of immersive interaction in a horror game hold the mouse down, and the door's motion mimics your mouse fairly precisely; move the mouse quickly, the door opens quickly; move the mouse a little, the door will open a crack.

    That said, it wouldn't really work as well with a controller, nor would it suit RE's faster pace during its second half, so RE7's approach is more than adequate; tho I did end up barging through a lot of doors and getting stuck when the door only opened partway, and took an age to open completely.

      Agreed, Amnesia did doors perfectly and also used them very well as a panic device (you know the game play section I'm talking about)

        Considering Amnesia TDD is the only game to ever scare me enough to make me stop playing (normally horror games don't bother me, and I'll only stop due to frustration or boredom), I may not... unless you're talking about a certain rather damp corridor?

        TDD scared me more with its mechanics than its neat jump-scares or even its amazingly oppressive atmosphere - hiding in the dark depletes sanity, but the light draws attention; trying to determine if the monster could see you attracted its attention (and also depleted your sanity, iirc?), forcing you into situations where the mechanics literally imposed a real risk on figuring out whether you should run or stay hidden... Heisenberg's horror mechanics: determining how safe you are changes how safe you actually are.

          Yeah, that certain corridor ;)

          I'm exactly the same regarding turning the game off due to fear. I love scary/horror games, but TDD was so fear intensive that I found it was actually physically stressful to play, especially the first 2 or 3 hours. I don't think I played for more than 30 minutes at a time for that first 3 hours until I understood the mechanics a little better, then the last 4 or 5 hours were just an amazing, psychologically terrifying experience.

    I've only watched people play the game and it always looked like the doors were really clunky to get through. Maybe it was just the person playing but it always seemed to require two or three pushes to actually get the door to open. It's also kind of naff that no one bar a few characters can open a door and closing a door also despawns enemies.

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