When Capcom announced a playable teaser for its just-announced Resident Evil 7 — a rethink of the increasingly loud and inert Resident Evil franchise — the parallels to P.T. and Silent Hills were unavoidable. And at first blush, the RE7 demo appeared to reward the same methodical, obsessive inquiry as P.T.
What’s this hand axe for? What about the mannequin finger? Are the headphones meaningful? After days of collaborative detective work, one member of the Resident Evil subreddit — in a post titled "How the entire Subreddit feels right now" — expressed his frustration with this scene:
Here’s the top-ranked post over the last 24 hours:
Where P.T. was a mystery all the way down — remember, it was some time before someone actually finished the demo and was able to share that this was a demo for Silent Hills — the Resident Evil 7 demo may be a much simpler creature, designed not to perplex but to introduce fans and would-be fans to a new approach for the series.
But that doesn’t mean it's all been figured out. The hand axe may very well be useless in the demo but what about the finger?
Was told by a Capcom rep that the RE7 demo is beatable. Said the axe doesn't have much use, but the dummy finger has a purpose.— Maximilian Dood (@maximilian_) June 15, 2016
What is that purpose? The subreddit doesn’t know! But there are ideas, like this one:
But wait, maybe there’s nothing to the axe or the finger after all? This is confusing.
Tough to get into RE7 VR. However, the Capcom guys told the finger/axe info wasn't entirely correct. Back to square one folks.— Maximilian Dood (@maximilian_) June 15, 2016
An update on this thread shared this uncredited picture, writing, "Shapes have been found on the wall in the phone room if you put the axe's shadow over it. This could be a map or the symbols could represent something else."
There’s a ghost woman who appears suddenly and briefly throughout the demo also appears in the trailer for the demo. Someone went through frame by frame:
What does she mean? User _blackmilk writes, "Unless someone is able to find out a concrete pattern for ghost appearances, it's safe to say that her appearance might not mean anything." Oh well!
There are different endings, but everyone wants to know if you can get out of the house? Well, you can ... if you glitch your way out, and the lack of polish in the unfinished environments seems to indicate that you can’t leave the house.
What about that house, by the way? Reddit user soapgoat pored over images of the game to try to piece together the architecture of the house. Here’s a map of the floors created by another user, and overlaid by soapgoat:
He writes, "to my surprise i think i hit on to something, most of the reachable second floor and the entire third floor exist in impossible space. There is also much much more to the second floor then we might have expected."
The community continues to experiment with the demo, working in parallel, turning over virtual rocks and hunting for solutions to puzzles, both real and imagined. Perhaps this will play out like P.T. where the community slowly makes progress, rung by rung; or, perhaps, it will be like the time Destiny players spent three weeks looking for a gun that simply wasn't released yet. But it's hard to tell if the secrets they're looking for are there in the first place or ghosts, of a kind, of P.T. and its outsized influence.