Resident Evil 7 is designed to be a singular experience, always has been. Just you and the game and the horrors that await. But it’s a lot more fun when tackled with friends, especially if you’re too chicken to play alone (guilty).
The suffocating darkness, the terrifying monsters, the hidden secrets are made more bearable in the company of others. Even more than that, there’s something about enduring a frightening situation with friends. Why do you think we tell ghost stories around the campfire? We love scaring ourselves and each other.
In a TED video from 2016, Margee Kerr explains the science behind why people love being scared. According to Kerr, our bodies release chemicals when they’re primed for danger, also known as our “fight or flight” response. These chemicals provide us with energy while shutting down non-essential systems like critical thought.
Resident Evil 7’s pacing, story, and terrifying world perfectly lends itself to this phenomenon. Because we’re not in any real danger, we’re free to enjoy the “high” of being frightened. It’s the reason theme parks are such big business.
“Fear can bring people together,” Kerr says. “Emotions can be contagious, and when you see your friend scream and laugh, you feel compelled to do the same. This is because we make sense of what our friends are experiencing by recreating the experience ourselves. This not only intensifies our own emotional experience, but makes us feel closer to those we’re with.”
I had a blast exploring the game’s first hour on my own. But the experience was intensified the moment others joined in. Exploring the game’s dark hallways, evading Jack Baker, and unraveling its mysteries offers a unique and unexpected communal experience. Obviously, you can’t get that when you’re playing alone.
If you don’t have anyone to play with, I encourage you to check out a Let’s Play. I’ve gotten through a majority of the game but I still find it strangely satisfying watching others get nabbed by the game’s antagonists. As Kerr said, seeing people react can prompt a similar physical and emotional response in us.
As we say in our review, Resident Evil 7 does a terrific job of building suspense. “Jump scares, though, are just the start,” Eric Frederiksen writes. “They form a foundation that kept me on edge for a huge portion of the game, dreading the next one even as I forged ahead.”
The game is also just a ton of fun to watch. Like I said, it’s great to play, but I enjoyed sitting back and watching the game unfold like a movie. The moment you think you know what’s going on, a new twist is introduced. And not having a controller in your hands means you can cover your eyes at the really scary moments.
Resident Evil 7 is certainly an unusual “party game,” but give it a shot at your next get-together. You’ll be surprised at how much fun it is to play with friends—and it’s fun as hell to see others cower in fear as Jack Baker stalks through the game’s fantastic mansion.