Spaceplan begins with a few well-worn sci-fi mysteries. You wake up on a spaceship orbiting an unknown planet, the electronics are down, you don’t know who you are, and you don’t know when it is. It’s a mashup of several types of sci-fi openings.
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Mysteries are always a little interactive, encouraging the audience to play along with the plot, to consider the clues like the characters do and try to beat them to the conclusion. Mysteries exist to be solved, which means a mystery, at least any normal mystery, balances the power in favor of the detective.
This holds true even for the most confusing, confounding, and convoluted mysteries (though the best stories cover up this inherent advantage), because the mystery, by its very nature, is subservient to the power of logic and deduction. It’s something we can solve because the process of critical thinking is so powerful it can expose even the most elaborate of cover-ups.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard contains a strong grindhouse aesthetic, but I’d hesitate to call it a grindhouse game because it’s actually more stylistically complicated than that. It absolutely does evoke grindhouse in its violence, but its exploration, atmosphere, and puzzles are inspired by a very tonally different kind of horror: found footage. It seems like an obvious comparison, given the fact that one sequence has you literally playing as the cameraman for a TV show, but the inspirations go deeper than this kind of obvious imitation.
If you’ve read anything about Resident Evil 7 since it came out, you’ve likely seen one word repeated over and over again in every piece of criticism: Grindhouse. It’s a term that describes a certain type of horror movie. These critics go on to describe the game’s horror as brutal, dirty, and personal, but what exactly does Resident Evil 7 do to evoke such a specific aesthetic of violence?
The titular Verde Station of the game Verde Station is a small isolated space station that is to be your lonely home for two years. You walk around the floating structure, reading messages on terminals and watching the environment change over time. At a few points you’ll find some journal entries lying around that hint at a space opera far bigger than this tiny station you’re stuck on. The mystery begins: How does your lonely little station fit into that sci-fi epic?
Spoilers abound ahead.