Last month, Tim braved the console waters to bring you word of Resident Evil 7’s , the first DLC pack which PS4 owners got to sample a month early. Today, both Banned Footage Volumes 1 and 2 are available on the PC, included as part of the Season Pass for $30 with a future bonus episode to come, or individually at $10 and $15 respectively. Our man liked the first pack overall, lauding its variety and the Bedroom episode’s focus on escape room puzzle-solving, in particular.
But Vol. 2 isn’t an easy recommendation for me. It retains the strange charm of Resi 7’s new bayou setting and gives us more quality time with the Bakers, but doesn’t feel as creative, revelatory, or substantial as I’d hoped. Here’s a rundown on what comes in Banned Footage Vol. 2 and whether or not it’s worth your time.
This episode is literally just Resident Evil 7’s deranged interpretation of blackjack. Starting with a single card flipped over, players take turns bluffing their way to a hand that adds up to as close to 21 as possible without going over. You’re seated at a table with another unfortunate prisoner, while Lucas Baker lays down the stakes from a remote location and spits out cards from a machine. In the first round, your hands are clamped out in a machine that cuts a finger or three off with each loss, after which a new torture device is rolled in to up the ante.
A few rounds in Lucas throws introduces trump cards, special cards that change certain conditions and don’t consume a turn. One adds two to your opponent’s total, another returns your last upward facing card to the deck, and others pull specific cards to your hand. With each consecutive round, more trump cards are introduced and your bag-headed opponent gets more cunning to compensate. It’s a nice way to spice things up when playing against the AI, but trump cards won’t change the way you think about blackjack forever, let alone the half hour it takes to get through the scene.
21 might be the only game of blackjack that reduces your face to hamburger with enough bad luck—it’s novel and worth a few laughs for the overwrought presentation and Lucas’ deranged dialogue, but it’s still blackjack. I would have preferred another escape room puzzle from Lucas rather than one of the world’s best known card games with a spooky makeover. Still, if you’re into Resi 7 for the cheeky tropes and character rather than actual scares, maybe this is your deal.
The more Resident Evil 7 focuses on the Bakers, the better it is, but Daughters feels too familiar to contribute much. It's a short episode played from Zoe Baker’s perspective, following the family’s last moments as somewhat normal people before becoming mind-controlled goop monsters. (Spoilers. Kinda.)
Zoe is slower than Ethan, has nearly nothing to defend herself with, and without a flashlight she can only see a few dimly-lit feet ahead of her thanks to a small lighter. Daughters felt darker and scarier from the start, despite knowing the Baker house like the back of my hand.
But the episode is over before it really begins, burying its meager rewards in rummaging through the Baker house yet again in search of a secret ending—my first play through took about 20 minutes. Here’s the real secret: it’s dull. Either way, it’s nice to get chased by Jack again even if being pursued by a madman wearing just pants is starting to feel like routine. .(opens in new tab)
I’d be fine with the short runtime, but Daughters rushes the Baker family’s transformation. There’s no subtlety or slow decent into madness. Zoe leaves her nice family for a minute and comes back to the loonies we know from Resi 7. There’s nothing to learn about how they normally relate to one another or how a (spoiler, definitely) creepy young girl slowly took over their minds. Eveline comes in from the rain, you fetch her some warm clothes, and boom, Marguerite is puking up bugs like it’s her job. The rushed transformation deflates Eveline of any power the spooky kid archetype gives her, and she was already the weakest character in the main game.
Daughters feels like a deleted scene that needed deleting—it simplifies the Baker origin story to a boring bullet point, and even then, doesn’t reveal anything about the plot we couldn’t already put together on our own.
Jack’s 55th Birthday
The final part of the package is a totally throwaway mode, but Jack’s 55th Birthday has just enough depth and charm to make it worth playing. The clue to the ridiculous setup is there in the name. It’s Jack’s special day and he needs feeding. You start off in a room with the birthday boy where you can get ready for the food hunt via a storage box full of weapons and healing items. Head out the door and the timer starts, counting down from 15 minutes. Your goal is to fill Jack’s satisfaction meter by finding edible items in the house. The catch is that they also take up inventory space and molded enemies (wearing silly hats) continually spawn while you’re outside the kitchen.
If you’re a combat expert, taking fewer weapons and healing items opens up more room for munchies, but increases your chance of dying. Simultaneously, every time you shoot an enemy bonus time builds up. It’s a way to force not just combat, but super careful, precise combat. You’ll want to take out the molded, preserve every bit of ammo possible, and have as much inventory space for food items you can. Some items can only be combined with others to make a more filling dish, and others exist purely to throw you off track (don’t feed Jack any garbage). Careful inventory management, as cumbersome as it can be, becomes as important as nailing headshots, especially if you want that elusive S-rank. New arenas pulled from environments in the main game unlock as you play, and each offers a bit more complexity and challenge than the last.
As charming as Jack’s 55th Birthday is, I have a hard time seeing much depth or reward beyond optimizing runs after unlocking all the bonus items. Even if the amusement of Jack’s dumb birthday hat wears off before long, as a hokey time trial arcade mode that gives me Mario Party flashbacks, it’s easily the star of Banned Footage Vol. 2.
Even so, Vol. 2 is a much harder sell than Vol. 1. None of the tapes are particularly deep beyond their initial burst of novelty, whereas Vol. 1 contained Nightmare and Ethan Must Die, two challenging modes with hours of potential, and Bedroom, a tense surprising escape room scenario that makes sense within the Resi 7 universe. And it only costs $10 to Vol. 2’s $15. That said, the Season Pass mentions a bonus episode that we still don't know anything about. If it proves worthwhile and seals the deal on a $30 purchase, then through sheer variety it’d be an easy recommendation. For now, sit tight with Banned Footage Vol. 1 and if you haven’t yet, maybe .