Game: Resident Evil 7
Playtime: 10 hours
Completed: January 30, 2017
System(s): PC, Xbox One, PS4 – This review based off of PC version
Release Date: January 24, 2017
DLC: No; first DLC (Banned footage vol. 1) will be released Feb 21 on PC and Xbox One. Currently available on PS4 as of Jan 31
For whatever reason Resident Evil’s franchise decided to veer off the survival horror path around Resident Evil 4, leaving many fans begging Capcom to return the game to its roots. Resident Evil 6 was admittedly awful and left much to be desired. It hit sever snags as it attempted to combine different classical survival horror elements and shooter mechanics into one. This meant that any game that was unfortunate enough to follow it had some high expectations to live up to from its passionate fan base. Thankfully, there’s enough blood, guts, and gore to delight us. Classic Resident Evil puzzles are sprinkled throughout and there’s enough connections to the previous RE titles to stir up new questions while also putting some old ones to rest.
Players take on the role of Ethan Winters, an average man who’s the lead on an investigation to figure out exactly what happened to his wife Mia after she went missing for three years. Though long since presumed dead, Ethan receives a short message from Mia inviting him to come pick her up from a plot of land deep within the Louisiana bayou. While on Mia’s trail he finds himself face to face with the insane and repugnant Baker family. The Bakers babble about making you a member of their family wanting to bestow “the gift” upon you. The family is not to be taken lightly as they relentlessly pursue you during your stay at their humble abode. You can scramble to make an escape but they have no issues letting you scurry around underneath their house as they’re secure in the knowledge that there’s nowhere for you to hide. It’s an evil game of cat and mouse as you uncover the family’s secrets.
You’ll explore the house and subsequent area in first-person view rather than the third-person over-the-shoulder presentation of prior Resident Evil games. This was a welcomed approach by me as I felt the over-the-shoulder approach often lead to poor camera angles. The game’s atmosphere is where it truly shines, bringing an uneasy feeling and tension throughout the game’s entirety. Resident Evil 7 offered some of the best atmospheric horror outside of Outlast. You’ll be kept on a constant lookout for someone to literally reach out and grab you, or even steal a limb or two from you (which can happen). Resident Evil 7 is easily one of the most intense playing experiences I’ve been through and even as a big horror nerd I found myself unable to shake the constant feeling of dread (especially during some of the more claustrophobic areas of the house). Item management is back. You’ll need to be careful about what you decide to carry with you. The last thing you want is to be unable to pick up an important story item and have to double back to clear up inventory space. You can offload extra items in save rooms where you’ll find cassette players and can use the trunks found there to swap out the things you don’t need to carry with you. You’ll be able to expand what limited storage you have with backpacks found later on in the game. There isn’t an overwhelming amount of ammo throughout the game but there’s enough to get you by. There’s a crafting feature in game that allows you to make basic ammo, enhanced ammo, and first aid sprays to help aide you in your journey. Be mindful of what components these require though, as there are times when an extra first aid spray can be more helpful than that extra bit of ammo.
The boss battles felt lacking compared to what has been offered by previous RE games. While players battle against the Bakers throughout the game, the boss encounters mostly revolve around pumping enemies with enough bullets until they drop dead. They lacked the intensity that you’d find during the cat-and-mouse game of escaping the Bakers prior. It’s because of this that there feels like a disconnect from the rest of the game. Boss battles lacked in challenge or ingenuity. When I did die during the battles in Resident Evil 7 (during the chainsaw battle) it was largely due to having low health going into the fight and deciding which item would be more beneficial to me in the long run. There’s enough variety in the boss fights to wet the appetite. While the boss fights were a mixed bag they didn’t prove to be a detriment overall.
This was one of the best ways to breathe new life into a franchise that’s been mistreated with the prior two installments despite falling short in the boss encounters. If you’re itching for a truer more classic take then you’ll feel right at home playing Resident Evil 7. Resident Evil 7 offers one of the most unnerving gaming experiences you’ll encounter and if you play it in VR I can only imagine that’s multiplied tenfold. Don’t let the prior entry sour you – Resident Evil is back in a big way, and this isn’t one you’ll want to miss out on. Resident Evil 7 has welcomed players back to the series’ horror roots and to a grim, disgusting feast that you just can’t turn away from.