Many series fans will be glad to hear that Resident Evil 7 is a return to form. The series that introduced many to the genre of survival horror is back with what might be the best Resident Evil yet.
The past couple of Resident Evil games became more action oriented and started to leave the survival horror aspect behind. Although Resident Evil 5 is praised by many, Resident Evil 6 left fans confused in what direction the series was going. Capcom responded with a numbered series first by making the switch completely to a first person perspective, and oh boy does it deliver. Resident Evil 7 feels familiar, yet fresh. Familiar in a sense that survival horror is back. The locations, weapons, puzzles, save rooms, and small throwbacks to previous story threads will remind you of the old games. However, the brand new characters and engaging story along with the first person perspective bring a whole new outlook to the series.
The story follows Ethan Winters whose wife, Mia, has gone missing for 3 years. He receives a mysterious message from her telling him to come get her at this secluded estate in Louisiana. Ethan then sets off to find her, and so the horror begins. The estate belongs to the Baker family, a deranged and more importantly, infected group of people. Capcom does a great job introducing each family member as they stalk you through their mansion while you try to escape and uncover what’s happened to Mia.
The game truly does bring survival horror back to the series. There is a sense of familiarity for returning players that make it feel like you are playing a Resident Evil game. Whether it be from the great level design such as the mansion, or the simple and fun puzzles you’ll have to solve to advance to other areas. You’ll be sneaking around the mansion scavenging for every last herb and pack of gunpowder to craft first aid kits and ammunition. The creepy environments and nightmarish enemies are exactly what you expect from a horror game, which is a good thing. The sound design is fantastic as well. It really helps the immersion you when you hear the wood creaking, the oozing of slime, and the bangs of doors shutting. The voice acting isn’t bad either, although the lines themselves could use some work.
You’ll equip yourself with an assortment of weaponry such as knives, pistols, shotguns, a flamethrower, and more. You’ll need all the help you can get to defend yourself from an assortment of creatures plus the Baker family themselves. This isn’t a straight action game though, so be careful with your ammunition as it’s in limited supply. Sometimes it’s best to run than to fight.
Throughout the game you’ll find some old coins that can be used to unlock upgrades such as increased maximum health and quicker reload times. These upgrade unlocks are paced pretty well and provide a small sense of relief from the constant stress of knowing you have to push forward into unknown territory. The upgrades give you just enough boost to help you prepare for what’s coming next.
The story is pretty standard as far as Resident Evil goes. It was interesting enough to keep me moving forward, wanting to learn more. You’ll uncover all the details about what happened to the Baker family and Mia through in-game dialogue, cutscenes, and by picking up intel files. You also might find some nods to previous events in the Resident Evil series.
Each member of the Baker family brings their own sense of insanity to the table. The boss encounters are fun and frantic for the most part, requiring you to figure out the weak spot and how to avoid attacks correctly. It’s extremely satisfying to be able to whip out the shotgun and flamethrower and go to town on the bosses, knowing you saved up all that ammunition for this specific moment.
Not everything is perfect though.
There is a section of the game that I think drags on for a bit too long. I was ready for the game to end but then it kind of just keeps going. I mean, the overall time to complete the game is perfect at ~11 hours, but they could have done a better job on this one particular portion of the game. You’ll know it when you see it. Also, there is very little enemy variety. Besides the bosses, there are maybe 4-5 different enemy types. And they aren’t that much different from one another. I would have liked to see some classic enemy types return.
Fans of the series may have grown accustomed to alternative game modes unlocking after you complete the game. Previous titles had Mercenaries mode and other playable characters with alternate storylines. Unfortunately, nothing like that appears in this game. You can unlock another difficulty, Madhouse, that changes up enemy spawns, provides unique upgrades, limits saving, and generally makes the game way tougher. It does provide another reason to go back to the game, but I would have liked some other fun modes after being stressed out playing the main game.
Props to the QA team because I encountered little to no bugs. The only bug I encountered was a physics bug on a swinging chair, which was nothing. No crashes or slowdown either.
Resident Evil 7 is a fantastic game that delivers on bringing back survival horror. The switch to first person is one of the best decisions Capcom could have made for the series. It immerses you into the horrific environments and makes everything that much more scary. I can only imagine how the game plays in VR. Although do note that the graphics take a bit of a dive when playing in virtual reality.
There is a season pass available for $29.99 that will include some extra story related material as well as a wave-based survival mode and goofy birthday feeding mini-game (?). The DLC is releasing as soon as January 31st on PS4 and February 21st for Xbox One and PC.
I definitely recommend picking this up whenever you can.