As one of the original survival horror juggernauts, Resident Evil has made quite a name for itself, consistently selling millions on each of its numbered releases. Since 2005, the series has become less about horror and more about action. Resident Evil 7 manages to revitalize the series with its departure from third to first person perspective, new characters, and new locations while maintaining the classic Resident Evil atmosphere. However, it’s not flawless.
On my descent to madness, I couldn’t help but notice the games’ use of sound to create a chilling environment. Floor boards creak to perfection, background music matches each set piece, and the incredible one-liners from your enemies never feel out of place. The sound design adds to the development of its characters.
We are tasked with playing as Ethan Winters whose mission is to find his partner Mia after a mysterious video message is sent to Ethan after assuming Mia had died.
The series is home to some of the most disturbingly beautiful creations. The new in-game engine is beautiful but misses the mark when the game exposes players to extreme light. Longtime Resident Evil fans will be glad to hear that dark eerie environments of the past make a return. The minute Ethan clicks on his flashlight, the game’s new engine truly begins to shine. Shadows, textures, and particle effects are all handled very well, creating the perfect panic-inducing atmosphere for its new first-person view. The game, while beautiful, doesn’t capitalize fully with its less-than-creative approach to an enemy type called the “Molded” but makes up for it in main villains of the game, “the Bakers.”
The Bakers are the original family that owned the Dulvey plantation you explore. In traditional Resident Evil fashion, we learn the story by interacting with the environment. Photos, old newspaper clippings, and videos tell their story. The family consists of Jack, Marguerite, Lucas, and Zoe. The different personalities of each set them apart, making them unpredictable enemies. The game begins to drop hints after a while that maybe the Bakers were victims of something or someone.
Resident Evil 7 plays on the conventions of family, twisting it into something that only Resident Evil can do. My first encounter with Jack Baker had me frantically running while looking for anything in the environment to help! Unfortunately, my efforts were in vain because, despite what you do to the Bakers, they can’t die. Since Resident Evil 4, the series put an emphasis on action; however, the Bakers’ inability to die returns players back to our powerless roots (looking at you, Nemesis).
In many ways, RE7 does everything it can to stay true to its roots. Item management, a numbered inventory, cassette tapes, and several other nostalgic themes make their way back. The return of these themes allows the series to move away from actions and focus on the things that make it great. The series is at its best when players are forced into situations that they aren’t all the way prepared for. RE7 has a lot going for it and its gameplay showcases it.
Let’s get one thing clear, running and gunning will not be enough in this title. The Bakers cannot be killed by normal means and have no problem looking for you. Ethan must fight, and the game gives you many options. Guns, melee weapons, bombs and the ability to defend are all at your disposal. Health is displayed on a codex attached to your left wrist, reflecting your current condition.The game constantly reminds you that your only way of escape is to sneak around to find your next objective. Resident Evil 7 fixes one of the series’ critical problems of backtracking by always letting you know what your next objective is. Puzzles also make a welcome return, and you’ll be delighted to know Capcom has toned down the difficulty. I found that paying attention to the game’s lore allowed me to easily solve many of the puzzles.
The first-person view adds to the experience in every way possible. The ability to see through the eyes of Ethan adds a layer of interactivity making you weigh out your next move. In the opening hours of the game, I used the knife, until I encountered the Molded. I was repulsed by them and did whatever I could to avoid them. In later stages of the game, they are used so much that their shock factor wears off. One of my biggest problems with RE7 is a lack of diversity in its enemies outside of the Bakers.
I believe that story elements make a gaming experience worthwhile. While I won’t go in depth, I will say that RE7’s story fits beautifully with the rest of the series.
Resident Evil 7 is a step in the right direction. The game returns its focus back to horror, creating intense moments that capitalize on its new in-game engine, despite some drop-off in extreme light. The first-person view and commitment to classic RE themes adds a new dimension of interactivity for survival horror fans. The game is well worth its price tag, and with DLC on the way, is one to watch.
- The Bakers
- Classic Resident Evil Atmosphere
- Lighting Issues
- Overuse of Molded