Since first playing Resident Evil on the original PlayStation console there have been many sequels and variations of the franchise, some great and others incredibly awful. An example of the latter being the last main series chapter in the franchise, Resident Evil 6. Resident Evil 6 was quite terrible in fact, completely abandoning survival-horror in favor of being a third-person action game. Fortunately for fans EVERYWHERE Capcom learnt from their mistake deciding to return Resident Evil to its horror roots with Resident Evil 7.
Ethan Winters is drawn to a derelict plantation in Dulvey, Louisiana by a message sent from his wife Mia, who has been missing for 3 years. Exploring an abandoned house at the location, Ethan finds Mia imprisoned in the basement. In an attempt to save Mia, Ethan is subdued by Jack Baker, patriarch of the Baker family. Ethan is held captive by Jack, his wife Marguerite, their son Lucas and an elderly wheelchair-bound woman. Ethan spends the duration of the game trying to escape the twisted Baker family and save his wife in the process.
I’m not walking in alone..
Seeing as I’m a complete pansy when it comes to jump scares, gore and just horror games in general, I reached out to my friend Brett (better known as UFDisciple) to join me for an overnight gaming session where we tried to complete the game in one single play through. Thankfully Brett also has a PS4 Pro so we used his to find out if there were any Pro enhancements of the game. If you’ve got a few hours to burn here’s a replay of the whole stream below.
Instead of taking the previous Third-Person action approach of Resident Evil games, Capcom decided to create Resident Evil 7 from the ground up centered around a First-Person perspective. The game plays out like a psychological horror with enemies generally kept to a minimum, and surroundings, sound and dark tones making up most of the “fear-factor”. PlayStation VR support is added and sometimes seems mainly scripted to this audience due to close up movements of the antagonists. Ethan can equip a ranged or melee weapon when found which he can use to take down his enemies, at times the environment can also be used to stun or hurt antagonists. Items and weapon ammunition is found in partial pieces, needing to be fully crafted in the easy to use inventory.
Although most of the campaign is played out on a single plantation with very few rooms in total, moderate puzzles are presented which need to be solved to progress further. At times there are tapes that can be inserted into TV’s that allow you to replay the events of previous prisoners as well as Mia, these replays are not just viewed on the TV but actually reenacted by the protagonist. At the end of every notable progression point in the game you are presented with a “boss battle” in which you need to defeat one of the Baker family members, each having their own form of combat and resilience to different weaponry. Regrettably Resident Evil 7 seriously drags on from about the half-way mark for just quite a lot longer than I would have hoped. It’s great to get your money’s worth in a game in terms of duration, but with this genre I feel it’s a tad unnecessary to try to develop the story further than absolutely needed.
Resident Evil 7 has the highest graphic fidelity of any Resident Evil in the past. Character movement and animation is impressive, featuring full facial expressions for emotions such as anger and remorse, this is reinforced with synchronized mouth movement for speech. Hair physics are present on the main characters, first shown on Mia in the opening scene of the game. Every aspect of the environments are modeled with great detail, with floors, walls and roofs covered in dust, dirt and grime adding a large essence of realism.
Resident Evil 7’s native support of the PlayStation VR resulted in texture quality that is comparatively lower than other recent AAA titles. Although the texture quality is relatively low, it’s not a distracting feature due to the very dark tones of the game’s indoor and outdoor setting. Lighting is usually kept to a minimum and only generally used by the protagonist and key areas in paths.
Music as well as ambient noise can make or break a game in the horror genre, and Capcom did this right terrifyingly well. Instead of employing cheap thrills and jump scares, the game inserts scare tactics through simple repetition. Corridors and rooms are meant to be explored multiple times with intense rising and falling of volume levels, leading to the constant dreaded expectation of a scare. What makes this amazing is that most often than not, when expecting it to happen absolutely nothing happens. This deepens the fear and worry when moving around every corner. When you least expect it after entering a room for the second or third time you hear a roar or whisper which has you cowering in the corner of your room. Well played Capcom.
Capcom has redefined the Resident Evil franchise and taken it to new heights. In an age of sequels, remasters, reboots and terrible games (Seen Life of Black Tiger?) Resident Evil: 7 Biohazard has refreshed an old series in the best possible way; If you’re into soiling your pants that is.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was developed by Capcom. It released for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One worldwide on 24th January 2017. A review copy was provided by the publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro (CUH-7000).