Resident Evil 7 is a return to the roots of the games I’d loved playing, growing up. Capcom seems to have a lot of feedback from the highly controversial Resident Evil 6, and gone back to the drawing board for the future of the franchise.
Resident Evil 7 is playable in VR on the PlayStation 4, but this review will not deal with VR gameplay since I do not have access to it. Getting down to the basics, what makes Resident Evil 7 work is the look, feel, design and the mood of the game. You’re constantly on edge, and on higher difficulties you don’t even fell safe in the safe rooms where you can save your game, even though they are completely safe and a place to break from the constant and near oppressive design of the levels in the game. If I really have to compare, then I would compare it to Alien: Isolation’s Sevastapol. The rooms aren’t as large as the Space Station and the tension isn’t nearly as palpable as it is in Isolation, since enemies can and will be killed. The mood of the game, it’s narrow halls and dark passageways, with constant tension of what lies beyond the next door is what makes Resident Evil 7 truly shine.
This is not a relentless game, you can take some time off in rooms where you are completely safe, a Resident Evil tradition, I might add, but when you’re out and explore the Baker house, it’s difficult not to look over your own shoulder. This was a game clearly designed with VR in mind, under different circumstances, jump scares are an absolute no-no as I believe they are cheap tricks used to scare people, but in the case of Resident Evil 7, it works because the scares happen without the loud noisy reveal music that plays immediately after a traditional jump scare happens. This gives the in your face reveals a very realistic feel about it, and I speculate, adds to the VR experience.
In retrospect, the game has a simple premise and hinges on the game design and bosses to do most of the heavy lifting for it. The enemies themselves are quite simplistic, and some veteran players might recognize a distinct similarity in the regular average joe creepy crawlies and some of the previous games monsters, it’s the family that is central to the game’s plot that really make it great. The gameplay revolves around carrying weapons suited to the situation at hand, inventory management and making sure you have the right items and enough space in your backpack or be prepared to do a lot of hiking or hunting for a backpack extension. Key items occupy space in the inventory, and you’re often forced to manage your inventory or risk not picking up important items.
The game also has a crafting mechanic to it that uses precious resources that can be hard to find, you could either craft yourself some bullets or make a first aid potion for quick use, either way, one item will be left in your inventory taking extra space, making it worth hiking back to the save point every now and then to store valuables. Ethan, the protagonist, is described as an everyday man, but is able to wield powerful firearms like he was born to do it, while we can chalk that up to video game logic, it is amazing how much punishment this man can take.
Every boss in the game is based on the Baker family, whom you must outsmart and evade until confrontation is necessary, it adds as a glue to hold the game together with proper cohesion and flow in the story, something which is consistent throughout the game. From boss battles, reminiscent of the old Resident Evil and Silent Hill games, to bosses that go full Resident Evil later on, this game has the complete package without compromising on the horror element that games since Resident Evil 4 have done. The game can get quite challenging on higher difficulties as the lack of resources and ammo become a real threat to the player, and their added fragility does nothing to push things in their favour.
Resident Evil 7 is the game Survival Horror fans have been waiting for, it’s their fix that’ll last a couple of years until another game comes along that manages to impress in this genre, and it is a clear message to Capcom that the days of Resident Evil 6 are done, and we hope we never see something like that again. At 7 hours, the price tag might seem a bit too steep, but the experience along is worth paying full price for this game. I would call Resident Evil 7 a must buy.
Fantastic Game Design
Simple story that serves as a backbone to the game rather than the main event
Resurgence of Survival Horror
Lacks the puzzle aspect of previous RE games
Might be a little short