Once again, we enter the world of survival horror, and it’s glorious. As Capcom is back in shape again with their latest addition to the Resident Evil franchise. Yes, I´m of course talking about Resident Evil 7 Biohazard. You see, Capcom have gone back to their routes to what made Resident Evil so special, the setting, the horror and the adventure. It’s what I’ve wanted as a long-time fan for a while now but has it been worth the wait?
Firstly, I’d like to disclose that I’m some kind of inhuman super mutant that doesn’t get motion sick. So I played the entire game using PlayStation VR and will be reviewing it as a VR game for that reason. Furthermore, this review will be spoiler free!
As things stand 2017 is off to a terrific start with game releases, and Resident Evil 7 is leading the charge. Capcom have made a long-awaited return to Survival Horror, dropping the Co-Op action-Jackson tropes from Resident Evil 5 and 6, and it’s all the better for it. It all starts with new perspective, rather than from a fixed angle or over the shoulder view; everything you witness is from a first-person perspective.
The threat this time doesn’t come from T-Virus Zombies and Rabid Dogs, this time you face-off with a psychopathic family called “The Bakers” and creatures known as the “Moulded“. The gameplay is similar to Outlast, and Alien Isolation (where sometimes you need to sneak around rather than go in all guns blazing). However, there are tropes from films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Thing and SAW, oh the Horror!
You play as Ethan, a man looking for his wife (Mei) who has been missing for three years, and after receiving a message from her. Ethan finds himself at an abandoned southern farmhouse/mansion (It’s quite big) where things take a turn for the worse as you uncover twists and turns as you uncover the mystery behind the Bakers. Capcom have completely revised their approach to what makes a good Resident Evil game by taking what made the original trilogy excellent and modernizing it. So there is no roundhouse kicks or rock punching. Nope, because RE7 consists of classic survival horror that many of us loved from the original trilogy, but has it adapted well to a first-person perspective?
What made the classic RE games special were of course the Environments you found yourself in whether it was collapsing ceilings, crows guarding paintings or the weird ass keys you needed to find to progress throughout the mansion. Well, many of the classic tropes return in RE7. So the game feels more like a sequel to 4 than 5 or 6. The surroundings are a really important part of a survival horror game they have as much character as the people in the game
Witnessing these areas in first person certainly makes for a positive impact, especially when playing in VR, you really can get close and look at things, whether it’s books on a shelf or a mutilated corpse. Many of the rooms I visited made me feel both inquisitive and uncomfortable; some rooms just made me want to get out as soon as possible, but at the same time I needed to make sure I checked every inch for handgun bullets and herbs. The classic save rooms complete with an item chest return which give you that moment to pause and relax.
There was a concern that RE7 might not feel like a Resident Evil game, but don’t worry! Because it does; right down to the atmospheric music, the spooky files and the cunning puzzles you must figure out along the way. While the enemies aren’t lumbering zombies, it still plays into the world Capcom have spent years creating. The Bakers are incredibly menacing, and most encounters act as either mini boss battles or moments where you need to evade them as they search for you, the pacing is just right that it doesn’t become tiresome or repetitive, there’s a nice balance to encounters, which require different tactics to survive.
The Moulded act as the games cannon fodder, they aren’t exactly the most terrifying Resident Evil enemy I’ve met despite the fact they’re entirely made from meat (yes real meat). However, they’re certainly not a patch on the Licker or Hunter. They seem to resemble the Regenerator (without the regeneration bit) while they do have variants later-on, they aren’t much of an issue until your unarmed.
Which brings me to my next point; whenever I had a gun, the fear level dropped somewhat, that was twofold when I had a shotgun that dropped moulded with ease. However, the moments where you’re unarmed are without a doubt the most terrifying, this happens on occasion throughout the game which keeps things interesting. I never felt like I was unstoppable, it felt like I was up against it. Ammo scarcity also makes things interesting. As you need to make every bullet count, so sometimes running might be a better tactic than fighting. Furthermore, It doesn’t matter what you’re up against. Because the times that I was unarmed (or low on bullets) it didn’t matter what was after me. As I would panic run and hide closing every door behind me, and this was heightened by playing in VR.
As a VR game Resident Evil 7 is an absolute blast, it’s not perfect, but it certainly makes a strong argument that PlayStation VR was a worthwhile investment. Sony has also secured a year exclusive deal with Capcom so those with HTC Vive and Oculus will have to wait a year before experiencing it for themselves. VR really does elevate the horror and after spending eight hours in it; I completely lost myself in this game as I crept through the various environments, peering around corners and using my head to aim my weapon made for a compelling and enjoyable experience.
Compared to playing on the TV the scares are far more exciting and terrifying. Early on in the game during a knife attack, it felt like the blade was inches away from my face. So the enemy encounters are incredibly immersive and you’re right there among the blood guts and gore! Sadly enough though, there is one thing does spoil the experiences…And that would be the floating arms which you will see from time to time, and the arms can do some really odd things such as spinning around which can break immersion. The visuals also take a slight hit, but it’s nothing too dramatic. In fact, this is without a doubt one of the best-looking games on PlayStation VR. This is without a doubt the best way to experience Resident Evil 7, because you really do feel like you’re a part of the action. Simply put, you’re in your own little horror movie, and you’re the star.
Sound is brilliant with chilling music and excellent voice acting. Visuals are also at a good standard with great details. However, there are a few dodgy textures with and without VR, but it’s nothing deal breaking. The game took me eight hours to beat but can be speed run in four hours. However, I didn’t feel like I was robbed of £40, it was just about the right length, there were still many files and collectables I missed first-time round, enough to warrant a second play through. It’s also a great game to show off your VR device to friends and watch them squirm in the opening hour. Furthermore, there are plenty of hidden secrets to discover along with unlocks for another playthrough.
It’s kind of odd saying that this game is a major improvement on the previous games because it’s homage to a trilogy that released in the 90s, it just goes to show that mechanics from games over a decade old can still cut it today, whether that’s the power of nostalgia or decent game mechanics is up for debate. Even so, Resident Evil 7 is still everything that I wanted from a Resident Evil game, and it’s left me wanting more. Nevertheless, as an experience, it’s one I’ll be talking about for quite some time. So I’m glad Capcom took this gamble because the series was becoming stagnant, the horror genre is alive and well and it’s good to see AAA developers jumping on board with this, I can only hope we will see more games like this in the future (Starts praying for Dead Space reboot). With the extra DLC coming soon via Season Pass and free content, there’re plenty of reasons to keep me coming back for more.
+ Bloody Scary
+ Classic Resi Tropes still hold up
+ Must play in VR
– Iffy textures
– Molded are slightly disappointing
– Floating Arms
Replay value: 4/5
Capcom´s Resident Evil 7 is a glorious return to survival horror! Simply put, RE7 includes the best parts of Resident Evil rolled up into a nice package. So RE7 is a must play for the fans with no doubt.
Title: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Genre: Survival Horror
Release date: 23/01/17
Difficulty: Easy, Medium, Madhouse
Spent time: 9 hours
Average grade internationally: 86.38% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: 18
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