Resident Evil 7 was originally touted as going back to its survival horror roots however it also surprised a lot of fans with its focus on ‘first person’ exploration. This move was explained by the compatibility with PlayStation VR. Nevertheless, it still disappointed the fans of the series who preferred the third person shooter aspect of the previous games.
I was initially skeptical for this new direction taken by the series with ‘first person’ exploration and lack of combat. However, after having played the game, I can safely say that this is a Resident Evil game at its core. The first person view hasn’t really changed the essence of the game, which is still designed in a way that coincides with the old Resident Evil games, particularly the original Resident Evil trilogy appears to be a big source of inspiration for this latest entry in the series.
I was also worried about the apparent lack of combat, which was something that the marketing failed to convey in a proper sense. However the final game does offer the player a lot of combat options and it is similar in sense to Resident Evil 1, with a focus on limited inventory, resources and weapons. It is a satisfying way of playing the game even if it feels like the developers have played it safe for the most part and designed a game that still relies heavily on the nostalgic feeling of playing the earlier games, but with the addition of new mechanics that no longer feel outdated.
Resident Evil 7 has a very slow paced opening that might turn off some of the fans, but it is highly recommended to keep playing the game since the story picks up as the game progresses and it slowly begins to morph into something that resembles the essence of the series For starters, the slow opening nicely sets up the main villains and cast of characters while also successfully creates a back story for the main character, Ethan. We find out that Ethan is looking for his girlfriend Mia, who appears to have gone missing recently on a trip. Majority of details regarding the story are still shrouded in mystery giving the player a fear of the unknown when they began exploring the last known location of Mia. However unlike any of the recent Resident Evil games, there is no returning character from the series this time around which might disappoint some of the fans of the series.
The main villains for the game are the Baker family, which can’t be killed for the most part in the game making for intense encounters as the player run for their life. However, there is no reason to fret here as the game does still allow the player to harm them resulting in some exciting boss battles that more than make up for all the scares that the game puts the player through in the first half. It might lack more of the traditional boss encounters but there is more than enough opportunity to utilize our weapon arsenal.
Resident Evil 1 was famous for the iconic Spencer mansion and this appears to be a big inspiration for Resident Evil 7 with its Bakers’ family house, where the majority of the game will take place. It is an extremely well designed house where there will be a lot of backtracking done by the player. However the backtracking and exploration is highly rewarding as it lets us either get more resources or discover some weapons that will help with majority of the enemy encounters. Collecting and hoarding resources has a good payoff near the end when the game goes crazy with enemy encounters.
Speaking of enemies, this is one instance where the game fails to deliver. It is unfortunately lacking the enemy variety which is a well known feature of the past Resident Evil games. This means with the limited amount of enemy variety, we can easily learn the moves and weakness of each of them and this makes each of the subsequent encounter with them less terrifying and often feeling repetitive. It would have been great if they developers kept the enemy variety diverse enough that the player always had to stay on the edge.
While the beginning of the game up to the middle is full of intense sections and scary moments, the direction for the game changes in the middle to a linear focused progression, which might disappoint others. There are sections where the player has limited choice and while they are still designed well, they do feel nostalgic as well since they appear to be inspired from the classic Resident Evil games. As an example, we encounter bomb traps and even bombs hidden in some of the fragile crates with items later in the game, which appears to be similar to the traps in Resident Evil 4.
The game also switches to a completely different perspective in the last third act which often feels like a letdown compared to the beginning section. However, while the ending of the game has its downside, there is still a lot of exciting stuff crammed in between and despite the reluctance to show weapons arsenal for the player in the pre-release marketing, the game does provide a good stock of weapons and ammo.
I played Resident Evil 7 on the Normal difficulty settings and was able to finish it with a playtime of 10:30, which is a pretty average length for the series. However there is a lot of opportunity to replay it with the ‘Madhouse’ difficulty that gets unlocked if we finish the game on Normal. This difficulty apparently changes some of the puzzles and increases the difficulty, making it a good choice for those who have mastered the game.
Resident Evil 7 is a welcome addition to the series and it is also one of the scariest game I have played this generation. While the first person view helps with immersion and works well for the way the developers have designed the environment, creating a tense atmosphere during exploration.
Resident Evil 7 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in January 2017, with the PlayStation 4 version having support for the PlayStation VR headset.
Resident Evil 7 is one of the scariest games released this generation and a return to the form for the series.