Having completed Resident Evil 7 only last week with my fellow Bearded Robots, I felt a little deflated. We had thoroughly enjoyed our adventures on the Baker Estate and seen what Capcom had dramatically changed on their survival horror franchise (bringing it back to the survival horror and away from the action that the series had become), that the fact it was over was a crying shame.
Resident Evil 7 was one of the best games of 2017, and if it was not for Horizon: Zero Dawn’s rich and deep lore of how the world came to be, it would have been THE best game of the year.
We played it as a group, only with one person controlling, and it was a lot of fun. It was still scary and jumpy, as well as maintaining the horror that the game set out to achieve, even whilst we were making jokes and taking the piss throughout our run through.
You can check out my review of Resident Evil 7 here: http://beardedrobot.co.uk/gaming-blogs/resident-evil-7-review/ and you can watch our entire playthrough starting with the first part here: http://beardedrobot.co.uk/gaming-blogs/watch-us-play-resident-evil-7-biohazard/
With the end of Resident Evil 7, a few questions in the game were left unanswered, especially with regards to one of the antagonist, but thankfully Capcom have released the FREE downloadable content: Not A Hero, that continues the story following the events of the main game.
Now this review is going to SPOILER territory for both this DLC and the ending of the main game, so read at your own peril.
Being a free DLC, I was not expecting too much. I had read that it was a lot action packed than the main game, so I figured it would be more arcade-y, and that it would take place in much of the same areas as featured previously. When the game first starts out, yes you are in the same salt mine that you ending the main game in, and yes the game is more action orientated, however the core principles of the game remain the same.
So the story follows special agent Chris Redfield (protagonist of RE1, Code Veronica, RE5, and popped up in many other Resident Evil games in some way), who is now no longer the same massive meat-head he was in previous games, as he is contracted by the Private Military Company; Umbrella (formally the massive bastards behind everything, but now they are just some mercenary faction – which was a plot question left dangling at the end of RE7) to help hunt down Lucas Baker, and rescue the three missing Umbrella agents who had previous gone after him and who are now missing.
Now Lucas was previously just the odd son of the Bakers who put Ethan (the protagonist of RE7) through a series of SAW-like maze puzzles and traps, however, it is revealed that he has some sort of links to whomever is behind the events of the main game.
Well it turns out that Lucas is actually some massive scientist working in the secret underground lab just beyond the Salt Mine that Ethan never visited. As who was behind it all was not answered in the main game, nor what happened to Lucas. So from the get-go we are already given a load of details that we needed answers for.
After jumping into the game, we are greeted with a completely different HUD to Ethan. We can see Chris’ health in one corner, and the it has a real HALO feel to it, showing us the outline of his mask’s visor. Chris comes automatically equipped with a knife, the handgun; the Samurai Edge (any fans of Resident Evil will remember that it was a secret weapon in the remake of the original game that was one of the best guns in the game), an assault shotgun (which I thought was an SMG), and some grenades. It is clear to see that Redfield is tooled up for the job. From the off we are greeted by the classic Moulded enemies from the game (whom I am assuming Eveline is not in control off since she is now in very little pieces outside the Baker’s guest house following the final battle with Ethan moments before), and Chris’ arsenal makes short work of them.
After a short meeting with Lucas and one of the missing soldiers, we have some sort of bomb attached to our wrist and given a taste of one of the new mechanics for the game; the unbreathable atmosphere. Our mask can only take so much of it, so we have a percentage health bar slowly going down. Once it reaches the bottom, we are dead. We need to get to a clear aired area in order to recharge it.
Shortly after this encounter, we come to a part of the map that was previously locked in the main game. It has only been about 5 minutes and we are thrown into a brand new area. The door locks behind us and we must traverse this unknown path.
Eventually we find ourselves in a big underground chamber that acts as the central hub of the DLC. Here is one of the only two save points in the game, as well as a box for us to store items in, although we only get a limited number of items in this DLC, so it didn’t really seem necessary to include it. It also has two bird cages, with one containing a HP upgrade and the other a reload upgrade, which antique coins found on the map will open. Now I only managed to find three of these, but there are 10 in total, and the last section of the game you do not need them for, so that means that in this half of the game, there are 10 knocking about. These must be incredibly well hidden for me not to have found them, as I felt that I check a lot of nooks and crannies (obviously not).
Anyway the idea is that from this central hub, we can explore three different paths, but the reality is that in order to access one path, we need the air purifier, and in order to access another, we need night vision goggles, so we are really limited to the one path.
The map itself is a big puzzle that we must do in a specific order. We gain the item needed for the other path, which in turn gains us the item we need for the third path. It is classic Resident Evil, but with a different take on it. We do need the Clown key at one point in order to proceed, but it is mask upgrades needed instead of the normal medals and statuettes that Resident Evil fans have come to know and love.
There is no real need to explore, as every way is relevant to the story and you will eventually go there at some point.
One of the ways features an enormous boss that you cannot fight yet. All you can do is run, but it doesn’t tell you that right away, so you end up wasting a few grenades on it (just quickly, there are two other types of grenades you find; a stun one, and an incendiary one). This boss comes up later on when you are more well equipped for it.
One way is completely covered in contaminated air, so you cannot continue without the air purifier for your mask. Now this way was a bit confusing to me. When you travel through it, you encounter a new type of white moulded that look similar to the New Born from Alien: Resurrection. The voice in your ear tells you that you need Ramrods (or something) in order to defeat it, as like that boss monster, conventional weapons will not work. So we figured that we cannot go this way and we needed to find the Ramrods required to continue. However, the Ramrods are further in down the tunnel here, so you need to run off and make the new white moulded disappear in order to proceed. It is a bit of a bastard to figure out a you constantly feel as if you are making some sort of mistake and am just chancing it by proceeding forward down a path you do not have the right tool for.
Eventually you find the Ramrods and these are bullets which can kill the special moulded.
At one point you are find the final soldier (as the middle one died in a very horrific way that is more enjoyable to witness rather than read about) and they are trapped amongst laser tripwired bombs. These bombs became quite the focal point towards the end of the main game, and this is actually a puzzle in disguise. You will die and think “wait… what?!” but there is actually something you need to do first during this section that is not completely apparent. This is similar to the birthday party puzzle in the main game. Chances are you are not going to figure this out without dying, which is a little annoying and makes you feel like a bit of a failure.
Anyway, shortly after this your wrist bomb activates and you have 10 minutes to get to where you need to go. This feels a lot more like the Resident Evils of old, as they loved a ten minute timer. You rush through the paths you have already walked, as more enemies burst out at you along the way. This is a very heavy action section that mixes it up quite substantially compared to what we have been faced against so far in this DLC, as so far you are just a more equipped version of Ethan.
You also have to face that boss again this time, only now you are ready for him.
If I can offer a tip, it is that the special ammo works for a time and it removes the white mould shit from the enemy. Once that has gone, it is just a normal boss and can be killed with conventional weapons, so don’t waste your special bullets on it. This happens again with the final boss as well and is as annoying then as it is now.
It is during this boss battle that I realised you can punch enemies. If you have stunned an enemy either with a grenade or a shot, then while the enemy is stunned, you can uppercut it with a non-LT attack. It does look a little silly upper-cutting this massive boss monster if I am honest.
So after this is dealt with, you travel down into the secret lab beneath the Salt Mine. This is pure Resident Evil and has a very RE2 feel (the lab towards the end), as well as the end section of RE1. This part of the map is completely separate from the last, and you have no way of travelling back. From here it is just a straight run to the final boss, which is of course a mutated Lucas.
The boss itself is surprisingly difficult, as halfway through the air becomes so infected that your mask no longer functions properly and you are against the clock. The game doesn’t tell you that there are air cannisters in the room as well, so we learned this the hard way.
At the end, Chris makes a few cheesy one-liners, which he is famous for, and manages to save the day and put and end to the Baker family.
Overall the DLC is great. It continues on the story and fills in some of the blanks, as you get to see places where Everline was held during her time in the lab, as well as a what happens to Lucas Baker following the events of the main game.
Chris as a protagonist is a bit of douche. He has his eye-rolling comments and petty threats against this enemy, as well as seemingly being well more equipped and trained for dealing with the situation that Ethan was previously.
This DLC feels a lot more of what Resident Evil had become. It is nice that it is not part of the main game as it does feel that this doesn’t fit in with the overall theme of RE7. The heavy action and explosive situations are a dramatic contrast to the survival horror that RE7 became. It might be that Not A Hero is a love letter to fans who actually liked the action focused Resident Evil games, and Chris Redfield is kind of the flag bearer for this, so I quite enjoy it in that respect.
There is still horror here. Not being equipped with enough special anti white mould bullets is always scary, and some sections are eerily quiet and you find yourself just waiting for something to jump out.
For free, Not A Hero is a must get. It has new enemies, new weapons, new areas, and answers a lot of questions felt open from the main game. It is exactly what you want from a DLC, and I applaud Capcom for releasing such a DLC for free.
Running at an hour and a half, and not having other locations to explore, does make it feel a little short. We completed it in one sitting, but it was fun while it lasted. If you did RE7 months ago and was hoping for a reason to jump back on it, then this might feel a little too short for that, but if you combine it with the End of Zoe DLC (which is not free), then you will get a nice amount to sink your teeth into.