I would just like to point out before we start this review that I am a massive Resident Evil fan. Ever since I first watched someone play it back when the original came out for the PlayStation 1, I was terrified and hooked. It created this fear inside of me for a long time where I would refuse to play them, but I loved them so I would often go to a friend’s house and watch it being played. Through this I learned about path finding (often around spooky mansions or zombie-filled police stations) – which helped me massively in games involving a map, as well as puzzle solving. Both solving puzzles and survival horrors became some of my favourite things in games. It made me fall in love with Silent Hill, which was a more psychological horror experience than Resident Evil’s in your face approach, but again I never played them. I went from friend to friend playing various different survival horrors with them. It was something about the camera angles and the aiming in the heat of the moment as a zombie approaches you that I couldn’t get on with. I think I have always had a fear of failing and the intense moments that cause them were too much for my fragile little younger self.
I have seen every single Resident Evil played and know most of them (1, 2, 3, Code Veronica, & 5) like the back of my hand. I even loved Resident Evil: Gun Survivor, which made me love the cliché amnesia story line that is now massively overdone.
Now this is controversial, but I am not a massive fan of Resident Evil 4. I know people love it and I can understand why they do, as it was a total refresh of a staling franchise, which was a breath of fresh air and had the original creator return, but to me, Resident Evil 4 just felt a little bit silly in places. The gameplay worked, but it didn’t feel the same, and I think it was here that the creators started taking it to this action orientate place that Resident Evil became. I am looking at you Resident Evil 6.
I do like that Capcom are not afraid to nuke the franchise and build upon the ashes, but rather than do a complete reset, they try their hardest to make it canon and continue the story that they have already created. For me Resident Evil is my childhood. I have enjoyed them throughout my entire life and to throw away all that lore would cut me deep, despite the fact that it is a complete mess.
Now following the PlayStation demo P.T. (which was revealed to be a new Silent Hill game directed by Hideo Kojima), the world fell in love with survival horrors again, mainly first person ones thanks to other games like Amnesia and Outlast. At this point in time, the Resident Evil franchise had lost its way with number 6, which was a total shit-show and all over the place. It had no individuality of its own, was too action orientated, and had become a co-op multiplayer game (same with Dead Space 3), and horror games can never truly be scary if you and a friend are dicking about together.
So it seemed like Capcom decided now was the time to nuke the series once again (having previously done it with Resident Evil 4 after they churned out game after game that got less and less in quality and history had repeated itself) and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was announced. This was a first person true survival horror which took the franchise back to its roots and actually was set in a residence of evil. It was promised to be the scariest game since the original and completely changing the way that survival horrors are played.
Now I would just like to point out that in Japan, the series is called Biohazard, so calling the game Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, works brilliantly, as in Japan the game is called Biohazard: Resident Evil, and with the fact that the “VIL” on the box looks like 7 in Roman numerals, everything seems like it is falling into place for this game before it is even released.
A few months before the release of the game, a demo was available to play. I managed to muster up the courage to play this, as the controls had been completely revamped and redesigned, and now functioned similar to other FPS games. FPS games I can get along with, as I know how to react and how to turn and aim as soon as something jumped out at me, where as in the originals, I was too scared to move that way. It is madness I know, but funnily enough, I do know other people who feel the same.
Earlier this year I decided to test myself by playing and completing the original Dead Space. I felt I needed to grow up and start playing survival horrors myself (following on from playing Alien: Isolation because I love the Alien franchise so much), but also because I wanted inspiration for my own science fiction horror story I am writing.
I do feel that now I could go back and play all the games I have only watched myself… but we will see how I get on.
If you are unsure about this game, then I recommend playing the demo. The wicked thing is that the demo is a prequel story that does not affect the main game, nor spoil anything, as it is just a standalone story set before the events of the main game with a different cast of characters, so definitely check it out, and even more so if you have played the main game.
Although it only works for the first playthrough, as you will know where the scares are and the truth that there is actually only one enemy to face in the entire demo.
Having played the demo, I loved it and what they had done with the franchise, so when my fellow Bearded Robots wanted to start it together (as we often play games once a week in the evening together and 9 times out of 10, it is a horror game of some kind), I stepped up and offered to play.
You can actually check out our entire run through in the 6 Let’s Play Videos, starting from here:
If you do watch these, or have been following our adventures on the site (first of all I would like to thank you) then you will see that this game is completely different from any Resident Evil game ever made. It is clear that Capcom did really do what needed to be done in order to make the series great again. It is a kind of ‘break glass in case of emergency’ situation and I look forward to seeing what happens in the future when they have to do this again.
The plot follows a man called Ethan who has gone to some backwater remote Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esc place in the deep south of America (Louisiana I think) where he has gotten a video email (as it is 2017 at this point) from his girlfriend who has been missing for about a year. She tells him not to come, so naturally he is going.
He arrives at the Baker residence (well the guest house to be fair, but it is on the Baker’s big plantation estate) and searches for her, only to discover that the members of the Baker family all appear to be strange murders sadists.
Now I will not go into the plot, as discovering what exactly is going on is part of the enjoyment of the game. I will say that there are links to the other Resident Evil games, but this becomes more apparent the further game goes on. In fact there is a section towards the end set on a wrecked cargo ship, which does echo the newer Resident Evil games. There are also some more blatant links right at the end, so be sure to check them out.
One great moment was when I discovered a cut out of a newspaper article about the destruction of Raccoon City taking place 16 years ago, which I think works out nicely in terms of the history of the series.
Anyway, Ethan must explore the various buildings on the Baker estate, most of which are dilapidated ruins. The actual Baker mansion feels a bit like the Spencer mansion from the original Resident Evil. There are even a few little puzzles in there that are straight out of the original game. Having things like different keys (the crow key, the snake key, etc) feel very Resident Evil and that made me instantly fall in love with this game.
Exploration is key here. You search through cupboards and draws for items, grabbing herbs and exploring in order to progress. There are puzzles here to solve and locked doors to bypass, but you need to have found the key items in order to progress, making it truly feel like the series has returned to its roots.
There is only 1 type of enemy in this game, but there are a couple of variants of it, however there is not overly much difference (except for the big one that throws up venom on you) between them. Fighting them can be quite intense, as they ooze out of the walls or ceiling and some of them run at you after you have hit it a couple of times. Beard Robot tip… aim for the head.
There was a time where there were loads of them in a small room, and that got hairy. The enemy can overwhelm you if you are not well equipped and separate them as quickly as possible.
Save Rooms has returned and feel just as safe as before. The classic item box returns and I spent a lot of my time micromanaging my inventory, as you have limited backpack space, which weapons take up as well, with some of the bigger weapons taking up two slots like in the newer Resident Evil games.
In these Save Rooms you are safe. So getting into one is a breath of fresh air, allowing you ample time to reassess the situation outside and get prepared. I found myself often running back and forth to them after picking up items I wanted, but didn’t necessarily need at the time.
This brings us to the crafting. Resident Evil 7 features a crafting system whereby you can combine items (such as gunpowder, herbs, or solid fuel) with different levels of chemical packets to create bullets, healing items and other such items. There is also a Separating agent which allows you to break down a previously made item into their core elements, allowing you to reuse it for something you actually need.
Healing wise, you can no longer just eat (or smoke) a herb as in this game, using a herb on its own cures next to nothing, so you need to use the crafting system to make proper first aid… juice which Ethan pours over his hand to cure almost anything.
I used nearly every chem packet I could find crafting everything so naturally I found myself stocked up with ammo at the end of the game. I would either avoid enemies or take them out with my weakest weapon in hopes that I would save the bigger guns and ammo for the bosses, but the bosses themselves were over before I actually realised, and I ended the game with an unbelievable amount of ammo left over, making me wish I had gone a little gung-ho in terms of shooting, but I do feel that this made the game a lot more scary and intense for us, so we enjoyed it more because of it. When we did acquire the machine gun and a load of ammo for it, we made great use of it.
As for the bosses, Resident Evil 7 has about 3 of them, so a little less than we are use to. There is no final boss either (well not really) so it does feel like it lacked in that department. One boss was almost straight out of The Legend of Zelda with hinting where the weak spots are, where as another is absolutely terrifying and makes you feel at a complete disadvantage, which was personally fantastic in my eyes, as it made the battle so much more intense, and I do kind of wish that the game featured more of this.
There are some great moments in the house with Jack, who is almost a Nemesis type character (if you are familiar with the series) in which he cannot be defeated, only slowed down, and peruses you through different sections, making you run, hide, and grab whatever you can as quickly as you can before running off.
Eventually the game takes a bit of a turn about two thirds of the way through, not necessarily in a bad way, where the game becomes more like the film Saw, where you must navigate a trap-filled area, while at the same time taking out the enemies all around you. It came at the right sort of time and helped the game from becoming stale.
A great section involving solving a puzzle where you are weaponless is also great, but I did feel that it was not maximised, as having one single enemy in there would have made it incredibly suspenseful and terrifying, so they did miss a trick at some points.
The game does then make another turn in the last quarter and resets you almost. You play as a different character with a completely different inventory, in a whole new location, making it almost feel like a piece of DLC. It does go back, but for that section of the game, everything has been reverted back to zero and you find yourself against enemies with no weapons (and no unarmed attack), so you really do have to play the game like Outlast and just get by without dealing any damage. As surprising as it was, it was a really nice change of pace to the game.
A new addition to the game is the collection of antique coins, which are scattered all across the game, most of which hidden, which are used to pay for locked weapons in gilded cages found in one of the Save Rooms. Something like this would normally break immersion, but it is done in a very atheistic way so it does actually feel natural. It is through these that you can also gain supplements to increase your health and reload speed, but it did not feel necessary. The only time we used these was when we found them through the hidden treasure items found by looking at a picked up picture and going to that location. Here there will be a hidden section which gains you access to the treasure. It is a nice little touch, which maybe only occurred about three times in the whole game.
The length is one of my issues with this game. It is good in one way as any longer might have spoiled my enjoyment of the game, as at this point in time, I am actually left wanting more and will be jumping on the free DLC, which takes place after the main story and continues the game on, titled; Not a Hero (so be sure to watch for the video run through of this).
The game does feel short, and if I had not been playing it once a week for a couple of hours at a time, I would have had done it a lot sooner and in a much shorter time frame than I actually did.
Overall I would say that Resident Evil 7 was one of the best games that I played last year (I know it came out in February 17, but I didn’t start it until December and only finished it last week (11th of January 2018. You get the idea). It was definitely in my top 5 games of 2017, maybe even a close second behind Horizon: Zero Dawn. I think maybe if I had more time to reflect on it then Resident Evil 7 might have actually been the best game I played last year.
While it is not perfect (the length, the stereotypical southern American characters, the plot, and the lack of different enemies are are few things that come to mind in terms of negatives to this game), Resident Evil 7 is still brilliant. It is a refreshing change of pace once again for this franchise, and one that was really needed given how action packed the series had become.
I would say that it is kind of a one time run through game, unless you are going for all the collectables, all the bobble heads which you can shoot, or achievement hunting, then you will only place this game the once, so the replay value of this game is low, but you can pick it up quite cheap now so it is definitely worth the 9 hour run through.
A great thing is that the story is either continued or buffed up by the DLC. Banned Footage volumes 1 and 2, Not A Hero, and End of Zoe are all available (only Not a Hero is free) and should help to quench that thirst that you will have picked up from playing this game and am now craving more.
I know I am and will definitely look into some of these.
If you are a fan of the survival horror genre (even if you are not one of Resident Evil games), a fan of the series, or a fan of classic horror movies, then Resident Evil 7 is for you. While is more of a light first person survival horror compared to games like Outlast, it is just enough to keep you on the edge of your seat as you explore this evil residence.