Resident Evil 7 Review
Horror has truly come home. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Capcom’s latest entry in the long-running Resident Evil series, is the experience that Resident Evil fans have been waiting for since Resident Evil 4. As the game released only recently on January 24th, I will try to refrain from spoiling any major plot details or gameplay moments.
Set in 2017, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard follows the story of the brand new character Ethan Winters who travels to Dulvey, Louisiana in the hopes of finding his long-missing wife, Mia, who was presumed dead. Ethan arrives at the swamp plantation estate of the Baker family only to find something has gone incredibly wrong, and the Bakers themselves have become unstable and seemingly immortal. To save his wife, Ethan must find a way to escape the Baker estate and survive the horrors that lay within.
As is the standard for the Resident Evil series, you’re going to be thrown into the game with very little information and the story will piece itself together through files, events and scenes. Resident Evil 7 in particular is great at this, leaving little hints and clues about the backstory; including additional playable segments that I’ll talk about below.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard utilises the new RE Engine and makes the most of its new first person perspective. The game strives to be photorealistic and it adds to the immersion of the experience, especially in Playstation VR. The beginning of the game highlights these graphics with a pleasant walk through beautiful swamp foliage, before transitioning to the grim environments the series is well known for. If you’re a fan of attention to detail, I recommend taking your time (in those rare moments where you can) to look at the clutter and art of the Baker estate, that contribute to its atmosphere.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard also attempts to minimise its HUD and keep the screen as clear as it can, presumably for the benefit of VR players. Health is represented by either red clouding and splashes on the corners of the screen or via the traditional heart monitor (now in convenient watch form) when you access the inventory.
Besides tutorials appearing near the top of the screen, the only other displays you’ll see in the game outside of the map, inventory and pause screens, are a small ammo counter and prompts to pick up or examine items in the form of a small symbol representing the action button, above the object itself. For me, the minimalistic HUD helps you focus and really helps you get drawn in by the environments and the action of the game.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard mixes up the classic gameplay of the series with new features and a new perspective. The biggest change is the shift from a third-person to a completely first-person perspective. The entire game is compatible with PSVR from start to finish, providing an in-your-face horror experience that will have you scared to turn around. The focus of the game also shifts from gunning down hordes of the undead and intense set pieces, to a focus on exploration and evasion.
Capcom has made sure that, unlike previous games, you will never be overpowered or completely prepared for what the game may through at you. Ammunition is limited, as are healing items, and many of your enemy encounters will be a fight-or-flight situation and if you’re not careful, you can run out of resources in a very short time. There are, of course, traditional boss battles where you have to take down a strong enemy to escape; but a majority of these encounters require you to think on your feet and use your environment to your advantage.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard adds a number of new game mechanics to play with. The ammo crafting mechanic from RE3: Nemesis returns and Ethan can mix items such as gunpowder or herbs with chem fluid to create ammunition or healing items. Several antique coins are scattered through the estate that can be traded in for items, such as steroids to permanently increase Ethan’s health. Throughout his ordeal, Ethan can find a number of VHS tapes. Playing these tapes briefly switches to another character for a short segment of gameplay that reveals secret areas and ways to progress through the estate. If you were a fan of the themed keys and puzzles of the original Resident Evil, then you are sure to enjoy some of the puzzles the Baker estate has to offer, from animal-themed keys to light and shadow puzzles.
For the first time since the original Resident Evil, the game takes place on a single estate with seamless transitions between each area. The Baker estate is divided into several distinct areas, each with their own puzzles and a member of the Baker family ready to stalk you and torment you at every possibility. As you progress through the game and grow more familiar with the environment, the game spices it up with an unexpected surprise or by opening up a new area for you to hesitantly stroll into whilst thinking about your life choices.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is remarkably good at building tension and giving a few traditional jumpscares here and there, especially with the Baker family. Early in the game, you have to escape from Jack Baker (the father of the household with superhuman strength and a giant shovel) after being brought into the estate’s mansion. You’ll quickly notice three things: number 1, he’s hella strong, fast and walks silently; number 2, he’s immortal; and number 3, he’s probably f*cking behind you right now. If you have already played the game, then you’ll know that this sequence happens immediately after the opening gameplay which I won’t spoil, but was incredibly intense for the start of a game.
In all, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a very effective, tense and immersive horror experience. The only flaw I had found with it is that it is fairly short, with an achievement for a speedrun of just 4 hours. That said, story DLC has been teased for this coming Spring, hopefully giving us a decent amount more of the gameplay we want.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is available now for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC with the full game being compatible with Playstation VR.
Resident Evil 7 Review
Gameplay - 10/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Atmosphere - 10/10
Broken controllers thanks to Jack Baker - 10/10
Jake Franklin4 Posts
Editor-in-Chief of Gamer Laughs and Co-Host of the Gamer Laughs Platinum Podcast. I'm a total absolute nerd and loving it! Follow me @JakeDFranklin on Twitter and check out our Platinum podcast for more.