Resident Evil VII: Biohazard is a reformation to the series and roots of survival horror. We live in times of streamers, and the hype of the latest horror game to be streamed for others to take in. Capcom has done that with RE7; Capcom has taken the series to first person, like most survival horror games we’ve seen in the last few years such as Outlast, Amnesia The Dark Descent, and the Five Nights and Freddy’s series. Wise to this trend, Capcom took its biggest risk in modernizing their classic by following in the footsteps of games that are wildly popular with today’s gamer.
When looking at let’s plays for RE7, you might confuse it with Outlast, Amnesia, or P.T., thanks to the shift to first person from the trademark over-the-shoulder fare of the last three games. Part of a winning formula that makes RE:7 a cut above the rest.
The first person view really hones in on eerie feelings of the unexpected. Mechanically, the perspective just fits with the title. When handling a weapon, they do a great job of giving you the feeling of shooting a gun with the recoil and readjustment of aim. The health bar acting as blood on the edges of your screen gives you a sense of urgency and raises the awareness of what’s to come next. When the screen is covered in blood and blocking your vision, you panic, and ask yourself if you should use your last health aid, save it until you find another, or can craft one. The amount of the resources the game gives is more than enough that it makes you feel like you’ll survive through the madness of the Baker estate.
The design of the estate is phenomenal. The secret tunnels to certain parts of the house and how it connects to outside of the farm into the other sections of the estate, how they make you backtrack to discover new parts of the house that you didn’t notice the first time, feels smart and well-implemented. The puzzles are very simple, but interact with the rest of your experiences in the compound in unique ways. For example, there are collectable VHS tapes scattered around the property. They serve as side stories to show you past victims of the Bakers’ from new perspectives. Not only are these gruesome asides, but they often reveal clues about hidden entrances or how they solved part of a puzzle. How you go about integrating this information into your adventure is cleverly creative, maintaining the morbid nature of the horrific locale.
The story and mystery of RE7 feels refreshing, especially given the series’ lineage. This is a new beginning for the franchise, even in the face of scattered hints and secrets that connect it with the series as a whole. Towards the end, when you feel confident enough to face whatever may comes your way, which is when the game decides to throw another curve ball at you and makes you gain that, “oh shit, oh shit,” feeling of dread incurred like the very opening moments of your journey. The characters feel so fleshed out that you may even come to sympathize with some characters you never thought you would. Resident Evil 7 takes its time playing with your expectations.
I didn’t get to experience the game in PSVR but from even playing just on console, it makes me want to go out and buy a PSVR for the VR experience of this game. Now the game does rely on a lot of jump scares, which I imagine can be terrifying and will also get old in VR but still it’s haunting atmosphere that should keep the player hooked in the whole time.
Aiming on a controller does tend to be wonky at times. The button for a quick heal is mapped terribly on the controller, positioned right next to your trigger for firing. Ethan as a character is very flat and kind of lacks emotion towards everything that’s going around him, acting very much so as the blank male protagonist. The puzzles overall don’t quite live up to the lineage of Resident Evil, even if they’re well implemented, making them a bit too simple.
Resident Evil VII succeeds far more than it missteps. It serves as a proud and fantastic return to form to the series. It’s something new, yet it plays on nostalgia to keep past fans in for more and bring newcomers into the series without having knowledge of the past. Capcom did what could have been the impossible after Resident Evil 6, and made this franchise a must see in horror and adventure once more.
Resident Evil VII was reviewed using a standard PlayStation 4 with a retail copy of the game purchased by the reviewer. No PlayStation VR functionality was tested for this review.