It’s been a long and painful road to recovery for the series which almost destroyed itself with certain action packed titles. Capcom have listened and now are ready to bring their renowned survival horror titan back to place that’s familiar and loved. Will the glorious crown of worms and rotten flesh be rewarded and will this be the revival from the grave this series needs? Welcome to the family son, here’s Resident Evil 7.
Resident Evil 7 does a good job at presenting you with something familiar yet new when it comes to long term fans or those who enjoyed the older games. I was ready to buckle down and feast on the gruesome exploits of the Baker Family after a short intro into the game. You star as generic white guy Ethan Winters who’s looking for his beloved wife Mia who’s been missing for three years now. A tip leads Ethan out to the Southern state of Louisiana and discovers an old house in the middle of nowhere. What follows next is only a taste of the horrid things to come involving possession, chainsaws, and dismemberment. Soon enough, however, we meet the real nightmare of Resident Evil 7, The Bakers.
After a gruesome dinner scene (made more gruesome through VR) Ethan is told he must escape the house and find Mia in the process. He must toughen up and survive the many horrific encounters awaiting in the Baker Estate.
On the surface, Resident Evil 7 seems to be a different beast altogether but the game itself feels very much in tuning with any older Resident Evil title. The main factor to consider is the first-person perspective which lends beautifully to capturing the intensity and agony this journey has on offer. The horror aspects will grind on your nerves and the limited vision is great for chases, immense combat situations and builds up tension when you simply open a door.
Everything else functions on a familial ground as you’ll explore a vastly detailed location to find keys, locate resources, solve puzzles and survive a variation of dangers from monsters to death traps. Resident Evil 7 captures the nature of what survival horror is and does a damn good job at creating a refreshing experience that’s not overbearing or tedious, which I personally found with games such as Outlast. You have the option to fight, run or hide and it’s up to you and your ability to survive the situation at hand by any means.
This is a sophisticated trial and error game where those with keen eyes, steel nerves, and strategic thinking will reap the rewards and live longer. Exploration is a key element in gameplay and believe me there are plenty of hidden rewards for those willing to look. Mechanically the game is simply and works well to induce a sense of helplessness but with progression, you do become tougher to kill. Crafting plays an important part in survival as you can combine herbs, gunpowder and other raw materials with Chem-fluid, creating vital resources such as health and ammo.
Resident Evil 7 creates a beautifully detailed and organic world that will surely immense players from the get go. The Baker estate is a massive Plantation where Jack, Margarete, and Lucas live with each of them owning and haunting certain areas. The atmosphere is intense, brooding and every noise you hear, every flicker of a light and will put you on edge. There’s good reason too as you’ll encounter the Bakers, the Moulded or something worse around every corner of this decaying world. I found Jack to be the most captivating as he pursues relentlessly down the tight, winding corridors and deals a huge amount of damage with his collection of axes, shovels, and saws. Margarete is also intense, especially during her boss battle yet is very easy to bypass. The same can go for Jack who is at times brutal in his pursues but can be easily lost by simply entering a new room and crouching down.
Their A.I could do with some tweaking but for the most part they function fine and are entertaining to listen to as they curse and deliver darkly sinister threats.
The first two acts are brilliantly paced, captivating and hold some of the best segments/set pieces in any Resident Evil game. The resource management aspect is essential while finding new weapons, keys and boss fights are very strong for the first half of the game. You find yourself most often having to make tough choices whether to make health, ammo or wait until you can make an advanced version of either. Then there’s the rush of joy reaching a save room in peace, this game does so well to create dread and making you feel relieved to reach a single room.
As said early boss battles are fantastic and hold a great deal of intensity any Resident Evil fan will enjoy. You’ll be engaged and tested on your reflexes, resource management, and lateral sense in these sections alone. Otherwise, the game does well to pace encounters and fights with lateral elements and survival. One downside is a majority of puzzles feeling embarrassingly simple, lacking any true lateral challenge. I love the complexity of the Baker Estate and felt the progression when finding a key to unlock more rooms to be more enthralling. Along with finding new weapons and puzzles, they bring to acquire them. As said the puzzles aren’t bad but rather lack more the aspect of challenge a Resident Evil fan would miss.
My main issue with Resident Evil 7 is the third act which simply loses focus, becoming dull and lacking the impact of the first two. The game becomes linear, more of a corridor shooter where the Molded just outstay their welcome as an enemy type and become tedious to engage with. The segment where you play as Mia on the boat is fine and could’ve helped end the game on a high note of sorts, but the climax feels extremely rushed with a final boss that’s painfully lackluster, looking just like the lame slug monsters we got from Resident Evil 5. But Resident Evil 7 still holds high replay value and thanks to some neat unlocks, you’ll be compelled to come back for multiple play-throughs. I would have liked to seen maybe an additional mode (like Mercenaries or something similar) but getting a neat gun, a brutal difficulty and some in game items isn’t too bad. Plus, there’s some free DLC to enjoy this March.
Overall, Resident Evil 7 is a fine return to the series’ roots and indeed hails the return of the survival horror king. This will appease any long-time fan or those looking to get into the series’ sense of horror. Apart from the sloppy third act, the molded losing their impact as enemies and some dull puzzle elements, the brutal combat, tension, and pacing in the first two acts make up for this. Not to mention the replay value this game has with the Mad House mode will make the experience feel even more like the traditional Resident Evil. This gets a high recommendation for all to pick up and play.