The review below does not contain any major spoilers for the game. This product was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 using a review copy provided by Capcom.
Available Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Players: Single Player
When it comes to Resident Evil, my experience may not be as vast as most. Having tried Resident Evil 4 and then bringing Resident Evil 5 to near 100% completion, in my mind, the series has some of the best third-person survival action games of all time. When Capcom first announced the entirety of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard would be set in first-person, I was understandably skeptical. But now that I’ve had a chance to play beyond just a demo, I can understand Capcom’s confidence.
When they said that Resident Evil will be returning to its roots, they were not kidding. On the surface, RE7: Biohazard looks like a typical survival horror game with the Resident Evil tag tacked on but the moment you get into it, you’re treated to something far more substantial. This Resident Evil 7 Biohazard review covers it all.
Resident Evil 7 follows the story of Ethan Winters, a regular civilian whose wife went missing three years prior to the events of the game. When he receives a video from her out of the blue, he goes to investigate the source, a sizeable plantation out in the Louisiana. The estate is owned by the Baker family, a bunch of deranged individuals whose sole purpose seems to be to devour you both emotionally and physically. They appear to be well trained in weirding people out and staying annoyingly alive as you try to escape the house.
While the game at first seems to have nothing to do with the encompassing Resident Evil story, things slowly become clearer as you progress. There are no outright indications relating to other games in the series like the zombies we may be used to. Instead, we have grotesque beings called the Molded, which come in slightly varied forms.
Simply put, this game cannot be reimagined in third-person. The experience is absolutely terrifying and there were times where I just had to take a break because my senses were overloaded. From every small interaction in the environment to the over-arching ambience of it all, Resident Evil 7 nails everything. There is a perceptible polish to the lighting and sound that will have you jumping from one frightening stage to another.
The first-person perspective and its restricted field of view offers a way to limit what goes on in your line of sight. This means the game can take certain steps to scare the living daylights out of you, like randomly moving something off screen or setting up one of those classic “Gotcha!” moments. While I’m not a fan of horror games in general, I enjoyed getting spooked throughout the game. After a while, you get used to being deprived of well-lit environments and black goo growing out of the ceilings.
When it comes to gameplay mechanics, you could say they opted for the simpler approach. There are locked doors to get through and puzzles to solve, but they don’t really take anything away from the actual purpose of the game. They are mostly straightforward and serve only to egg you on in the story as you start to immerse yourself into the bizarre world the Bakers seem to reside in.
There’s the usual options to craft meds that gain you back your health as well as ammo to keep your weapons topped up. Inventory management is essential, similar to previous Resident Evil games and healing herbs are everywhere. One minor annoyance I’ve faced is that mission-related items that serve a limited purpose clog up your inventory space for no real reason later on. Thankfully, there is a universal storage chest available to you at multiple points on the map where you can dump all the items you don’t immediately need.
One of the most note-worthy things to talk about is how the game shifts from a true horror game to something more hybridized with traditional Resident Evil action elements. But it never strays away from that aspect in a large way. Without spoiling much, let me just say that the game tends to retain a certain level of difficulty even as you acquire more weapons. While it may seem a little stunted at some points, the game offers you opportunities to fight or flee in most scenarios.
And the boss fights are brilliant. I can’t say more without giving it away, but the design for the boss fights fits well into the game. The transitions from exploring and puzzle-solving to intense combat and survival are handled beautifully.
Speaking of the transitions though, while they might not be any loading screens while moving from one area to another, there are some out there. Specifically, when you enter into a VHS tape session, that lets you experience a side story tied to someone who visited the house before you. The loading screens could have you waiting for minutes at a time and can be a bit annoying to some. For me, they were just a chance to catch my breath.
For the most part, Resident Evil 7 brings various elements of a game together in the most efficient way possible. From the lighting angles to the dialogue, the sounds of creaking wooden panels to the breath that escapes your lips. Some of the animations did appear a tad bit waxy at times, but that’s just my nitpicking. The voice acting was a little chilling to hear when paired with the horrific scenes laid out in the game. The actors did a brilliant job making sure they didn’t interrupt the atmosphere created by the game.
Apart from a glitchy moment where Mom was stuck near a doorway, there was very little hilarity to be found during the game. The story surges forward and, while you can take your time to get from one objective to the other, the suppressive environment of the Baker estate refuses to let up. There’s not a moment throughout the game where you don’t feel like you’re in danger except for when you’re in the loading screens.
Through this Resident Evil 7 Biohazard review, it is understood that RE 7 biohazard takes a steep departure from the traditional format of the previous Resident Evil games. While this may be a deal breaker for some diehard fans, it acts as a gateway for new players to get in on the franchise. You don’t need to be steeped in RE lore to pick up this game and with roughly 10-12 hours of gameplay, it offers great value if you’re interested in the survival horror or action genre. There are modes with greater difficulties that could translate to replayability, but for the most part, a couple of playthroughs is most I would get out of it.
The game is available in VR as well, using the PlayStation VR headset. We were unable to review it on VR mode, but we may revisit it in a future article. The game launches on January 24th, 2017 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
While the Bakers might not like to, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard brings something fresh to the table. The combat isn’t the core experience this game brings forward and the elements present that link it to the Resident Evil franchise only serve to heighten the overall experience. It has great things to offer for both veteran fans and newbies alike. With 2017 underway, this Resident Evil 7 Biohazard review has already convinced us that we have a contender for Game of the Year.