A Delightfully Horrifying New Perspective
We’ve come a long way since first being trapped inside that unforgettable mansion in Raccoon City during the mid 1990s. We’ve experienced some of the most exhilarating moments in video game history with an array of characters and horrifying monsters since first being introduced to Rebecca Chambers and Billy Young. Resident Evil 7 is no exception in that regard. The newest Resident Evil installment from Capcom is a terrifyingly brilliant work of living art that completely alters the way the game is presented while simultaneously preserving its historic roots. Its deviations not only breathe new life into the twenty-year franchise but also provide a platform that will subtly keep your skin crawling with anxiety.
The backstory pits a new protagonist, Ethan Winters, against a murderous family known simply as the Bakers. Ethan is driven to this forsaken land to find his beloved wife who was previously thought to have been killed. Of course, a groundbreaking shift in the Resident Evil franchise wouldn’t be complete without a setting that nods back to the original game that started it all during the mid 1990’s. Yep, Ethan is trapped in a mansion on the bayou of Louisiana, complete with swamps and a creepy family dressed in overalls. The mansion isn’t very large, but you’ll certainly use every square inch of it trying to survive what this psychotic family throws at you, literally.
Resident Evil 7 ’s most noticeable improvement comes in the form of the first-person perspective. Capcom has finally placed gamers at the forefront of the action by moving them directly into the thick of the action with the first-person point of view. The choice to change from the classic third-person perspective, which has become synonymous with the series, was both bold and genius. Not only does the game feel much more terrifyingly authentic, but more importantly, it allows players to soak in the carefully crafted atmosphere for all it’s worth.
It’s true, some players won’t like the change, but Capcom has softened the blow by opening up the world for a nice balance of exploration and heart-pumping action. The sounds alone will leave you exhausted and stressed out for fear that something’s hiding in the room next to you. It’s true, the franchise has long been known for its ability to turn grown men into scared little children. Unfortunately, the series’ recent action-packed direction has hindered its ability to take any significant strides forward – until now.
Resident Evil 7 brings us a perfect balance of both worlds, which allows those players obsessed with finding goodies and exploring every inch of space available to run wild. As a result, the constant high intensity action seen in previous versions is replaced by an elevated buzz of anxiety with carefully placed spurts of intense engagement. The game flows perfectly and naturally carries the story forward without any forced points. This type of story progression is incredibly difficult to achieve but is pulled off flawlessly from the minute you fire this bad boy up. It’s certainly something that needs to be experienced firsthand to understand the true depth of the living story.
The game’s organically-told story is accompanied by an array of vintage Resident Evil puzzles scattered throughout the mansion. They blend nicely into the overall experience and don’t ever feel forced. Unfortunately, they’re painfully easy to complete and their solutions tend to reveal themselves before you’ve really even started to tackle them. Ideally, the puzzles would come with some degree of difficulty early on and increase as the game progresses. In fact, it seemed like the complete opposite as I began to advance forward into the mansion of horrors and unpleasant surprises. It’s no surprise the game’s total play time equates to a mere 10-15 hours.
The other main downfall of the game comes in the form of the shooting mechanics, or lack thereof. I shouldn’t be surprised, after all this is a Resident Evil title and we surely haven’t seen a decent aiming mechanic yet. However, when I did manage to land one on target, it was extremely satisfying. Headshots in particular were fantastic, but then again, those were few and far between. Either I’ve been spoiled by great first-person shooting controls my entire gaming life, including those questionable Goldeneye: 007 ones, or I’m just a washed up old hack who can’t shoot his way out of a paper bag. Nonetheless, I was still expecting something more than what felt like hip-firing after a few shots of Espolón tequila.
On the upside, Resident Evil 7 ’s boss fights are a nice compliment to the normal action. They seemingly pop out of nowhere to scare the living daylights out of you and immediately thrust you into survival action. These encounters only add to the anxiety the game creates because no indicators are given about the status of the enemy. I couldn’t help but find myself wondering if this dude was going to die or if my bullets were simply ineffective. Fortunately, the ammo provided does the trick, you just need to be patient. Some folks might hate this non-responsive mechanic, but I think it blends well with the way the game was designed, inflicting unsettling and uninformed chaos on the player.
Resident Evil 7 truly delivers an experience unlike anything I’ve even been exposed to in the gaming world. It’s fresh, unique, a little bit nostalgic, and downright stressful to play… in a good way. Capcom has taken some seriously impressive strides forward in the franchise and has potentially rescued it from fading into obscurity though this distinct and highly effective new point of view. Resident Evil is back and it will grip your from start to finish until you can’t possibly take anymore.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
The visuals complement the gameplay well and add to the horrifying total immersion. 3.0 Control
Classic Resident Evil controls that feel more clunky than before. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sounds blend nicely with the visuals to create a truly terrifying experience. 4.5 Play Value
The replay value is low but the impact of those short hours more than makes up for it. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best