A welcome change to an aging franchise that stemmed away too far from its roots.
Resident Evil 6 (2012) was in no way a horrible game, but many fans of the Resident Evil franchise agreed that the game was more about action, with a small horror element. While the gameplay was excellent for what it was, the story lacked tension, and there seemed to be very little horror within each location or set piece. But in recent years, Capcom have taken the feedback and have taken a risk with the Resident Evil series, and it has paid off, but with some issues.
Resident Evil 7 (2017) is a first person survival horror game that takes place within the rural regions of Louisiana. The first thing you will notice once playing the game is its environments, because they are all excellent well designed and look amazing. Resident Evil began in an aristocratic mansion, and beautiful one at that. It is safe to say the Baker plantation succeeds in establishing a tense, memorable environment that is on par with the locations of Resident Evil 4 (2004). Now while the environments are impressive, the gameplay does need some fine tuning.
This, is not a bad game, nor is it an okay one. It’s actually highly impressive for what it is. Switching to a first person perspective is actually not a first for Resident Evil. Years ago there was a failed attempt with the game Resident Evil: Dead Aim (2003) that got less than subpar reviews. But this is the first time Resident Evil has successfully accomplished the first person perspective.
The player is able to arm himself with a variety of different weapons including shotguns, a pocket knife, handguns, and even a flamethrower. Each has craftable ammo that can either be enhanced or made normally. In order to craft, you must find “chem fluid” or “strong chem fluid”. “Strong chem fluid” can enhance herbs, ammo, and other resources. It is also a possibility the player will find a separating fluid that will allow the player to extract the chem fluid from a certain resource. An item that proves very useful is psychostimulants, which enable the player so the locations of all hidden resources. Scavenging the environment is extremely important when finding keys, resources, weapons, and cassette tapes that show a different side of the story.
Aiming in the game is relatively easy, with the player being able to hip fire in order to quickly hit the target, but they are also able to aim to a specific area to deal maximum damage. If need be, the player can run, or crouch to get away from the threat. The player can also block which helps them not take as much damage. Unfortunately, the stealth element does need some fine tuning as it is very clunky and stiff and not nearly as smooth and tentious as the combat. Considering this is the first successful attempt at a first person resident evil game, they can improve upon this in the later installments.
The player will encounter a variety of different enemies, the most common being the “Molded”. People who have contracted a new virus that turns them into mindless ghouls. These enemies are definitely not nearly as creative as the Baker family nor any other enemy in the Resident Evil loir. But in the beginning they are definitely engaging, but they soon become repetitive and tedious. The Baker family is definitely the most intriguing characters in the Resident Evil series seen in recent years. Each has their own distinct personalities, gameplay elements, and set pieces. They are highly enjoyable and even on some occasions terrifying. Jack, Marguerite, and Lucas all prove to be original and in depth bosses. Jack is often the pursuer, and will attempt to chase you until your final confrontation with him. Marguerite is more defensive, while she does pursue you, she only does this because she wishes to be left alone. Lucas is more deceiving, as he enjoys your pain and pursuit of him. Consider him the Jigsaw character of the game, as he will place traps in order to slow you down. All boss battles are enjoyable, and there are many moments where the tension will rise and fall, only to be perfectly put back into motion again.
The environment of the plantation is definitely worth a mention, because each room, corridor, set piece, and object, is perfectly placed to make everything seem realistic given the circumstances. The sound design, to put it bluntly, gross. There are many moments where you will hear something cringeworthy, but in a good way. The amount of gore in the game is also disturbing, both the sound design, and graphics fit together perfectly. It is common throughout the game, to be genuinely anxious, or terrified of just going through a door, awaiting your next endeavour.
The player will be forced to make difficult decisions in resource management, and overall story progression. Thankfully, Resident Evil 7 (2017) does capture what has been missing in the franchise since Resident Evil 4 (2004), true survival horror.
Now this part of the game is hit or miss, surprisingly, the game heavily relies on its excellent set pieces, and overall horror. But there is still a somewhat intriguing story.
The story follows Ethan Winters who is drawn out by his wife Mia, that has been missing for three years, he discovers her at a seemingly abandoned house which proves to have it’s secrets. The game does have excellent pacing, with only one portion of the game heavily affected the horror and pacing.
Now, the best characters within the game are the Bakers. In fact, the game is supposed to have hidden nods to other Resident Evil games, including a cameo of an old character from the franchise. There are definitely some connections to the loir, but the overall story is not as standout as the game’s predecessors.
Ethan Winters, is in general the most cliche character I’ve seen in a horror game. In fact there are some occasions where he is just too stupid. For example, there is a section the game where Mia goes ballistic and tries to kill Ethan. After cutting your arms to shreds and literally stabbing through your hand, in self defense you supposedly kill her with a hatchet. After walking back, her body is gone, which mutilates your left arm. Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s an instant divorce in my opinion. But still Ethan continues to help her, and there isn’t much to like about her. Both characters prove to be cliche and overall overshadowed by the series previous character such as Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy.
In the game, the Baker’s daughter, Zoe will attempt to help you by calling certain phones around the house that will tell you where to go. Once you get to a certain section within the game, the story attempts to exploit the plot by a slow section of walking and backtracking in a certain location. This brutally kills the tension and pacing, almost to the point of ruining the story.
Resident Evil 7 (2017) does not rely on it’s story, it relies on it’s gameplay and horror elements. Which is still good, but once the next installment hits I do hope there will be a more in depth story with a better protagonist.
- Excellent set pieces, with great bosses and enemy encounters.
- Well designed and in depth survival horror gameplay.
- Fantastic and highly impressive sound design and graphics.
- In depth antagonists that are highly memorable and enjoyable to watch.
- Cringeworthy gore that can definitely make things disturbing.
- Surprisingly good backtracking, I actually never got annoyed with revisiting a certain section of the plantation.
- True horror, this is a “pro” because it is something the Resident Evil franchise has been missing for years.
- Difficult choices involving both gameplay and story.
- Gameplay is simple enough to handle and easily adaptable.
- A forgettable protagonist that proves to be highly cliche and on some occasions not that intelligent.
- A repetitive enemy type that overstays it’s welcome in the game.
- Stiff and rather shallow stealth elements that do need some fine tuning.
- The wrecked ship location deeply affects the pacing and tension the game has.
- Not so memorable soundtrack compared to other entries like Resident Evil 4 (2004) and even Resident Evil 6 (2012)
- A rather shallow story compared to the game’s predecessors, while not bad, it still could’ve been more in depth.
Final Score: 8.3/10
Resident Evil 7 (2017) does change many things from its predecessors, most notably the switch from a third person perspective, down to a first person perspective. It creates a terrifying and memorable location, while also improving upon gameplay elements that have been missing since Resident Evil 4 (2004) such as proper inventory management and combat. While there are some improvements to be made, it is a good sign that the Resident Evil franchise has gone back to its roots.
Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
January 24, 2017