Resident Evil is back and it’s a triumphant return to survival horror. For the most part. Certainly the beginning of the game. The ending does go all… well… Resident Evil but lets not get ahead of ourselves.
First big change of note is that the game is played in first person, a first for the series. This works surprisingly well as the old RE games used camera angles and tank controls to induce fear, not knowing what you could hear just out of sight and knowing you would need to take a few steps forward and there is a damn good chance the thing you hear will be right up on you, all teeth and rage. First person makes it so you can’t see what’s sneaking up on you. There were plenty of moments where I would see something, hear something and be too creeped out to turn around. My imagination dreams up more horrors than then game ever could. The atmosphere of this game is top notch.
The horror this game brings and performs so well is due in part to some excellent sound design. The house creaks like a dying animal, constantly putting you on edge. Was that the house? Or is something stalking me? Why do I only have three bullets? Did a door just open? Who’s playing the piano? The voice acting is pretty spot on as well, even if the lip syncing goes a bit wobbly every now and then.
This is all brought together with the music, which creeps up in dread slowly. It really piles on the fear, you know somethings coming but the music draws out longer and longer until you can’t take it, almost wishing for something to happen. You don’t know what to expect and are left in a constant state of fear.
Visually, the game looks great. The Baker house is dirty and run down, with filth everywhere. It looks real and with the first person perspective, you can almost feel how bad it is. It’s dark and dingy, books and magazines piled up among rotten food and half skinned animals. There’s odd notes scrawled on any available paper or even across the walls. There’s long forgotten items under the house that you stumble upon as you creep about. The place feels lived in. You believe that this place has been around, amassing its junk for a long time before the game starts.
There’s also a lot of homage to past Resident Evil’s. Herbs are back, inventory sounds and keypad sounds are all taken from previous games. It’s nice to nod back and give little easter eggs to the fans.
The game starts off really well. You travel to Louisiana searching for your lady who sent you an email. You rock up to this creepy house and obviously, without notifying police or anything you go right on in and start looking around. Lets call it what it is. Trespassing. You f**king criminal. You deserve all the shit that happens really. Well, not all of it but some of it!
The first part of the game is incredible. You have little in the way of weapons, ammo is scarce, the Bakers are creepy and unstoppable. It’s a fearful game of cat and mouse, hiding behind objects as one of the family stomps around the room, muttering to themselves and trying to hunt you down. This is where the game shines, this always tense gameplay. If spotted, they will follow you room to room, including safe rooms. You need to run, hide, shut doors and pray. Even when the showdowns happen, you don’t feel overpowered at any point. The Bakers have the edge and they know it and they let you know it. Jack laughs as you empty your clip into his skull, shrugging it off and coming at you relentlessly. Marguerite screams and screeches as she sends hordes of insects your way and Lucas… well he is a special child. As you travel through the house you also see Granny, a wheelchair bound mute old lady who just watches you as you pass by. You can’t talk to her, you can’t attack her. She just watches you…
5 minutes into Resi and Chill…
I didn’t really feel the boss fights in the game, fighting Jack was good but others just turned into bullet sponges and dragged on for too long. There wasn’t really any tricks to overcome. Just shoot all the things until it stops moving. Which is a good life rule really. Remember kids, always confirm the kill.
The other enemies in the game besides the Baker family are these things called ‘The Molded’. Black gooey monsters with teeth and claws. They can soak up a load of damage and dish out death pretty damn quick. After realizing this and the fact they can’t open doors I began to just run past them all. Which is a flaw in the game. They aren’t interesting, they just get in the way. There’s no real point to them and when they start being used constantly throughout the second part of the game I really started to lose interest. Oh another hallway with a Molded in the way. Oh that one has a different arm than the others. Super… interesting. They aren’t scary, just tiresome. Which is a shame.
The second part of the game is definitely weaker than the first. The story tries to do this big reveal that falls flat, the enemies are boring, the location uninteresting.
Another downside is Ethan, the dude you control. He’s an empty husk of a character. Zero development, which is weird considering the shit you go through as him. I get that silent protagonists are silent so you can project onto them but Ethan talks so that doesn’t work. You cant have it both ways. Also it looks like he’s wearing a rolled up white jumper whenever you see his arms (turns out its a shirt, who knew).
Between the actual game you also find video tapes and god there really should be more of them. They are fantastic. Recordings from people who have been in the house before you, victims who didn’t make it out. It’s really well done and if you play them through you know what to do when Ethan stumbles across them himself. It builds backstory to the house and the Bakers and is probably my favorite part of the game.
So in conclusion, Resident Evil 7 is a good throwback to the horror roots the series was known for. It tries to turn away from the big action set pieces and explosions and slow motion and bullshit that came with RE5+6 but just cant quite stop itself towards the end. I think it’s a good game to play, it’s not perfect and has some downsides but it was still a great game to experience. First playthrough took just shy of nine hours which is fine for the type of game it is. I don’t really see too much replay value though. I will say though that the end credits a f**king amazing and has a real True Detective vibe going on.
No idea about VR, generally makes me feel ill.
Welcome to the family, son.