Resident Evil 7 biohazard Review

Award of Excellence

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Last year at E3 2016, Capcom showed off a most cryptic trailer for Resident Evil 7 (RE7). Honestly, if the game didn't say "Resident EVII" at the very end of the trailer, I would have thought it was some new type of horror franchise. Capcom released a demo around the same time that has been being updated up to the game's full release and it provided a nice horror atmosphere from a first person view, but I still couldn't shake the feeling that this new game just didn't feel like RE. Now that I've played the full game, I can without a doubt say that the game is very much Resident Evil even with the new look and overall total revamp of most things we know from past games.

RE7 leaves a player in the dark through a good bit of the game as to what is actually going on. The main character's name is "Ethan" and we don't learn much more than that. Even though he has a voice and contributes to the story, he remains faceless and is basically the "you" character of the game. The game starts out with Ethan viewing a message from his girlfriend (Mia) that has been missing for the past three years. She tells Ethan to stay away and don't come searching for her in her original message three years ago, but, recently, he has received an email telling him that she is in Louisiana and for him to come and get her. Once Ethan goes to search for her, he finds her then gets kidnapped by a mysterious family (Baker family). After the prologue, Ethan breaks out of his constraints at a dinner table and the game truly begins as he tries to find his way off the plantation.

RE7 is as much of a reboot of the series as RE4 and, honestly, this RE is just as much of a survival horror experience as the original game (or remake of the original). The game has a first person view at all times so you see whatever Ethan sees first hand and Capcom truly takes advantage of this by throwing enemies right into your face very often. RE7 doesn't rely on cheap jump scares with loud music to scare players that much at all - the game attempts to scare you with "in your face" moments and some overall disturbing scenes and it truly worked for me. The game has some great lighting effects and environments look fantastic. Some corridors have slimy mold all over the wall and you can hear the crackling of the mold as you move down the corridor making it all the more creepy. The atmosphere is super thick in RE7 just like the remake of the original RE. I can only imagine how good this game looks in VR on PS4.

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You'll gain some of the more staple weapons from the series throughout your journey, such as the knife, handgun, shotgun, grenade launcher and other weapons, and the overall shooting gameplay feels solid. The enemies you will fight include the Baker family and a new enemy type called the "Molded". Molded are humanoid enemies composed of gooey mold that can appear at any time, especially in corridors with a bunch of mold all over the walls. The game has a hint of Outlast in its gameplay with how the Baker family will pursue Ethan through the halls of their house. You can shoot them to stun them, but they are indestructible while chasing Ethan, so you have to hide or find some way to get far ahead of them.

The game has more of a survival feel than the past few RE games. Enemies do not drop ammo anymore. You'll find all your ammunition and items from environmental pickups once again. I was running low on ammo several times during my normal difficulty play-through. Even though the game will shower you with ammo at times, it will always try to find some way to take it away from you later. Players that are not good at aiming (like me) will have a time with the Molded enemies since they are weak to headshots and they bob and weave so very much as they move toward you. Besides running away from enemies to dodge them, Ethan can block attacks, making them take very little damage - it's a very helpful option to keep in mind during just about every fight. On normal difficulty, you can save the game as much as you want at tape recorders.

Just like the old games, the main character has a limited inventory but you can find item boxes where you can stash items that are not needed. Ethan can equip a total of four weapons that are mapped to the different directions on the directional pad. You'll find a share of puzzles that you'll have to solve in order to open doors and progress further into the game. Most of the harder puzzles involve trying to rotate an object so that its shadow matches up with an image on the wall and there are plenty of puzzles where you simply have to find a certain item. There is one big puzzle that requires players to use several objects in order to work your way out of a room. You'll get to read files (that contribute well to the story) and examine some background objects just like in other RE games.

Besides the story of the main character, you'll have the option of watching video tapes that will put you in the shoes of other character to live out their taped journey. The boss fights in the game are some of the best of the RE series. Boss fights constantly change up the gameplay with new ideas and new forms of attack. There is one boss fight where you get to drive a car into the boss and another boss fight where you get to use a chainsaw to fight another boss. Every boss fight in the game feels very unique and memorable with the constant switch up.

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The story to RE7 feels more like a side story than an advancement of the main story in the series. The story is fantastic and the cryptic nature of keeping the player in the dark throughout the majority of the game pays off in the game's final moments. Even though I feel RE7 would have made a good side game for the series, I'm all for Capcom going with isolated incidents such as what we see in RE7 since the experience of having everything being all new and being in control of a character that has not dealt with this type of situation really helps out the horror experience. The cryptic nature of the story makes replays more fun since you'll pick up on dialogue that didn't make sense on your first time through and understand it more on the second play-through.

The only flaw that I found with the game is that once you beat the game, there isn't anything to do besides go through it again. You unlock a harder difficulty (Madhouse) and some new items that will help you on your next play-through, but that is it (no other extra modes). The game has bobbleheads that you can find and shoot to unlock an extra item and you can beat the game in certain ways to unlock some other items. There is a point in the story where you can choose between two endings as well. The game took me a total of 15 hours to complete, but I definitely take my time and I'm sure most players will beat it in around 10 hours.

The Madhouse difficulty is just as good as RE4's professional mode and the RE1 remake's harder mode. A player can only save the game a limited number of times by using tapes at a tape recorder similar to the older game's use of ink ribbons at typewriters. Players still get autosaves at checkpoints but those have been decreased dramatically compared to Normal difficulty. Madhouse also changes some item pickups and enemy spawns, so you'll find items and enemies in different places. Harder enemies will appear earlier and some key items take much more effort to get. Enemies are tougher and they take more damage in Madhouse difficulty.

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If you're a fan of RE games then be sure to pick up RE7 since it has a feel that suits both old and newer fans of the series. It has the survival horror of the older games and the intensity of the newer games combined into a new first person style of gameplay. The survival feel doesn't get out of hand to where it feels overwhelming and the intense feel doesn't get too heavy on the action - it's just a nice blend of the two. RE7 provides a truly refreshing feel for RE and one that I hope Capcom sticks with for future games in the main series.

The Good:
+ The survival horror feel is back
+ Even with all the changes, the game still feels like an RE game
+ Very nice boss fights

The Bad:
- The game is somewhat lacking in extras once the story is finished

Final Rating: 90% - Resident Evil 7 once again reinvents the main RE series giving us a good blend of the newer and older style of RE gameplay.


Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.