Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Review
Get your Pacemakers Ready as you Dim the Lights and Plug in your Earphones. You’re in for one Heck of a Scare!
Capcom has honoured the gaming community by releasing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard to its longstanding fanbase. It began development around February 2014, featuring a brand new engine named the RE Engine, which includes VR development tools! After the release of Resident Evil 6, Capcom realised that the scale of the last game had gotten out of hand and lost what had made the franchise special. They decided to strip down the series to it’s foundations once again, which is “Survival Horror”.
Back to Basics
Despite the loyalty of the fan-base, many felt that Resident Evil 6 had strayed from it’s roots, especially after the success in Resident Evil 4. Capcom heard the cries and it seems they have acknowledged this need for the return of more horror elements. The developers began planning and the development process started early in 2014, and was kept to the down-low. They figured using a First-person perspective and keeping the game to one location would immerse the players into the horror experience better than the larger scales from before.
At E3 2015, Capcom presented to the attendants a first-person VR Horror experience called Kitchen, which ran the very same RE Engine that was being used to develop Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Capcom sneakily designed the “T” to have a small gap to it that made it look like a “7”, but it largely went unnoticed, after all, there had been no talks of a Resident Evil 7. They even brought in a westerner narrative designer, Richard Pearsey, who was the writer for the two expansion packs for F.E.A.R. After its announcement, a playable teaser was released exclusively to the PlayStation Store for Plus Subscribers, and was named Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour. Now, finally, it has been released for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and has seen large amounts of positive feedback.
A Whole Lot of Nope!
When I first started playing, I was nervous, mostly because of having known what was waiting as a result of the Playable Teaser. I soon realized how unprepared I was. You play as Ethan Winters, drawn to a seemingly abandoned homestead in Dulvey, Louisiana, by a message from his wife Mia who had disappeared 3 years ago. Five minutes into playing the game, the scenes and environments started creeping me out. Ten minutes into the game, I got even more creeped out after discovering a horrific effigy (those who have played will know what I mean) and caused me to repeatedly whisper “Nope!”. I knew I needed to press on! After walking around the house for a while, despite nothing happening, aside from the ambiance having worsened and things falling over in the kitchen and hallway for no reason, I found the save point and quite literally “Noped-Out-Of-The-Game”.
I could not believe how creeped out I was. The outside area told you everything you needed to know about the setting. Swamp-like area, creepy abandoned house, strung up murder-effigy… And then discovering a fire told me that the place was, in fact, not abandoned, and that my character, and I, might not have packed enough underwear for this trip. The first-person perspective truly immerses you, which admittedly is brilliant, and exactly what is needed for this type of game and setting. It wasn’t long before I figured if I was Ethan, I’d probably press on through this creepy house, driven by my determination to find my wife, so I went back in. Let’s just say that no matter what happened in the game, I gave Mia priority.
Enter The Horror
Like I said before, the ambiance, the perspective, the location, everything molds together for a brilliantly done horror-experience. This game focuses more on horror than action. You aren’t completely helpless however, because there are boss-fights against the Baker family and other creatures called the “Molded”, so you need to be able to defend yourself (at least). There are a variety of weapons, but it is recommended, like with previous installments, to use your ammo wisely. I was shocked by the initial splash screen when loading up the game that read: “If you feel uncomfortable, make sure to take a break”.
Well played, Capcom. Get the defenses going before actually playing. Puzzle-solving, resource management, healing herbs, item boxes and safe rooms all play a vital part in the game, and Quick time events are non-existent. Heck, even the boss-battles require more strategy, I only realized this after many retries in my first boss-battle with Jack Baker. I was a bit concerned that the story was going to stray from the original, but my uncertainty was slightly alleviated through the Playable Teaser when I saw the Umbrella Corporation’s logo on the helicopter in the photo, and when familiar names and faces later appeared. Without spoiling much about the boss battles and encounters, I will say this… The Baker family is Messed Up!
There are a few things that bothered me though (besides the obvious things). With all the glass and mirrors around, it was obvious that my character didn’t have a reflection, and this ruined the immersion slightly for me. I would even have accepted it if the image on the mirrors and glass was blurry, as a result from dust or grime, but I saw nothing of this sort. Then there is a scene where you get to re-watch (and re-play) the footage from the Playable Teaser.
A lot of you are familiar with this by now, so spoilers don’t matter here. When Andre kicks open the door to the Guest House, I happened to look back and saw that the swing-seat was moving as though something violently pushed it. Either Andre has a hell of a kick, or a majority of the sound waves bounced against the back of the swing-seat. Both are… unlikely, so I’m settling with that the physics in this scene temporarily took a break. And then comes the question of blood-loss, but I have a theory regarding this, which I’ll keep to myself for now.
Despite these little kinks, I still really enjoyed playing this game. It’s a different spin to a story in a horror game, almost seems like a meshing of many popular horror movies and games, not excluding Wrong Turn!
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has made up for a lot of the flaws the series has seen in the past. The first-person perspective gives the series a new overall feel. Capcom has done a great job at returning the series to its roots, and I look forward to seeing where they go from here. DLC was announced and released on 31 January 2017 (Article Link Here), namely “Banned Footage” which contains multiple side-stories and the game-mode “Ethan Must Die”. A story chapter separate from the main narrative called “Not A Hero” will arrive as a free download in the wake of the game’s release. The base game currently sells for R735 for PC, and R915 for both PS4 and XBox One at BTGames!
I must admit, I’m unsure if the overall length of the game warrants a price as steep as this, but if you’re keen for a seriously frightful time, definitely give this a go!