Friday, 3 February 2017

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

Resident Evil 5 wasn’t as bad as many people would have you believe, but Resident Evil 6... well, that was a bit of a digital car crash, wasn’t it? It had some good bits, but you had to dig through the wreckage for ‘em. So how did Capcom choose to redeem the series with the seventh game? By producing something that looks nothing like a Resident Evil game, of course!


 The series began with a series of fixed, often awkward third-person camera angles. RE4 brought the camera in close and personal with an over-the-shoulder view. RE7 jams the camera right inside your character’s face for a first-person experience. This, combined with the entirely new set of locations and characters, means that it feels more like a sequel to Condemned than Resident Evil. While neither as scary nor as expertly directed and designed as the first Condemned game (I’m not changing my mind, get over it), the experience is thick with trepidation and gloom from start to finish. The jump scares may be cheap, but boy, are they effective.


As in Condemned, the places you’ll be exploring are dark, neglected, and full of unpleasantness. Plenty of long corridors to glimpse something (or someone) at the end of and, of course, plenty of corners for something to jump/stagger from with all intention of decorating the walls with your intestines. How much you need to conserve ammo and consider running rather than fighting depends on your chosen difficulty; but as a rule, a steady hand and careful scouring of your environment should usually be enough to ensure you don’t run dry. This doesn’t apply on the highest ‘Madhouse’ difficulty where autosaves are almost absent, enemies are tougher and more numerous, and you need a physical item to manually save (just like the old days).

What you’ll generally find is that periods of exploring are punctuated by brief but intense moments of combat. Standard enemies (of which there are only a few types) are brand new, but reminiscent of certain ones found in Resident Evil Zero and Revelations. Keep your cool, concentrate on headshots, and most encounters actually aren’t much to worry about. The overall experience is a neat mix that keeps you engaged throughout. You’ll always have one eye on your surroundings while searching for clues and items; there are a small number of puzzles, which are interesting if not ingenious; and there are a handful of videotapes to find, which trigger short interactive sequences from the past where you take control of other characters. Only one – the longest – is compulsory. 

There are also – of course – bosses. The earliest ones are arguably the best, facing off against a casual but seemingly unstoppable Jack Baker. Later examples are more disappointing, particularly the final encounter which requires you to do nothing more than point your weapon in the right direction and keep firing.


It’s a great action horror game, but anybody hoping for the experience that P.T. would’ve been will be disappointed. The graphics are similarly superb (if slightly inferior), and it similarly benefits by default from the use of a first-person perspective. However, it stops being out-and-out scary within an hour or so. There’s none of the psychological trickery that made P.T. such a mindfuck, and as it doesn’t take too long to get your hands on a variety of weapons, you don’t exactly feel defenceless.
As was very much the case with Resident Evil 4, shaking things up with Resident Evil 7 has been an enormous success which has resulted in one of the best games of the series (even if it doesn’t feel like it fits in quite so well as it should). If this is the way Capcom plans to carry on the series – count me in. 

Welcome to the family, son. 4/5


★★★★☆

Luke Kemp



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