Release Year – 2017
Developer – Capcom
Writer – Richard Pearsey
Engine – RE Engine
Platforms – Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
Reviewed by John of the Dead
When we think of horror-themed video games it is impossible not to mention the Resident Evil series. Equal parts action and terror, these survival horror games were prevalent during my adolescence and aided in bringing the living dead into pop culture, along with some creatures as well. Resident Evil 6 left a sour taste in the mouths of fans, as it was panned by critics and the gaming community alike. Normally I wouldn’t have given this game a chance after its predecessor, but I was intrigued that for the first time in the series they went with the first-person perspective. While I enjoy third-person survival horror games like Dead Space, I feel that first-person games deliver better immersion into the experience. Simply put, they are scarier. Recent first-person survival horror games Alien: Isolation and Outlast 2 further support this. Because of this and the creators stating they were inspired by The Evil Dead in setting the story to one location, I gave Resident Evil 7: Biohazard a playthrough thanks to Target’s awesome Black Friday deal. Let’s just say that the game exceeded my expectations. From the immersive gameplay heavy in story developments, puzzles, and creatures that never relent, this is one of my favorite horror experiences of the year.
For this go-around you portray a civilian, Ethan. For three years Ethan’s wife Mia has been presumed dead after going missing while on a babysitting trip. Well, a cryptic email containing a video message from Mia to stop looking for her changes all that. This email leads him to the rural town of Dulvey, Louisiana. His journey takes him to a rundown estate owned by the Baker family, and while Southern hospitality requires they open their home with a hot meal, it doesn’t include imprisoning him. Something is not right with the family. They are infected with a substance that allows for regeneration of their bodies, as well as mutations that should not be humanly possible. Forced to find his way out of the estate while also investigating his wife’s disappearance / rescuing her, Ethan’s decision to heed his wife’s advice is a lesson learned in pain, death, and a biological weapon that could not be contained.
The director and creative team do a damn good job at sucking you in from the get-go. Immediately upon arriving at the Baker estate we are treated to an atmosphere that bleeds dread. Entering their dilapidated home, adorned with rotten meat in the fridge and the ever-present feeling that someone is watching you, will leave you in panic mode even if nothing is happening. This story comes with numerous developments that force you to break out of one area, leave to another, and then have to go back to retrieve items. Unfortunately, upon returning to said areas you wilt find foes that were not there before. This game always finds a way to up the ante.
Despite the story taking place in one general location you do move to different areas of the Baker estate, with each area having its own set of horrors. The horror in this game is downright awesome. There are creatures that you can’t outrun, and I get goosebumps when I think of the sounds they made knowing they were right behind me. I dug the look of all the creatures, which ranged from large swarms of bugs to mutated humans (the Molded) similar to the Lickers of days passed. The horror ranges from themes of The Evil Dead & The Hills Have Eyes to The Ring, giving us multiple sub-genres of horror action. Of course, this would not be a Resident Evil experience without boss fights, and there are plenty to go around. The boss fights range in their spectacle but all are heavy in intensity. There were certain bosses that took me forever to beat while others (who were actually “harder”) only took me one try. This gaming experience being set in the first person immerses you into the fights, making them all the more personal.
As the story develops you come across a plethora of weapons and supplies that also grow insidiously. Starting off with a pistol leaves you fearful of the creatures after you. That same fear vacated a bit when I picked up a machine gun and grenade launcher. While you may think that such weapons make things “easier”, you will in turn battle more creatures – so that really isn’t the case. For me it just made things more fun after having to run and hide for the bulk of the game.
There is a season pass for the paid DLC, and I must say that if you can afford it this is a must for fans of the game. The pass will allow you to play objectives that fill in the blanks for secondary characters, as well as a hellish “Nightmare” mode similar to Call of Duty’s zombie waves…just infinitely scarier.
Fans have also been treated to a free DLC titled “Not A Hero” and I highly recommend this as well. This isn’t just because it is free. No, I recommend this because you get to play as Chris Redfield. This content provides about two additional hours of mayhem, and is more focused on shooting than surviving given Redfield is a private military operative. This story will take place immediately after the events of the main storyline. It comes with new terrors in the form of new creatures and creatures that have been adapted to not be killed by conventional ammunition. Compliment this with the addition of night vision and lazers and I found this DLC highly enjoyable. It not only continues (and ends) the story but it does so in a different, militaristic vein, while also upping the ante when it comes to the antagonists.
Overall, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a damn good horror experience I recommend to all horror gamers. Its story will take you through numerous twists and turns, scaring the shit out of you every chance it gets.