Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a return to the series roots with a whole new perspective and a whole new cast of characters. This is a soft reboot for the series and Capcom’s attempt of giving the fans what they want by releasing a more survival horror experience than what they have given in recent years.
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Approximate Size: 20.4
Genre: Survival Horror
Reviewed on Xbox One; also available on Playstation 4 and PC.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard takes the biggest departure from the series staple since the fourth did back in 2005. Gone is the over the shoulder, gone is the known series characters, and gone is the co-op gameplay. Instead what you have is a first person horror experience like others in the genre, with a desire to once again be king of the genre it once pioneered and reigned supreme in.
You play as, for the most part, Ethan Winters and you are in search of your wife Mia. Mia, however, has been missing for three years and Ethan receives a video message from Mia urging him to stay away. So, Ethan decides he has to search out and find her and this leads him to Louisiana and to an abandoned house that instantly reminds you of the mansion from the original Resident Evil.
The vast majority of this game takes place at the Baker’s residence and from Ethan’s perspective, though you do play as another character and at another location. From where the series has come, namely Resident Evil 6 which takes place all over the world, at first you would think the series was taking a step back by staying at the Louisiana swamp but you quickly learn that the Baker residence is huge and explorable.
What starts out as a game in which you want to save your wife, it quickly changes into a game where you have to focus on your own survival. It’s a rollercoaster ride from start to finish but not an action packed one like the prior entries, instead this is a slow, methodical, paced game in which hastily proceeding forward will lead you to your death. Though the presentation is different for a Resident Evil series, it is one of the better stories of the series.
The game plays in a first person perspective with you wondering around the residence with absolutely nothing. You search the Baker home for clues of Mia’s whereabouts and for a means to escape. You feel weak as you explore the home with nothing and the increasing amount of tension continues to grow as you proceed forward expecting something to happen. When nothing happens and your blood rises as your waiting for something to hinder you in some way, that’s when fear truly fills you. When things do happen, well, an even deadlier fear overtakes you. What results is gameplay without doing much and sometimes less truly is more.
As the story progresses and enemies become more common, you have to explore and find your own weaponry. There isn’t much in terms of weapons, nor does a game like this need many options, but the ones that are there serve their purpose perfectly. This isn’t like the more recent entries, ammo is limited and engagements have to be though out fully before committing much like the originals. Items are spread out through the game and used as collectables for progression, like finding three metallic items for a door to open. The way to collecting them is through cautious exploration and puzzle solving.
The puzzles in this game aren’t the most complex and the answers are usually right in front of you but the way about them are their own journey and victory. Things really intensify when you have to solve these puzzles when you’re in the midst of a boss battle. The ones that are pretty creative offer a sense of accomplishment and new avenues to explore. Overall, of all the tropes this current incarnation of Resident Evil abandons I’m glad the puzzle aspect wasn’t one of them.
As you play through the game you have to make smart choices in how you use certain items. For example, do you use your Chem Fluid for a first aid spray? Or do you save it to make more ammunition? Its decisions like these that can change how exactly you proceed through the game and how you deal with the next encounter with an enemy. It’s a nice dynamic that more games should utilize. Also, your inventory is limited and if you don’t have an item box nearby, you may have to sacrifice items that you could regret later on in the game.
The first person gameplay is new to the mainline series but at this games core, it is Resident Evil. It doesn’t rely on jump scares to the extent that other first person horror games does but it does retain the series ability to maintain spooky horror atmosphere that the games are known for. There is no co-op nor any multiplayer aspects, this is a back to basics for the series.
This is the best the series has looked to date, especially with character models. The new Resident Evil Engine was much needed as their old engine was really showing its age and his one looks like it could take the series to a whole new level, regardless of direction they go next. The detail each character has is well done and rendered so realistically and nicely that they look like real people. When I first saw the models in this game I couldn’t help but feel wonder at how far the series has come in terms of his graphical ability when it came to NPCs. They all look different from one another and each one expresses themselves, and what they are going through, in a more realistic fashion than ever before in the series.
The environment throughout the game is textured beautifully. This looks and feels like a real world. Foliage looks real and moves in the wind, guns look like their real-life counterparts, various items throughout the game look how they look in the real world. It’s beautiful and filled with the sickening deterioration and magnet of vile and filth the series is known for. The Baker residence, for example, looks filthy and something out of Rob Zombie films. My old complain is that there are certain textures that are muddy and not as detailed as the rest of the world but I fell that’s to be expected when tackling such a new and ambitious design choice the developers of this franchise aren’t really known for.
The enemies in this game look fantastic. The Baker family and other mutilated creatures look phenomenal and maintain this high standard throughout the game. There was never a time where I saw an enemy or NPC that looked out of place or that I felt didn’t receive the same level of care as the rest. This is a big improvement over, say, Revelations 2. The biggest improvement for the series and the one I felt was executed amazingly was the lighting. This is some amazing lighting, not just for the series but for a lot of games in the same genre. Shadows are dark and flickering lights actually make a difference. The way light rays come into the house from the outside is a level of realism that I, personally, haven’t seen in gaming. Even the boss fights are rendered gorgeously. This is a great looking game and makes me excited for the future of other Capcom games using this engine. I’ve stated before that performance means more than graphics, and I mean that, but this game manages to maintain both with no issues.
Let’s start with the voice acting. Voice acting is all over the place for the series as a whole. Some games have comical lines that have become memes over time and other have had lines become iconic and well delivered, like Wesker in RE5. This game has some of the best voice acting in the entire series, it is well done. The voice acting in this game needs to be commended, lines are delivered with full emotion and never does it sound out of place or poorly scripted. This is one of my favorite series and I don’t have to defend the voice acting for once and this needs to be the standard for the series moving forward.
The guns all sound good, an improvement over some entries, but some offer more than others. The flame thrower sounds great as the flame ignites and shows towards an enemy with a crackling sound as the enemies are engulfed in flames. The shotgun offers the best sound as you fire at an enemy and that’s to be expected because, well, it’s a shotgun but its more noticeable because other weapons are weak sounding. Regardless of the weapon, exploding limbs offer a satisfying sound as they explode off enemies. Especially those wonderful headshots.
Ambient and low sounds fill the world as you traverse it, only really adding music when engaging enemies. This isn’t new for the series but this is the definitive implementation of this direction for the series. With how well done this is and with the perfected formula of the atmosphere, you feel alone and its uneasy and you truly feel helpless and alone. This is another area where Capcom has finally nailed the formula it has been working on since the original Resident Evil. You feel terrified and alone when you need to be, traveling through the world haunted by creaking doors and floors and the haunting sound of enemies searching for you, and intensifying when your battling enemies and your heartbeat rises.
This is the reboot many have been asking for since RE6, or RE5, but whether or not the change in perspective is welcomed will depend on the player. I personally loved the over the shoulder camera but I don’t think it was implemented as well as it should have been, with the horror and gameplay, until the Revelations spin off series began. That being said, I commend Capcom for taking this risk and I feel that it has paid off.
This is the best the series has been in a long, long, time and it takes a plethora of steps in the right direction. The game looks and runs great, the sound is terrifying, and the gameplay is satisfying. The boss fights are nice and fulfilling, with the exception of the final boss, and it brings the series back to its survival horror roots.