Resident Evil 7 came out recently to strong reviews. I’ve never been a huge Resident Evil fan, but I really enjoyed RE 4 and the reviews convinced me to give it a shot. I heard that this game was supposed to get back to it’s survival horror roots. I like horror movies, and I love forcing my wife to watch horror movies even more.
One thing that I think I’ve failed to mention on this blog is that I kind of hit the jackpot with my wife. She enjoys watching me play video games almost as much as just watching normal TV. For instance, I picked up Nioh (post incoming) the other night and set it to download before we went out for dinner. When we got back, it had installed and was ready to go. She was disappointed when I told her I was too tired to play it until the next night. None of my other buddies wives do that, so I think I’m a pretty lucky guy in that respect.
In the past, the Resident Evil proper games have always been played from a third person perspective. This game brings the series into the first person perspective for the first time. This is a great choice, because the shift in perspective plays to Resident Evil 7’s strengths. The game is set in a large plantation in the south of Louisiana. Ethan, the main character, is searching for his missing wife. The first person perspective brings the player in close and amplifies the horror aspects of the game. Ethan has to explore a house filled with the murderous Baker family and a bunch of goopy sewage monsters. Having the perspective in close makes the jump scares that much more effective than if the game was in third person.<
The pacing in this game is also very different. Instead of constantly mowing down enemies with machine guns, encounters with enemies are much more rare. A lot of the game is spent creeping around the house, solving puzzles, and trying to avoid fighting one of the Bakers. The game creates a sense of tension and suspense by limiting the amount of ammo you receive, so you’re constantly worried about the next encounter. I never ran out of ammo completely, but the game gives you just barely enough ammo to survive each encounter. Subtle music and audio cues also increase the tension. The first hour especially was very scary, it literally felt like watching a horror movie. After the first hour or so the game falls into it’s natural rhythm of exploring, solving puzzles, and boss fights. But that first hour was really something, and it absolutely freaked my wife out.
The combat itself is alright. The enemies are susceptible to headshots, and the sensitivity of the movement and aiming is very slow. The enemies move their heads a lot, so it can be difficult to consistently hit the goopy guys consistently. Add to this that you constantly feel like you’re on the verge of running out of ammo and the normal enemy encounters are fun and increase the tension of the game. However, the boss fights are super dumb. There’s not much creativity going on with the boss fights, you basically just have to pump all of your ammo into them until they drop. I was hoping for something that matched the rest of the game, but the bosses felt ripped out of the older RE games. Point and shoot until they’re dead. Maybe adding a puzzle boss or something that played up the horror focus of the game might have been a better choice. I don’t know, I’m not a game designer, but the boss encounters were a glaring sticking point for me as I played through this game.
Resident Evil 7 takes the series back to it’s roots. There’s almost no mention of traditional RE characters or settings (not even any zombies really), and I think that was a wise choice. It feels almost like a standalone story told in the RE universe. If they keep making games like this one, then I’m back on the Resident Evil train.