I’ve always been a fan of the Resident Evil series since its first incarnation on the PlayStation One. It was the first game on the system that established the enduring genre of “survival horror” that spawned countless other games. Though the recent titles fell a bit flat for me, the franchise still holds a special place in my heart (and nightmares).

 

Now, fast-forward 2017, Capcom looks like it took a huge gamble with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, presenting a fresh new feel and atmosphere that seems to be moving away from the usual bread and butter. Will the latest take on a time-tested theme reclaim the title it once held? Read on.

 

Wow! What a Mansion Plantation!

Resident Evil 7 is set in the Baker House. You take on the role of Ethan Winters where, from an email he just received, searches for his missing wife Mia. The clue he got took him to a bayou at Dulvey Louisiana – right in the heart of the Baker residence. Bringing nothing fear and uncertainty, Ethan pushes through the unknown.

 

I won’t spoil much into the story but I have to say this, the game provides a good narrative to how all the lore is eventually connected. But what’s more important here is I like the fact that, whether you are a vet of the franchise or a newcomer, you don’t have to invest on the previous fluff (20 years of gaming backstory to be specific) to appreciate this game. This is a complete experience that provides the players with a strong thematic feel that lasts with you, VR or no VR.

 

Stop It! Don’t Open That Door!

Though the series initially started as a zombie/biological weapon-theme run by an evil mega corporation style of game… As exciting as it was before, it kind of diluted anything horror-related and became somewhat of an action-suspense B-movie type that was more flashy than scary.

Resident Evil 7 this time around made a u-turn with the expected formula and gave us a more personal experience with horror and survival at its forefront, a feature I initially thought was long gone from the series. But like a good shock factor, the game really caught me by surprise with this one.

 

I mean, exploring the Baker home is downright legit scary! Everything from the house to all the little details seen (or unseen), heard and discovered really feels creepy. The game gives a good job in making you feel isolated and helpless with nothing but your inventory and limited field of vision. And if that’s not freighting enough, the scare score amplifies a notch with the VR headset! Trust me; we were having the soul-parting time of our lives when we were doing our “Helpless Gamer” segment (Coming soon!)

 

Okay. Let me handle this.

In terms of combat, I believe this is also one of the strong suits in this game. Fighting in this game feels really satisfying and terrifying – either in giving out damage or being in the receiving end of it! Believe me, we were shouting every time something, well, happens to a specific part of our body in the game.

 

Every weapon has a distinct feel to it – be it in recoil or in weight. You really feel like the only critical factor that separates you and your target is the thing that you hold in your hand. And you’ll learn to appreciate it with every use.

If only the game were as simple as pointing and shooting at who or whatever. Due to the natural design of the interiors of the house, being all cluttered and cramped, there are very tense moments where you need to plan out when to shoot or when to run to a corner or kite, hoping that the next clip might finally do it. There are also some instances where you need to use environmental factors to your advantage, as some enemies have special conditions in defeating them. All in all, there’s a good amount of stress here in dealing with the monstrosities the game dishes out at you. It was satisfying.

 

I’ll try the door on the opposite side.

This is where I think that the game fell a bit low given its fresh new setting. Puzzles for the most part felt really simple (and sometimes repetitive) that it took away all the challenging aspects from the previous games.

There are even moments that before I even took the task, I already knew the answer to it because of a previous exploration. It felt so straightforward that made me think why bother with this at all?

 

Thanks. Maybe I’ll Need it

Perhaps the biggest question one can ask here is that is it worth it in VR? To that I say YES! There is no better feeling than being, cut stabbed or bitten than with the use of the VR headset. Exploration is no exception either; the Baker house is really at its best in this mode, not to mention all the atmospheric details (both in audio and video) one can experience when using this medium.

 

Though it’s the most thematic way to take the game head-on, the feature is far from perfect.  Movement feels slower and the view somewhat vertigo-inducing, even with the aid of the controller, as the view jerks when you adjust your point of view using the right analog stick. But with further familiarity with the schemes, it gets better.

 

Final Verdict

The Good:

  • The theme is STRONG in this game and resonates well both in audio and video
  • Even scarier with the VR headset
  • Satisfying combat

 The Evil:

  • Puzzles feel way to simple
  • A bit on the short side (Nitpicking since we were all expecting this)

If this is the direction of what horror games will be in the next couple of years, count me in! Though the series took a different approach, their gamble really paid off in the end I think. The game feels like I’m welcoming back an old friend.

 

Final Score: 8.5/10