After years of foraying into the action genre, Resident Evil returns to its horror roots in this fantastic entry into the long lasting video game series.
Written by James Orrell
Resident Evil is a series that I held dear in my horror loving heart for many, many years. I still can recall the map of the Spencer Mansion in the first game twenty years after it's release. I have played through both the "A" and "B" playthroughs of Resident Evil 2 as both Leon and Claire enough times to see every permutation you can in the game. To say this was my favorite series of video games for many years is an understatement to say the least.
And then those fucking movies happened.
The movies transformed the series from genuine frightfests to lackluster action fluff just so the director could show off his wife. Sadly, the games followed suit because of the success the films saw in the box office, turning them into a shell of what they once were(admittedly, I love RE 4. After that it really began to suck).
I was wary going into Resident Evil 7. While the developers promised a return to horror, I remained skeptical. The past few games were a far cry from what I loved about the series so I admit that played a heavy part in my hesitation. The switch to a first person perspective really didn't sell anything to me. I knew next to nothing about the characters in this game as they don't tie to anyone I've come to know in the series. All I knew was that the location was set in the Louisiana swamps.
That wariness and the little knowledge that I had on the story of the game helped me come to realize just how great this game truly is.
Resident Evil 7 brings the horror back to the series in a big way. The game takes inspiration from such classic horror series as The Evil Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even Saw. It's a visceral experience that I really wasn't expecting. It gives the game a truly terrifying feel knowing that you don't have any idea what to expect next.
The villains are particularly effective. The Baker family takes center stage in this regard. Every encounter with a member of this clan is a truly memorable horror experience. While most of the time you are required to simply run and hide from them, occasionally you are put into a terrifying boss fight that will make you think and use your environment to your advantage in surprisingly clever ways.
The Molded, the new creatures you face throughout the game, are fantastic additions. They can come in a variety of forms, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and can strike from practically anywhere. Even if you had previously cleared an area, there is always a chance that more Molded can show up, making every step a nerve-racking experience.
The first person view really helps immerse you into the experience. I wasn't sure it would add to the experience before playing the game but I so happy to say it is the best change to Resident Evil the series has seen in many years. The graphics are what I like to call gorgeously grotesque. The amount of detail is beautiful and makes the Manor really feel like a character itself. And everything inside the Manor is absolutely disgusting.
The sound design is incredible. Every creak, every footstep, every distant voice brings a sense of dread to the game that makes it all the better. The voice acting is impressive and perhaps the best the series has had to date. No longer is it overly campy, it gives the characters a far more fleshed out feel than in previous games.
Puzzles return to the series for the first time in quite awhile. Once one of the stalwart staples of the franchise, they fell out of favor as the games got more action focused. Here, they are both welcomed back but also some of the more clever puzzles in the entire series. If you ever feel stuck, there is likely a puzzle you may have overlooked.
Combat is satisfying without being overly aggressive. Unlike first person shooters such as Halo or Call of Duty, the combat actually feels like there's a real weight to it. You rarely feel like you have enough ammunition, so running away and saving what precious few bullets you have is a returning strategy. Bringing back a much more limited amount of inventory space, you must pick and choose between what weapons, ammo, healing items and key items you need to carry at any given time.
It's been years since I truly enjoyed Resident Evil. The games became a lackluster shell of what they used to be. Resident Evil 7 is a fantastic horror experience that returns the game to it's roots. Amazing environments, terrifying enemies and a true sense of dread make this game one of the best horror games available right now. If you dig horror and have an Xbox One, PS4 or a PC capable of playing it, then I couldn't recommend it any higher. It's Resident Evil done right.