For those of you who are unaware, I love horror games. Not only is being scared a very cool feeling, but there’s a lot that goes into making a horror game really effective. The Resident Evil series used to be the pinnacle of horror, until the games started to become less about thrills and more about explosions. All seemed lost, until Resident Evil 7’s demo was released. The demo frightened many people, but some criticised it for leeching off the success of P.T. Now I am glad to say that Resident Evil 7 successfully manages to go back to its horror roots and delivers an incredibly terrifying and fun experience.
In the game you play as Ethan, a widower who receives an email from his allegedly dead wife, saying that she is in fact alive and waiting for him at the Baker estate. Ethan travels there, only to find something sinister is lying in wait. It’s a fairly simple premise, and I don’t want to spoil what happens in the game, but the story progression is absolutely incredible and takes you through many different scenarios in the Baker estate.
The gameplay is a lot different from the previous Resident Evil installments, as the camera is now in first-person. While moving and shooting is a lot different, old-school Resident Evil fans will feel right at home, as the game feels a lot like the first game. You need to scavenge for keys and clues to unlock doors, sometimes encountering the Molded, and sometimes encountering the Bakers themselves. Travelling throughout the estate is incredibly tense, as you are constantly on the lookout for the Bakers and the Molded, desperately scavenging through drawers and cupboards, hoping to find just a little bit more ammunition. The game also manages to escalate really nicely into new areas. As new locations open up, more and more tools are added to your arsenal, as well as greater threats. The game successfully pays homage to all the great Resident Evil games, while still maintaining the scares.
Resident Evil 7 doesn’t take the easy way out. Many horror games opt out of having interesting looking environments by making the game very dark, creating a kind of artificial environment. There’s actually a lot of light in Resident Evil 7, you are walking around a regular house after all. Many of the areas look really run down and dirty, adding to the fact that the area seems to be detached from civilization. The one complaint I have about the environment is that many areas have this black goo that the Molded are made out of, and it looks very cliche and kind of took me out of the game.
Unfortunately, Resident Evil 7 is quite short. On my first playthrough I beat it in around 7 hours, which is a little bit of a let-down. I would have really liked the last act of the game to have gone on for quite a bit longer just so I could test out my new equipment a little more. Like all Resident Evil games, there’s quite a bit to do after you beat the game. Once you beat the game once, Madhouse difficulty unlocks, which not only increases the scarcity of items and the strength of enemies, it also limits the number of saves you can do, similar to how it was done in the first Resident Evil. There’s also a number of items and weapons you can unlock by completing certain challenges, such as beating the game in under 4 hours. Even though the game is short, you can easily waste a lot of time with continuous playthroughs.
Resident Evil 7 is the jump start survival horror needed. The genre has been plagued by awful games and bad cliches, but Resident Evil 7 is a much welcome change of pace and hopefully it is a trend that continues.