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LONG BLOG

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PC) Review

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Resident Evil  is a narsty place full of even narstier people.

Resident Evil 7

That’s not a bad thing though. While the Bakers and their home is a steaming pile of literal mutant cow dung, Resident Evil 7 itself is a wonderful twist on an aging series and a return to form of the Resident Evil series. Rejuvenating a game series over 20 years old is no easy feat. Instead of following the same path as the past several titles in the series, which has been a 3rd person shooter since 2005’s Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 7 reinvented it into a disgusting and unsettling first person shooter in backwoods Louisiana. That change has unexpectedly returned this series to its horror roots, and it does so with a very strong showing. 

Despite the filthy home you’re trekking through, and the body horror you’ll come across along the way, this game has a great sense of humor too. This is all balanced in such a way that made a horror un-enthusiast like myself actually have a fun time.

Baker Clan

Premise and Storytelling

In Resident Evil 7, you play as an Average Joe named Ethan Winters, who is looking for his long missing wife, Mia. After years of silence and withering hope, Ethan receives a message from Mia that sends his investigations to a secluded house falling apart in Dulvey, Louisiana. Unfortunately for Ethan (and you), the inhabitants of this house have every intention to do you harm. And harm you, they do!

As you discover the mystery of this home and the family living in it, and what has happened to Mia, you’ll find a plot that is just as wacky as it is spooky. Even though Resident Evil 7 definitely leans heavy handedly into the grime and filth of its environments, it does not take itself so seriously as to let the creepiness factor to override the fun ride that people expect out of Resident Evil stories. As the game progresses, it leans more into the bizarre humor of Ethan’s situation. This helped them create a tastefully spooky and delightfully funny horror game. As opposed to one that filled me with dread - a la 2019’s Resident Evil 2.

On the character front, while Ethan isn’t the most exciting character to ever have his hands grace our screens, his story was fun enough for me to be excited to return to see this character if he returns for Resident Evil 8. The rest of the game’s small cast is a delight. In fact, the humor and personalities of the family in this game really make this game succeed in feeling like a campy murder film straight out of the 70s.

That being said, the pacing of the game’s story has some flaws. The first hour of the game is effectively very tense and slow paced, and the two thirds of the game move along at a really solid pace that did a great job of keeping me engaged. This changed in the third act, which slows everything to a halt. Some people might love the shift in the third act of the game, as it takes a slower pace and returns you to the feeling of hopelessness that the first hour of the game had. From my perspective it put too much of a halt on the fun factor and is where the game began to enter Chore to Play territory.

RE7

Gameplay and Graphics

On the character front, while Ethan isn’t the most exciting character to ever have his hands grace our screens, his story was fun enough for me to be excited to return to see this character if he returns for Resident Evil 8. The rest of the game’s small cast is a delight. In fact, the humor and personalities of the family in this game really make this game succeed in feeling like a campy murder film straight out of the 70s.

That being said, the pacing of the game’s story has some flaws. The first hour of the game is effectively very tense and slow paced, and the two thirds of the game move along at a really solid pace that did a great job of keeping me engaged. This changed in the third act, which slows everything to a halt. Some people might love the shift in the third act of the game, as it takes a slower pace and returns you to the feeling of hopelessness that the first hour of the game had. From my perspective it put too much of a halt on the fun factor and is where the game began to enter Chore to Play territory.

Graphically speaking, Resident Evil 7 is the title where Capcom first revealed their RE Engine, and it’s quite the looker. From the characters to the environment, the visuals are detailed and designed to look subtly realistic. While some of the textures can be a bit smudgy at a closer glance, the majority of the time it succeeds in feeling like you’re stuck in a very real, very gross place. The visuals truly shine in the indoor environments, particularly the Baker’s residence - where you will spend the majority of your time playing this game. The magic is in the details, and you can tell that Capcom put a lot of work in designing the Baker household to feel like the home of a loving family that had something go terribly wrong. There are affectionate pictures all over the place along with other family memorabilia, and it feels very lived in. When you combine this home with the layer of grime, blood and mysterious black goop that Capcom added on top of it all, it creates an unsettling juxtaposition for the player.

I would say it’s even a bit sad to see a family go so far in a sinister direction as the Baker’s, but they’re a bunch of assholes. As are the undead enemies throughout the game. Which makes ruining their day as Ethan is a lovely time. While the human characters in the game have an appropriate amount of detail and are distinguishable from one another, the undead enemies are unfortunately very bland and forgettable. They’re satisfying to kill in a fight, but far from the star of the show.

While this game’s first hour of gameplay is a haunting affair, full of building tension and a sense of you being in over your head, this quickly changes for the majority of the game. After the first hour, the game begins to give you the necessary tools to defend yourself. A knife. Guns. Grenades. A frickin’ flamethrower (eventually). Before I knew it, I was stockpiling ammo and supplies to defend myself, and felt confident about most encounters. While I felt that the game occasionally was too generous with ammo and resources, this ultimately made the game more fun to play for me. While I can appreciate games that focus on the Survival part of Survival Horror, I prefer being given sufficient means to defend myself. This game handled this well, as most of the tension was in the environment as opposed to how well I used my resources. 

Being able to defend yourself in a game wouldn’t be worth talking about if it wasn’t fun to do so - and fortunately, it’s a solidly fun time to rip through the enemies in this game. The gunplay is a little bit clunky, but it’s a good time and is enhanced by the yummy gore that happens when the occasional head blows up. Ethan has quite a bit of weight to him, and feels like someone who has no experience in battling biohazards. The exploration and puzzles in between the fights are fantastic, as the Baker home (and surrounding environments) are a joy to explore and uncover the mysteries of. This is a title where simply unlocking doors and finding new paths in the environment is exciting, and it ultimately leads to you feeling like a master of the enemy’s domain. Backtracking is usually my least favorite aspect of this series, but this game hit a sweet spot for me.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides in the game design, and that comes in the form of the boss fights. While the combat in Resident Evil translates solidly to a first person shooter when it comes to the standard enemies, it’s quite a bit less fun in the bullet sponge boss fights. It isn’t terrible, and they aren’t the most challenging, but they were ultimately my least favorite aspect of the game.

Mia

Sound and Voice

While a memorable musical score can define a game and bolster its atmosphere and tone, it is a different art form entirely to know how to use silence to create tension. While there are tension building musical/sound cues in Resident Evil 7 that can create unease for the player, silence is much more prominent. As you navigate the game, you’ll hear wood creeking, scurrying in the upcoming hallway, or the wind howling through holes in the wall. This created a natural tension in me that was more fitting than musical cues for the grounded-yet-surreal style of horror this game went for.

The gameplay sound design is a bit of a mixed bag. While the enemies each have their own excellent and distinct sound quality, I was less impressed with Ethan’s weapon effects. Particularly for the pistols in the game, which I spent plenty of time with as they were my primary backup weapon when my favorites ran dry. It was more of a peashooter than a handgun. On the more impactful end of the weaponry were the sounds from the shotgun and flamethrower, which had the appropriate amounts of boom and sizzle respectively. While the weapon sound effects weren’t always spot on, I did love the way my weapons interacted with enemies. The enemy noises as they approached, and honestly as they died, are very wonderfully designed. I can firmly say that in some of the larger fights you will have plenty of flesh-popping noises to look forward to.

On the voice front, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality. Ethan’s character work is limited but solid, but Mia is believable and a joy to listen to when she enters the fray. Without spoiling the game, her character is taken to a lot of places and gets into some different...moods…and the voice actor handles did a great job with her delivery. Terrified, terrifying, confident and angry - all of these are reflected wonderfully. The true star of the game is the terrifying Baker Clan, who are all unsettling in very different ways. It’s hard to have a favorite in this case, but I have to hand it to Jack. He is a more classic horror movie madman, who always seems like he’s overly excited to have the opportunity to hunt someone down for trespassing in his home.

Rating - 8.5/10 - Buy It

Resident Evil 7 is worth buying if you’re at all a fan of the series or the survival horror genre as a whole. While imperfect, this game feels like a fresh and focused take on the Resident Evil formula, and actually managed to excite me for the next mainline game in the series. Most importantly, especially for people who don’t like most horror games, Resident Evil 7 is simply a fun game to experience. Given that this game is a few years old now, it can easily be gotten for $20 or less on sale, and also has some pretty fun DLC to go along with it.

- Always be PLUS ULTRA


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About HyperbolebyDefaultone of us since 7:38 PM on 06.11.2019