Also On: Xbox One, PC
Here we are at the start of 2017 and we have a brand new Resident Evil game, that?s nothing like any of the games in the franchise prior. Not only is the game nothing like anything that came in the franchise before it, but it was also announced only 6 months prior to its release. No this isn?t an episode of the Twilight Zone, this is real life and Capcom finally seems to have their finger on the pulse of what fans want from some (definitely not all) of their franchises. I want to make it perfectly clear right upfront with this review, I will do my best to not spoil any aspects of the story. Resident Evil 7 is a game best enjoyed with little to no knowledge of the story or what happens in the game.
For my own experience, I did check out the Resident Evil 7 demo that came out immediately after it was revealed at e3 2016, and I also watched our own Benny Rose check out a small bite of the game in VR at NYCC. Outside of those two gameplay experiences, I stayed away from any online trailers, reviews, or further demo updates. I wanted to experience this game without having anything spoiled and that?s why I recommend you do the same.
For those that have been living locked in a mansion for the past 6 months, Resident Evil 7 reinvents the series and takes you into a first-person perspective. Now, did you notice I shied away from calling it a first-person shooter? Seeing where Capcom brought the franchise with RE5 and 6, it wouldn?t have been too surprising for them to make it a FPS and further kill the franchise. Instead they took the franchise first-person, brought it back to its survival horror roots and totally redeemed themselves. I?ll make this real simple, before I dive into anything about the game, Resident Evil 7 is fantastic. I was worried with the quick turn around from showing it at e3, to releasing it just 6 months later (I really thought we were going to have delay), and I can safely say all my worries were put to rest within the first hour.
Within that first hour of gameplay I experienced: tension, anxiety, what the f**k moments, and pure joy. This all made for a great start to Resident Evil 7 and it continued throughout. Homage?s to the previous games, returning items and other subtle nuances just add to what already is an amazing experience. This game could have even stood on its own without being a Resident Evil game, that?s how good it is. I feel like I haven’t been this smitten with a video game in a long time. I?ve loved other games but it just feels different.
Upon booting up RE7 you can immediately tell this isn?t the Resident Evil you were probably expecting, and that?s a good thing. The graphics style is ultra realistic and looks beautiful. The detail of the outdoor environments, multiple house, etc., is all top notch and helps you feel like you’re truly part of this world, fighting to stay alive. I?m not going to touch on the story at all. If you want to spoil the story prior to playing there?s plenty of videos available online, and I refuse to spoil this experience for any readers. Without spoiling anything I would like to mention a feature that I really appreciated. At certain points in the game you will find VHS tapes (sad that some readers might not have even ever used one before). Upon playing these VHS tapes in a VCR, it will put you in a situation from the past. Playing through these moments help guide the story and also introduces a unique element where if you find particular items while playing through the tapes, they will appear in the present time.
Another missing element from the Resident Evil franchise as of late has been puzzles, which are also returning in a big way. This review really just writes itself. Capcom saw all of the things the fanboys wanted from a new Resident Evil franchise and what they did wrong with the past few entries and fixed it. Usually that would seem easier said than done, but I don?t know, Capcom just pulled it off. Puzzles that are just the right difficulty, ammo that isn?t abundant but isn?t scarce enough to ruin the experience, those what the f**k moments I was speaking on early, and a captivating story that plays out incredibly. Oh, and the inventory system isn?t a chore either! You don?t have a ton of inventory spots, but it also doesn?t feel like frustrating work to manage the inventory like previous entries.
I really don?t have any gripes with Resident Evil 7. The story hooked me, it?s beautiful to look at, and the gameplay is new and refreshing with sprinkles of homage to franchise signatures? whats not to like? I will say the boss battles aren?t push overs, but that should be expected with Resident Evil games (for reference, I played the game on normal difficulty). As some others have also mentioned, there isn’t a great variety in enemy types, but I’m ok with that, you’re supposed to be isolated on a plantation. Repetition was not a feeling I felt during my play through. You’re looking at around 10 hours of story (without rushing through for the “beat the game in 4 hours” trophy) which felt like a perfect length. The season pass will also offer more story content which has yet to be revealed; along with some more snippets of gameplay told through lost footage (I’m assuming more VHS tapes).
I don’t like using the term, “Game of the Year Candidate” but it couldn’t help but pop into my head before I started writing this review. I know we are only in the start of February, but I feel like even as we approach the holiday season of 2017, everyone will still be talking about Resident Evil 7 (as well as Nintendo Switch holiday bundles, but I digress). If you’re a fan of the classic entries in the franchise, you’ll love the return to survival horror with a new first-person perspective (which is clearly inspired by P.T.). If you’ve never played Resident Evil games before and you’re a fan of the horror genre, go out and buy RE7 immediately. Either way you’re a winner; I really can’t recommend it any more highly. Grab a Jill sandwich, some green herbs, and show off your master unlocking skills? the survival horror king is back.