Resident Evil 7 is the fantastic entry in the legendary franchise that’s been around for the past 21 years. To be more specific, Resident Evil 7 is the franchise’s return to its survival horror roots, but rather than sticking to the typical third person view, it’s first person. Though this isn’t the first time this was done in the overall franchise, it is the first and successful attempt with a main franchise entry. Despite being an old school Resident Evil fan, I must say the use of FPV was a brilliant move by the game’s creators due to the fact that it leads to better immersion and an overall heightened sense of fear when playing through the game.
In Resident Evil 7 you mainly play as Ethan Winters, an average joe looking for his missing wife in a derelict Louisiana mansion. In searching for his wife, Ethan stumbles upon a family of murderous psychopaths and other ghastly monstrosities that he never would’ve expected to deal with. In attempting to escape in one piece, he discovers what caused this hellish situation to come about. What’s great about Resident Evil 7 is that it doesn’t shy away from showcasing its gruesomeness, everything is intensely graphic and up close right from the start.
Resident Evil 7 is a highly detailed game, just about everything you see is lifelike, interactive, and in general well done. To be more specific, for a short period of time you are granted the use of an axe and swinging it against certain objects will lead to it being momentarily stuck. Another instance that showcases great attention to detail is during the numerous fierce moments of combat encountered in the game. It’s not surprising at all to shoot at an enemy and see blood/guts fly around, but seeing these fluids/matter splatter onto your weapon/arm and stay there for a brief period of time, that was truly eye opening. Even something as simple as the main character resting his hands on a wall/pillar near him during gameplay reveals the attention to detail found in this game.
It may be a silly thing to bring up, but I also love the fact that despite the FPV you are able to see so much of Ethan. It isn’t always noticeable, but there are moments in the game where you can see Ethan’s feet, legs, and torso. I bring this up because it’s a pet peeve of mine to play an FPS that doesn’t show anything at all as you’re walking or standing, it’s limiting and robs you of total immersion. I’m not totally sure, but if I had to guess as to why this was done, it was for the benefit of PSVR users. Besides that, the extra body parts that are seen can be used to convey body language that isn’t always utilized in an FPV game.
The use of lighting in this game is truly spectacular, it really makes you feel as if you are in the game. There were moments where I’d stop just to look at the shadows that were being produced by the figure of the main character and whatever weapon he was currently holding, it led to many screenshots being taken. Lighting in the game was not only good because of the realistic shadows that were produced, but also because it contributed to the game’s overall eerie atmosphere.
There were many moments in this game where dim or even no lighting was used to manipulate the player’s emotions. As you play through this game you eventually reach a point where you’re ready for anything, especially when walking through a dark area. I found myself in many situations where I’d walk slowly anticipating an enemy to strike, but nothing happened at all. I guess you can say that the fear/expectation of something was just as frightening if not more frightening than the actual enemy encounters. It was when I least expected it that enemies would strike and it was a great way for the creators of this game to keep you in a constant state of discomfort/fear.
Resident Evil 7 didn’t just stick to jump scares to frighten the player, it was done in very calculated ways. For example, it was a normal occurrence in this game to be overwhelmed by enemies and you’d have to run away to be able to safely reload your weapon, but this wasn’t always possible. In one instance I was confidently running towards an open door because I knew I’d encounter no enemies, having already been through there, but as I approached the door an enemy jumped out of nowhere. Despite being initially frightened by the sudden appearance of this enemy, I later realized that this brief interaction was well done.
In its game design Resident Evil 7 has numerous features from the classic Resident Evil games that series veterans will immediately notice. Initially, the areas in Resident Evil 7 feel really distant from one another, but as you advance through the game, shortcuts will reveal just how overlapping these areas are. Another throwback Resident Evil feature is the use of item boxes and having to juggle what you carry or even having to waste bullets just to make space. Despite being an overall hassle, the inclusion of the item box/item juggling is certain to bring back fond memories.
Despite having immensely enjoyed Resident Evil 7, I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect game. I’ve previously mentioned that this game is well done, but that’s not 100% true. It’s nice that there are numerous puzzles in this game, but a few of them are lazily used more than once and they’re generally not that challenging. Resident Evil veterans will easily go through these puzzles, the series has offered more of a challenge in the past. Besides that, there are also moments of stagnation in this game. Though this could also be said of the highly praised Resident Evil 1, the main house feels a bit empty for long stretches of time and during these moments you are mainly hunting for items from room to room. I was eventually bored of this and wanted something to happen.
I really enjoyed the combat in Resident Evil 7 and it offered a great deal of variety with the weapons that were offered. From the game’s beginning you’ll mainly use a handgun plus a knife, but as the game progresses you’ll eventually get to use a magnum, a flamethrower, a shotgun, a grenade launcher, remote bombs, and a machine gun. The weapons variety is a good asset in this game because it offers different playstyles so if for some reason you dislike one weapon, you can always rely on another.
For the most part, the combat/boss battles in Resident Evil 7 are neither easy nor hard, but challenging in an entertaining way. You generally know what to do when it comes to defeating one of the few bosses in this game, but that doesn’t prevent you from dying. You can easily expect to die once or twice per boss battles until you learn their patterns/weaknesses, it’s not that big of a deal. This is mostly attributed to having to be very precise with your aiming in hectic situations. The enemies in Resident Evil 7 were designed in such a way that being shot in specific parts of the body will lead to certain reactions. As a result, you’ll mainly want to dish out as many headshots as possible, but it isn’t always doable. Maybe it’s because I played this game with an Xbox 360 controller, but this was highly noticeable with one of the many handguns used in this game. The recoil was a hassle to deal with at times because after every shot you had to readjust your aim to maximize the damage you dealt.
Though the combat was fun, at times it also got to be a bit repetitive. The main enemies in this game are visually well designed and there are three variants, but at one point it got old fighting the same looking enemies over and over again. At the same time, I feel as if the main humanoid enemy wasn’t too original, I was constantly reminded of previously used enemies from other Resident Evil games. At least with the classic Resident Evil games the zombie models offered a decent amount of variety and there was much more to deal with as you progressed through the game.
Overall, I truly enjoyed Resident 7. The story was good and it goes beyond what it initially appears to be, but towards the end it felt hastily thrown together and a bit disjointed. It was a great entry in a series that has lost its way over the years and I appreciated that. It wasn’t a perfect game, but what it offered was highly entertaining.
Throughout this review I’ve mentioned numerous things I enjoyed/disliked about this game, but I still feel as if I can’t pinpoint why I enjoyed this game so much. I enjoyed it so much that after I finished playing through it, I wanted to go back and replay it, not only because of the fun gameplay, but also because a second playthrough will allow you to better absorb everything that is glossed over at first. All I know is that if this is the future of the Resident Evil franchise, I’m fine with that and eager to play more. I absolutely adore the classic Resident Evil games and look forward to the Resident Evil 2 remake, but what’s important about Resident Evil 7 is that besides being a good Resident Evil game, it’s also a great game. That’s something very important about video games, you shouldn’t expect a video game to do well just by name brand recognition, it first has to be a good game. I give Resident Evil 7 a 4.75/5 and I highly recommend it.