Let me just brush the dust off here… And there… Oh. Yes. I’m back. Maybe. Probably. Who knows? Where have I been? Reality. That cold horrible real world that takes up your entire soul.
But enough about the boring stuff. A game came out. I played it. I have opinions on it. You may remember a while ago I posted my thoughts on the Resident Evil 7 Demo; well the full game was released and I completed it (about a month ago but that’s not important). I also played some of it in virtual reality! Why did I not play the whole thing in VR? I unfortunately suffer severely with migraines and they kicked up a storm after a few sessions in the headset and I played this game mostly while I had a severe bout of flu. Like I said: boring, unnecessary details.
You know how this works:
Title: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Genre: First-person, Survival Horror
Release Date: January 24th, 2017
Before we continue, I’m going to point out that I am yet to play any of the DLCs.
In Resident Evil 7, you take the role of Ethan Winters who has received an e-mail from his believed to-be-dead wife, Mia, 3 years after she disappeared whilst on a “babysitting” job. Ethan follows the e-mail to a supposedly abandoned mansion known as the Dulvey Plantation and encounters more than he bargained for when he discovers the Baker family and their secrets still living within the derelict walls.
Has Resident Evil really redeemed itself?
This latest instalment to the series has a very different air about it than the previous
(atrocious) Resident Evil 6. We are taken back to the horror roots of Resident Evil 1 and for the first time ever playing in first person. Despite having weapons, including a grenade launcher at one point, the fear factor never lets up. Every corner you turn, every hallway you walk down, every room you enter is terrifying even with magnum in hand.
Graphics are a hit and miss. If it’s something that’s truly important to you, play the PC version. Areas are gorgeous, horrifying and unique yet familiar. All the tiny details from scratches in the walls to the small interactive objects you collect around the house immerse you further into the terrible tale. You’d possibly expect that in VR it would engross you even more? Not quite. There was an incident at the start of the game when I was walking through the woods where I encountered an extremely 2D tree. The visuals within the headset are significantly scaled back to the point that reading the text was hard for me (maybe that’s a personal experience). Although the game has a few rendering and texture issues overall it’s beautiful to look at but the VR experience lacks the same depth. In the guest house I was able to peer around corners but rather than seeing a complete hallway some sections were lost to a large white space where the game had not loaded the next section.
The enemies are truly horrific. I won’t lie: the molded were the scariest for me. Possibly due to an inner fear of mould I hadn’t yet discovered but there was something about the way they walked and their squeals that made them harder for me to conquer than the human enemies of the game. Their Resident Evil 2 Licker-style counterparts silently crawling up behind you made walking around the ship particularly difficult for me; even though I knew I was safe after closing the doors, hearing them and seeing them scurrying around outside was enough for me to “NOPE” my way out of there.
Gameplay is smooth and simple: aim and shoot. The inventory was similar to older titles in the series meaning you had to manage what you brought with you but felt slightly clunky in terms of actually grabbing what you need; whether that is down to sheer panic or a fault of the game, I’m not sure but I found I would accidentally select the wrong key multiple times throughout the game (even when I wasn’t being chased). VR gameplay is slightly clunkier as rather than aiming with the analogue sticks you aim with your head and I had more than one moment where my crosshairs would refuse to zoom in on enemies which then caused a lot of wasted ammo.
Where did it go wrong?
Unfortunately for me where Resident Evil 7 lets itself down is actually its narrative. Bare with me on this because I did genuinely enjoy the story. Maybe it is due to being a massive Resident Evil fan, maybe it’s just the amount of collectables I picked up or maybe it is the horror genre in general but I guessed the main “plot twists” (if you can call them that?) at the very beginning of the game even so far as to add more depth to characters who the developers had made fairly 2D (cough – Zoe – cough). The reveals weren’t surprising to me. You can tell that the narrative is the main focus of the gameplay towards the latter parts of the game because where we once had doors that would shake but were inaccessible or our character’s would at least push against them, we just had a painting on the wall that looked like a door but couldn’t be interacted with.
The final build up of the game led to nothing. The final boss felt more like a reaction-command sequence than the run and tactically shoot/hit the previous boss battles had given us. It reminded me of Final Fantasy X‘s flea of a final boss; you just cast zombie and heal it twice and it’s over, (if you haven’t played Final Fantasy X, here‘s the fight). And the final “reveal” of a “familiar face” annoyed me to no end. It made Ethan’s endeavour feel irrelevant, everything he had endured could have been avoided if he’d waited 24 more hours because don’t worry, our big Resident Evil hero is back and to save the day. Your choice you make before the final sections also feels like less of a choice and more a question of “how much do you love your wife?” as even though the game doesn’t call the ending a “Bad End” it certainly makes you feel like it is with Ethan’s sudden depressing outlook on life after the night’s events.
Overall, Resident Evil 7 is a brilliant new entry to the series with a fantastic soundtrack, throwbacks to the much-beloved origins of the series (I saw you shotgun puzzle) and will hopefully keep the focus on the horror elements that the die-hard fans crave. I hope that the DLCs have added to the narrative rather than taken away and give more depth to the Baker family and their story as it would help us understand this new not-virus-bioweapon-thing even more.