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Resident Evil 7 Review: Redefining the Roots
For a long time, Resident Evil hasn’t been what it once was. It ditched its survival horror roots to become more action oriented but failed. After so much criticism and commercial failure, Capcom finally came to senses and went back to where it all began.
But in doing so, Capcom has managed to redefine the roots of Resident Evil. Mixing new formulas with the old and delivering the perfect blend with Resident Evil 7.
Resident Evil 7 Review
Resident Evil 7 is for everyone, all survival horror fans will like what Capcom has produced for us this time. Resident Evil 7 is connected with the previous game via minor details here and there but most of the time it feels like a standalone game, which makes it fresh and exciting.
You are put in the shoes of not Leon, Chris or any other lead hero from the past, but you find yourself playing as Ethan.
Ethan is an average joe who lost his wife three years ago. After she went missing, Ethen never fully moved on and just when he was on the verge of losing hope, he gets a video message from his wife telling him that she is alive but asks him to “stay away.”
Well, if she wanted him to stay away she shouldn’t have sent the message, should she? Naturally, Ethan goes to the upload origin of the video and you find yourself investigating “the Louisiana Ghost House,” a name given by “Sewer Gators” to the mansion you explore.
The lack of traditional zombies will bother the Resident Evil veteran inside you but The Baker Family makes up for it. They are a certifiably insane group of people with extraordinary abilities and a tendency to stay alive. At one point, you will find yourself tied to a chair and Mr.Baker shoving disgusting food down your throat. The entire game has a very “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” feel to it.
A person kidnaped by an insane group of people is a plot that is rooted back to the 70’s. To this day, such a concept grabs your attention if implementation and direction are correct, and that is what impresses you the most while playing Resident Evil 7.
Capcom brilliantly marketed this game by only sharing one small piece which isn’t even a part of the main game. We never knew if it is connected with the main series in any way and that itch to find out keeps you going, it keeps you interested throughout. It makes each twist and turns exciting and fulfilling.
Oddly, we can’t recall a video game featuring such as plot but now that one has, we can see others following in the footsteps of Resident Evil 7.
In the first hour or so, you are defenseless and most of your time is spent hiding in the shadows. You eventually gain access to different types of weapons, most of them melee. Jack is the leader of the group and after you escape his clutches, he keeps hunting you down. Admittedly, encounters with Jack are overdone and after the first few him suddenly popping out of nowhere doesn’t surprise or scare.
During the middle and later part of the game you become more well-equipped. You’ll have access to a shotgun and even a flamethrower at one point. While that is good news, it also means that enemies will become tougher. You will come across slimy humanoids called the Molded as well as the wife, Marguerite.
She isn’t a brute like Jack but she can summon a swarm of insects to follow the player. Resident Evil 7 uses such methods to perfection to scare the players and twist the narrative. Throughout the game, you will find yourself jumping on your seat, cursing, feeling surprised how well RE7 manages to scare you.
The Sound design of RE7 contributes to the cause, the calm before the storm, the anticipation it builds and the release is unbelievably satisfying. Although it will scare your pants off. You won’t hear much music in RE7, the game sacrifices music for natural sounds and the decision worked perfectly.
Howls of the wind, creeks of the floor, birds chirping in the distance, are a constant source of tension for the player.
First person camera view is the biggest change to the series and well, it works for Resident Evil 7. Long time players will need a bit of getting used to but once you do, you start to understand why Capcom went the first person route. Limited perspective and slow steady movements add to the immersion of the game.
Controls are fairly simple but effective, weapons are finally improved with added power. In some of the previous Resident Evil games, weapons often felt underpowered and enemies didn’t care much when you were blasting an entire clip. However, while there are some bullet sponges in RE7, weapons never feel underpowered.
You can feel the impact a bullet had on the enemy even if the bullet doesn’t kill it. Once again, the credit goes to the excellent sound design of the game that makes each weapon feel different and powerful.
It is to be noted that weapons, although powerful, will never measure up to the difficulty level of Resident Evil 7 but that is how a survival horror game works. You will always be the helpless underdog who needs to survive by any means. And means are hard to come by in RE7, bullets are far and in between and often you will have to make a choice, either shoot or run and hide to save bullets for later.
Of course, there are situations where running is not an option.
Resident Evil 7’s combat is clearly the high point of the series. There is a delicate but perfect balance between melee and gunplay while keeping the survival horror element in the forefront.
The classic inventory system is back, you will have to store items in limited space. Eventually, you will come across an area where you can purchase upgrades as well all create ammo for your weapons. Creation requires the gathering of items that are spread across the map, some are right in front of you while others are hard to come by and could be guarded by the Molded.
The items you gather can be stored inside a universal space that is available near the tape recorders. You can store items that are taking up space in your inventory and retrieve them later. The pacing in which you find items is just right. Just when you start to feel that things couldn’t be more over your head, you find new items to help your cause.
Such limitations and pacing were sorely missed in Resident Evil games.
The lighting and overall atmosphere are beautifully handled. Graphics are the best this franchise has seen so far but occasional frame rate drops and minor anti-aliasing issues still affect the game. Character models for the Molded have a classic Resident Evil feel to them so we have mix of both new and classic.
The element of horror and richness of character personality is elevated by exceptional voice acting that brings every member of The Baker Family to life.
For $60, Resident Evil 7 not only provides a great first-time experience but its replayability makes it a worthy purchase. There are multiple ways to complete the game, multiple endings, and higher difficulty levels that will keep you busy with the game for a long time.
Resident Evil 7 has redefined survival horror for the franchise.