Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is one of those titles that I have taken a long time to get around to playing. Having started the series back with Resident Evil 2 on the original PlayStation when Louis lent it to me, I’ve basically been playing the series since. Having recently been replaying Resident Evil 6 in preparation for the seventh entry (yes I needed that much lead time for a horror experience), no amount of action, running and gunning could prepare me for a return to a slower and much scarier time.
While graphically superior to the rest of the series up until this point, Resident Evil 7 is a throwback to the older days of jump scares and atmospheric horror. Letting go of a lot that has already passed at this point, this latest entry starred a brand new protagonist looking for his wife that went missing years prior. So after receiving an email from his wife Mia, Ethan sets out to Louisiana to find her and the place she wrote to him.
Now, as a general rule, I don’t do actual horror as it’s not something I generally handle well or without a nightlight or ten. Thinking that the remake of Resident Evil 2 was scary in the beginning just didn’t cut for how terrifying the series gets when thrown into a first person view. Set deep in some remote area of Louisiana’s Bayou, even with the sun out most of your time will be in the shadows or the full on dark with the trees overhead and the thick mansion walls separating you from the outside.
What I appreciated with the setup and the layouts of this mansion and the surrounding property is that it was a throwback to the older titles which starred mansions and cryptic puzzle solving police stations. You’re not sprinting around, you’re cautiously looking out for what could be around the next corner. You’re opening and closing doors as decoys or protective barriers to buy you a few seconds to get away. There’s plenty of places to hide, that is, until there isn’t as the environment itself was insane to go through at times. What was once safe becomes a trap with enemies being able to crash right through walls you didn’t even know were breakable.
It was scary but it also added to the experience as nothing was ever safe and like the Mr. X and Nemesis before them, the family that owns this place and holds both you and Mia hostage are infected and until their own real boss fights? In. Vin. Ci. Ble. This aspect only helped to drive the horror as while they could potentially be put down with a few clips from your pistol or shotgun, it’s temporary. You need to figure out the way around them all while avoiding and taking out these mold like creatures that spawn in several different forms to make your life that much harder.
With the way that the stage is set up with the property that Ethan finds himself on and the infected family that owns it, I found it a bit sad that with all of their personality, Ethan barely has any. At first while playing through the base story I thought that this could have been a side effect of the switch from a third to first person approach. You no longer see your protagonist go through the horror from a slightly detached perspective, instead you get to see it up front and personal and you essentially become Ethan. This was the case of course until loading up the post DLC addition of “Not a Hero” featuring series veteran Chris Redfield who has all of the personality that he’s always had. So maybe, just maybe this is a case of a brand new face into a long existing series with plenty of forces of personality to fall back on.
If I had perhaps one real complaint about RE7, it would be that it goes on much longer than it should have. The first two thirds of the adventure take place within the mansion grounds as Ethan is searching for both Mia and a way out for the two of them. From there though, things switch narrative points of views twice and just keep on going and going much longer than it ever should have and honestly? I didn’t find that the last two chapters did much to help the story. While they added background to everything, those two chapters could have been a) covered in a cutscene entry and b) cut out entirely. Otherwise, I jumped plenty of times as while yes they are jump scares, some of them are impossible to see coming as in the realm of reality, it should not have been possible so congrats on that one Capcom.
Now, perhaps the major question that you may have on this review is “why now?”. RE7 has been out for years and RE8, Resident Evil Village just dropped last week. Well the reason is simple, how could one review the latest in the series objectively without having played it’s predecessor especially when it’s a new protagonist at the helm? So settling in for a weekend of horror, I came away pleasantly surprised and made sure that this was written before loading Village.
So with that said, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was fairly well done. Having previously picked up the Gold version and also having it on PS+, there’s no reason that it should have taken this long to go through it but the throwbacks to a scarier time was worth the experience.Score: 8 / 10