I will admit that I “lost faith”. It wasn’t the first time, either. After every Resident Evil, I swore I would never buy a new one – since 5. Capcom said multiple times “We’re going back to Resident Evil’s roots”, and it always turned out to be bullshit. Last time they said that was RE6. Do I need to reiterate how that ended? A colossal pile of dog feces on which someone graffiti’d an RE2 logo, which quickly fell apart on closer examination.
Capcom told us basically nothing about this game, pre-release. They said “It’s gonna be in the South on a plantation house!” They showed screenshots. The screenshots looked interesting and I think a lot of people were confused by the first person perspective, thinking that this was some mode exclusive to PS4 because only the PS4 version (so far) had VR support. Nope, that was the actual game, all first person. It was an interesting switch, too. Honestly I don’t know that it was necessary, but the reason they did it was pretty obvious – jump scares and claustrophobia.
Resident Evil 7 is a return to form. I wouldn’t say I love the game, but Resident Evil 7 is fundamentally Resident Evil. There’s no question about that. It exudes all of the core gameplay mechanics and themes that defined the first game, and which continued to define the franchise until PlayStation 2 and GameCube. In the category of “Finally figuring it out”, I give Capcom a gold star on this one. RE7 felt more like RE1 / 2/ 3 than any game since and including 4. I’d even say it was better than Code Veronica – I really didn’t care for Code Veronica. While on the surface this game may resemble modern first person horror titles like Soma, Outlast, or Alien Isolation – games which literally wouldn’t exist without Resident Evil 1 – it finds its own place and does so beautifully. Don’t forget those titles took their game mechanics from RE1 (among other games), which took its game mechanics from older games like Sweet Home, Alone in the Dark, and Castlevania.
RE7 plays exactly like a classic RE title. Restricted camera angle, which is now first person rather than fixed third person. Puzzles. A game world that progressively gets bigger as you solve puzzles, progress in the story through scripted events, or use items to unlock access to more areas. Weapons with very limited ammo supply which aren’t very effective against your enemies. Creepy, claustrophobic environments with little room to manuever. “Zombies”, bioweapons. Psychopaths. Limited inventory space that can and wll bite you in the ass if not managed correctly. Mysterious item boxes connected by sub-space link to the same other-reality storage space. Ammo crafting? Okay, that one’s from RE3, but it was a good mechanic and at least it made slightly more sense – maybe – than finding a whole bunch of 75% empty 9mm boxes (those things usually hold 50 or 60 bullets) scattered about. Creepy music? Cheesy dialog? Wonky movement or character control? Bioweapons? Check.
RE7 takes a break from the extremely tired old Leon / Ada / Chris rehashes, and puts you in the middle of nowhere playing a nobody who receives a mysterious message from his wife, who was presumed dead, asking him to come get her. You drive across Texas over to Louisana, call your friend and share some small talk about “Omgwtf is this real?” and then you’re off onto private property in the backwater of the Louisana bayou. Somewhere no one with common sense would ever go, without guns, at least not alone. I legitimately felt uneasy proceeding anywhere past the spot you park your car at, in the beginning – much less further. Although, I have this problem where I have common sense – so Texas Chainsaw type movies and the like really don’t resonate with me. I know better than to sneak into some rednecks house in bayou town. And almost immediately you get the first glimpse of one of the creepiest villains in the game. It only gets better from there, with slamming doors, shit moving around seemingly on its own, and then the chainsaw murdering comes out.
Then you start losing appendages and shit gets real, but totally hilarious and ridiculous too. That’s when you realize – yep, this is definitely Resident Evil.
The Baker compound does a great job through lighting, sound design, as well as aesthetics and overall architectural layout at creating an uncomfortable and creepy, yet familiar environment. You feel from the beginning that going into this place is a terrible idea yet you do it anyway because, well, how else would you get to experience the game? The place is as large as any Resident Evil lab or mansion, if not bigger. Unlike previous third person games where you only ever get to see parts of the buildings from certain angles, this game being first person allows you to get some real perspective on how big this place is, and it’s pretty ridiculously big. A lot of the hallways and rooms also harken back to the Spencer mansion as well, just with the floorplans and how the saverooms are located. Yes – we see return of serene, safe rooms where you can save and deposit items in the magic subspace item boxes. are even plenty of total callbacks to previous games, and references like the painting of the Arklay Mountains. The shotgun puzzle comes to mind.
While the game may eventually seem like it has a lot of rinse and repeat enemies with little variety, this is no different from the originals, and is really the only valid criticism. Don’t forget though that RE1 and RE2 only had 8 enemy types. RE7 has 4, plus “humans”. Adding too many enemies is where Resident Evil became ridiculous, starting with RE3 which had 10. Code Veronica had 15. RE4 had 27. In this game’s case, less is more. You encounter the same enemy types often enough to become familiar with them. It isn’t like RE3, for example, where you dealth with maybe 3 Drain Deimos/Brain Suckers and then never saw one again, or 5 Cerberi and never saw any again for the rest of the game.
Resident Evil is isolated enough from the rest of the storied franchise, much of which doesn’t make sense or has jumped the shark, that it can attract new fans while still pleasing die hards. However, that isolation makes the story at bit hard to wrap your head around at the end of the game when this piece doesn’t seem to fit into the overall puzzle. After all, there are multiple references to the events of previous games, or characters from them, but all of those references are intentionally vague enough that this could be a completely new timeline. Also, there’s that whole ending where you know who allegedly shows up. I refer of course to you know who. But I am willing to give Capcom enough rope to hang themselves with, once again.
Even though the first playthrough will take you closer to 12 hours, and there are more playthroughs. An extra chunk of money for the season pass, if you don’t wait for a GOTY gold edition, will get you all premium DLC thus far – Banned footage volume 1 and 2, and end of Zoe, which will add maybe 20 hours to the game. The season pass introduces familiar gametypes like Jack’s Birthday, which is basically this titles equivalent of Mercenaries mode, and other challenge modes.
Additionally, without the season pass you get the 9 months late free DLC Not a Hero which was presumably going to answer some questions about the ending, but ultimately raised more. It’s more of a traditional episode that plays similar to the game itself, following Castelroid type gear acquisition to allow you access to areas that progress the plot, until you fight the villain at the end. It’s a disappointment after being delayed for almost an entire year, but it’s still entertaining.
There was, and still is , some extremely obscure bug with Nvidia cards where the Steam overlay literally will not work with the game. Multiple people reported it, I reported it and talked to Nvidia and got nowhere. This prevents all Steam functions from working – screenshots, streaming, Steam overlay, web browser, guides, achievements, literally everything. The only reason I even fixed the problem on my machine was on accident – I had to reinstall Windows as part of a video I created.
Capcom has done nothing so far about that issue, and was slow to fix any other issues. When they were actively patching the game, they were fixing exactly 1 – 2 bugs per patch. They also dragged their feet when it came to old AMD Phenom processors (circa 2009). Capcom added support in the RE7 demo for outdated AMD Phenom processors , and the demo worked fine. When the game came out, these users had crashes within the first 20 minutes – all at the same spots. Capcom then had a PR guy come out and say “Your processor does not meet requirements and putting in this support in the demo was a mistake.” Then they had to backpedal and fix that. I thought it was hilarious.
I highly recommend this game if you are truly a fan of RE0, 1, 2, 3 and Code Veronica – or even Outbreak. It’s literally the same game, but in first person view.