Overall 8.90
The Resident Evil series has gone through some ups and downs but has managed to stay relevant by changing gameplay styles and usually having high quality games. The series has been in a rough patch with the very polarizing RE6 and some bad spinoff online shooters. Enter Resident Evil 7 which scraps the action RE style and returns to the survival horror roots of the old games with a twist; it's in first person, mainly to create the best VR gaming experience. As a big fan of this series the switch to first person was initially hard to get behind but after playing through this game multiple times I can say they made the right choice. RE7 is a huge return to form, a bold modern take on the old formula that manages to actually be scary once again.

The marketing made it seem like RE7 was going to borrow heavily from other popular first person horror games like amnesia and outlast with a powerful unkillable enemy chasing you throughout and the need to hide from your enemies. If that was the game I would have been pissed, thankfully the “being hunted” portion of the gameplay only really occurs in three sections and even then they play by very different rules than most of the hide and seek horror games. There are no instant deaths and your character is far from defenseless. This is 100% Resident Evil, you find weapons, you scavenge for ammo, there is limited inventory and the need to run to save rooms to store stuff in item boxes. If you loved the old formula as much as I did this game will bring back everything you loved about that gameplay.

Much like the old games the environments are locations with many hallways and locked doors which need to be unlocked by finding a key or solving a puzzle. I would say the biggest difference between RE7 and old RE is how these areas are structured; I believe this has to do more with modern game design than any real conscious decision. The old games have larger play areas which makes them more obtuse in how to progress and they generally leave you alone until the big boss battle moments. RE7 is more dense with the detail in its locations, there are more story guided elements that push you along, and it hits a more setpiece to setpiece feel than the old games. It's a more focused game but a less free one, personally I prefer the more free nature of the old games but I know plenty of players who enjoy the more carefully crafted experience.

Each major area in RE7 has a certain theme to it and a sort of boss creature tied to it. The starting Baker house is the standout level of the game and is the closest to replicating the old RE games design. There are more locations that all sit in the Baker plantation, these new locations bring new situations to keep the gameplay as varied as it can be within the confines of this formula. Also the game goes from a more slow paced horror game where exploration is key to a more action oriented game. This happens in most RE games but not to this extent, I felt the final section completely abandoned the old formula and just became a very poor version of RE4/5. If not for this blemish I would say RE7 would rank among the series best.

Where this game totally shines is in that tension and fear of what's around the next corner. There are plenty of monsters called the molded that can kill you in a few hits if you are not careful. With each encounter you need to decide is it worth wasting ammo to kill this thing or can I find a way around. When you are low on health, hoping to find a an herb anywhere and hear one of these things coming it's one of those awesome gameplay moments that made the old games so addicting. The first person viewpoint basically serves the same function as the preset angles of the old games, to hide what's around every corner; this brings back that element of fear of the unknown that worked so well in the past.

The action though isn't the best, to be fair the old games didn't have good combat either. It controls like a first person shooter but it doesn't feel as precise. When you go down sights it takes a second for the aiming cursor to focus on a spot, if you shoot immediately after you aim your shot will be unfocused. So waiting that second is key but by then the enemy will have moved around so it becomes a bit difficult to hit the critical spots. Ethan is also a slow moving character with limited moves so your defense options is either turn and run or use the block button which mitigates a small amount of damage. At the hardest difficulty use of block is a much needed skill as is a good understanding of enemy attacks. It serves the purpose to make the player good enough to defend against the monsters but not as powerful to feel like you are in the action RE games.

I feel the action is at it's best during the boss battles which to me are some of the highlights of the game. The bosses are varied and some even have multiple ways to defeat them. One boss gives you a new weapon only used during that battle, another one has Ethan being stalked across an entire greenhouse, and others are more traditional shoot the weakpoints. Even though these boss battles usually have items around the boss location it still serves as a great check of how well you managed your inventory. The battle can go from a desperate search for health or ammo to a breeze because of how well stocked you are. Either way is rewarding and the bosses are all interesting and fun to fight.

While I feel RE7 nailed the gameplay loop of old RE games and the boss battles,  it dropped the ball with the enemy variety. Resident Evil has some of the best monster designs in gaming, part of the fun of each new game is seeing what kind of disgusting monstrosities the latest virus created. The molded are all black gooey monsters that all look the same and only have four different types. They are also bullet sponges, limbs can be shot off but they take plenty of damage so that instant gratification from a gunshot from RE4 is gone. Again I understand the need for tougher tank like enemies or else it risks turning into an action game again, but there is no reason for having so few enemy types and worse still, types that are so bland.

Another big change for the series is how RE7 is the first RE game since RE2 to have a totally new protagonist. It very loosely follows the overall RE mythology and serves more as a side story that happened in this new world of corporate BOW espionage. If the story was any good this wouldn't be an issue, instead we get a story filled with unlikeable characters and little to no cheesiness which the series is known for. Ethan is a very undeveloped character who seems to be a bit of an ass. The story of the bakers and the infection is told mostly through files and is missing the usual battle against an evil scientist climax. I just found the entire story to be boring, you can call most RE stories many things but boring is not one of them.

Every RE game has bonus modes and unlockables and RE7 is no exception. Clearly many of the modes were either held back or made exclusive for DLC which is a huge shame. Still there is a madhouse mode which serves as a hard mode that remixes enemy placement and items. It's not a crazy second quest where the game plays out differently but it's definitely a far better challenge and feels a lot more like the old games. It's absolutely worth a second playthrough in this mode as it will surprised and tested my skills. There is also the usual rewards for speed runs and no healing item runs. It took me 11 hours my first time playing and I was compelled to finish it two more times so I got plenty of value out of this game.

Graphically the new RE engine is stunning for lighting and detail in the environments. These locations look lifelike at times with great use of darkness and light to create a foreboding atmosphere. I played this on PC and it ran very well at a constant 60fps with a few strange technical hiccups but nothing terrible. I don't like how the RE engine looks with the character models, they are too plastic, the lip syncing and face acting is awful. Musically there are a few nice tunes but it's mostly just background noise, it has none of the really catchy stuff of past RE music.

I don't know what to do with the VR aspect of this game which I currently can't try because I have a Rift and not PSVR. As someone who is experienced with VR gaming I could clearly see which scenes and moments would be perfect with VR. It feels like this game was tailored so much to give the VR owners the best horror experience possible. I feel like if I was able to play this game in VR my thoughts on it would probably far more positive because of how intense and immersive the experience would be. At the same time not playing in VR allows me to just focus on the game design aspects and judge it that way rather than how VR made me feel. I just feel I need to acknowledge that this is probably a very special game when in VR but the majority of people will never play it that way.

Resident Evil 7 is exactly what the series needed after the unfocused bloated RE6. We now have a clear vision of what RE can be this gen, a classic survival horror game with modern design and controls. It has a few issues which keeps it from being an all time classic, if I were to rank this game it would be a middle of the pack RE game. Resident Evil 7 captures the essence of the of old games so well. It feels like the return of an old friend; for that it makes this is one of my favorite games this gen
Posted by Dvader Fri, 03 Feb 2017 18:41:49
Sat, 04 Feb 2017 12:36:13
are there RE easter eggs or fan service?
Sat, 04 Feb 2017 15:11:48
Easter eggs, no fan service
Sun, 05 Feb 2017 13:35:27
It's funny when you think about it....the new Doom and RE7 are both great games because basically they went BACK to the designs that made them great in the first place.
Makes you think maybe gaming hasn't improved so much since the late 90's. The worlds have just gotten bigger and prettier.
Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:21:31
Blows my mind that a new RE game here only gets a couple of replies, one by someone with hardware that will never host it. One by the writer of the review.
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:57:25
There's only a few people that post here and honestly I don't even notice the reviews unless Vader says HEY LOOK I WROTE A REVIEW!
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:32:14
Hey look I wrote a review!
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:22:36
Well I don't have the game yet and I've already expressed how much I'm looking forward to playing it before so I really have nothing new to add.
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 20:00:33
Sat, 25 Feb 2017 13:24:14
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