New to Out of Lives as a guest author is Ross Falconer, Dropping by to give us his opinion on Capcom’s return to the Resident Evil Franchise…
When the first pieces of promotional material for Resident Evil 7 were drip fed to us, the reaction was a mixed bag of nuts. For some people the new perspective was an issue of contention, maintaining that true Resi was a third person affair and should remain so, that it was just cashing in on recent popular horror games such as Outlast, the Silent Hill teaser demo PT and the like. For others yet it was, at the very least, a source of intrigue and at best a celebrated return to actual horror, a breath of new life into a series that for many will say, had become stale.
You could be forgiven for thinking in the early stages of Resi 7’s marketing that it had indeed decided to jump on the first person survival horror hide ‘em up bandwagon, as much of the early trailers and videos did show a lot of sneaking and hiding that was so familiar with the aforementioned games and seemed to show little in common with games of the series’ roots. But after having played through the game twice now (And with a few more playthroughs planned yet) I am incredibly glad to say, this is not the case. This is Classic Resident Evil, just with a new perspective.
Resident Evil 7 shares a lot of the familiar tropes with earlier games of the series, mainly the original. There’s a spooky mansion, there are weird specific keys to open weirder specific doors, there are bizarre architecturally questionable mechanisms, traps, and secret passageways, it has files to read, safe rooms with item boxes, manual saves on a tape recorder (as opposed to the typewriter and on madhouse difficulty you even need cassette tapes to be able to save), the colour coded heart monitor, puzzles and of course there are monsters, not quite zombies but they do amble after you rather slowly (depending on what difficulty you are on, they are a fair bit faster on madhouse) as well as some that almost resemble Lickers, It even has giant eyeballs, would it be classic Resi without giant eyeballs? No, the answer to that is no.
Contrary to the earlier promotional material, it isn’t all running and hiding, I mean it wouldn’t be true Resi if it was right? No there are definitely weapons to fight back and a fair few of them too. Nothing really above and beyond what you got in the original game either so don’t worry if you think the return to horror is just a gimmick and it’s gonna revert back to action like Resi 4 onwards. Sure there are some scenes that are more action orientated than others and if you play smart and/or have good aim you can even hoard some of the sparsely dotted about supplies for tougher encounters.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few concessions towards more recent popular horror games, there are. For the first couple hours it plays more like games such as Outlast and its ilk, with the occasional jump scare and you being trapped in a house with a crazy family akin to the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and having to do lots of skulking and hiding from people that you have little to no hope of fighting back with, but it’s not long before you get your hands on a weapon and begin to take your power back.
Going back to the classic Resi tropes, when members of the family are out and about looking for you, it has a kind of Nemesis (or MR X) feel about it as you are constantly being hunted and sure, if you have the tools, you can fight back but they won’t stay down for long and soon will be right back on you again. Each family member has their own section of the game and eventually you will have a showdown (Sometimes multiple showdowns) with them before moving on to the next part of the game. Eventually, you will move beyond the residential areas and into weirder locales that will really bring that nostalgic Resi feeling home as you begin to unravel the mystery of what is actually going on and who or what is behind everything.
The production side of the game is incredibly good too, graphically the game is a treat with highly detailed characters and almost photorealistic environments. The weapons feel weighty and like they have an actual impact on what they hit. The doors remind me of the original Resident Evil too, but instead of a door slowly opening on a black background, you are pushing your way through it, which like the weapons also feels weighty. The sound as well is very good, like a lot of horror games now, they have gotten that aspect down where you can hear weird thumps, bangs, and footsteps as you wander around. I imagine this game must be a very tense affair in surround sound. Adding to the tension of the game is music, or lack thereof for the most part, there is music during certain parts where maybe you are being chased or if it’s meant to be a particularly action focused sequence but for most of the game music is eerily absent, leaving you with nothing but the weird creepy sounds of your surroundings and your characters own ragged breathing.
There is plenty of replayability in the usual Resi style of unlockable items and difficulties, I have mentioned madhouse mode, which ups the difficulty and speed of the enemies as well as moves some of the items about and other wee things like that. There are the usual kinds of weapon unlocks and challenges (complete the game in under 4 hours, for example), these can be gleaned by having a quick peek at the Achievements/trophies list and I am certain all the tricky ones will net some kind of unlockable reward.
The game ends in classic Resident Evil style with a big spectacle and even a wee welcome surprise before the credits roll. It may leave you with more questions than it answers but hopefully these will be resolved in some of the upcoming free DLC entitled Not a Hero. There is also some paid DLC called Banned Footage 1 & 2, the former is already out and the latter will be along sometime soon.
The Verdict: If you are a fan of classic Resident Evil and can handle the change in perspective to first person, you should definitely pick up this latest installment as I am positive you will enjoy it as much as I did, which is a hell of a lot.
Written by Ross Falconer. Resident Evil 7 is available now for Xbox One, Ps4 and PC. Game reviewed on the Xbox version.
- Return to the franchises Horror Roots
- The odd janky animation