Two weeks ago I would have never imagined that a Resident Evil game would be one of my most anticipated. Having never really owned an original Playstation, I missed out on a lot of great games (many of which I have gone back and played) and Resident Evil was one of them. Previously I had only played RE4 on Wii and the less-than-spectacular RE5. The announcement of the seventh installment of the franchise was met with a lot of excitement in the gaming community, given that is a return to original form as well as offering full VR support.
I spent the better part of my week finally playing through Resident Evil: REmaster on PS4. I had attempted to start the game multiple times on Gamecube, but just could not get the hang of the tank controls. The PS4 version solved this problem for me, allowing me to get through the game with minor frustrations. I now see why this game is so highly praised. It completely exceeded my expectations, complete with an incredible sense of discovery, perfect pacing, and just the right amount of tension. I can’t wait to explore the rest of the series.
While RE5 and RE6 took the franchise into a far more action-based style, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a return to the survival horror roots. Even with the change to a first-person perspective, it is said to retain many of the staples of the series: use of herbs, item management, and exploration. The slower, puzzle-based gameplay is what made the original game feel so special. It’s great to see a return to this style, especially in a completely new first-person perspective.
While I wholeheartedly enjoyed the first Resident Evil, I never found myself particularly scared. I was more intrigued by the level design and adventure game-esque gameplay. Shifting into first-person view allows for more personal interactions, immersing the player fully into the environment — especially if you’re playing in VR.
Like the original game, Resident Evil 7 has a focus on calculation. Ammo is limited, inventory slots are scarce, and enemies should mostly be avoided rather than fought outright. This will hopefully be a triumphant return to the survival horror genre. Though there have been a number of great horror games in recent memory like Outlast and Until Dawn, they are more akin to a terrifying thrill ride than a focused, tactical exploration/survival game. Players cannot coast through traditional Resident Evil — they must use wits and patience to survive.
The fixed-camera is a staple of the original game, which serves to deliver tension by forcing the player to approach situations from a set angle. Now the player is up close and personal with every environment, forcing them to push forward and discover what lies ahead. The feeling of powerlessness that Resident Evil is known for will be illustrated well in first-person perspective. If anything, it will feel more claustrophobic and desperate.
Since the usual cast of Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, and others from S.T.A.R.S. are not playable in this game, it opens new storytelling opportunities. Ethan Winters is the new protagonist, who is on the search for his missing wife — a concept that is somewhat reminiscent of Silent Hill 2. Winters is a civilian, which offers a nice contrast to the specialized agents of the previous games in the series. Hopefully there will be some kind of differentiation in the combat since he has no trained combat experience.
Winters encounters a decaying plantation house during his search, which is home to the Baker family. They are no ordinary family and may remind horror film fans of Leatherface’s family in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, though possibly to a lesser extreme. While the Baker house seems to be serving as the primary location, I imagine that it will also lead to new areas similar to the way that the mansion has many different offshoots in the original Resident Evil. The courtyard, research facility, and lab serve as fantastic new areas that contribute to the greater story of the game.
It seems that the developers at Capcom have realized that some of the magic of the franchise had been lost in RE5 and RE6 which dealt with more widespread bioterrorist catastrophes rather than a small, contained story. With the first-person perspective, a lot of people have speculated that there is a lot of influence from PT in this game, though others have stated that it’s simply traditional Resident Evil with a new point of view. There is a lengthy teaser as well as a playable demo available for Resident Evil 7, but I have not delved into either one, since I prefer to go in blind for a horror experience.
I love the idea of this series “reinventing” itself but also going back to its roots. They could have rebooted the franchise and simply named it “Resident Evil”, similar to what God of War and Ratchet and Clank are doing. I personally prefer keeping the number in the title since it lets fans know that even though there were missteps in the series, it’s still a continuation of all the previous games.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is just a few weeks away and will release on January 24th. Be sure to check Gamer Professionals for more coverage and stay tuned for the rest of my most anticipated games of the year!