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RESIDENT EVIL 7 BIOHAZARD Revitalizes the Franchise (Review)

RESIDENT EVIL 7 BIOHAZARD Revitalizes the Franchise (Review)

Families come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s one thing they have in common; they’re nowhere near perfect. There are scuffles, rifts, lies, and in the case of the crazed Baker family, a penchant for abducting unsuspecting victims and chasing them around a derelict mansion. Sounds fun, right? Right—especially when it comes to the disturbing world Capcom crafted for them in Resident Evil 7 biohazardThe Japanese giant’s latest not only successfully brings the horror franchise home to its survival horror roots, but branches out and masters new mechanics, just in time to celebrate its 20th anniversary. When coupled with the twisted family, the terrifying sights, sound design, first-person point of view and combat make Resident Evil 7  a nightmare I loved to dread.

Resident Evil 7

Welcome to the family, Ethan.

Contrary to past entries, you won’t be playing as an experienced officer strapped to the nines with weapons; rather, you’re a regular guy named Ethan, whose only goal is to find his wife Mia following her 3-year disappearance. Like the decaying food on the supper table, and peeling paint on the walls, Ethan’s dream to reunite with his beloved quickly faded and spiraled out of control into an unimaginable nightmare as soon as he stepped foot on the massive property and met the Bakers—who for some reason really want Ethan to become a permanent member of their family.

Like the characters (which we’ll get to in a minute), the dilapidated estate is entirely new to the franchise. At first glance, it doesn’t exactly shout Resident Evil. The seemingly abandoned plantation was peppered with family portraits, household items, and boarded up windows. There are also tons of locked doors leading to other areas of the house, secrets, and a hordes of monsters in the basement. Despite taking place in only one location—albeit with a number of different structures and areas—the plantation’s layout was delightfully complex.

Similar to its predecessors, finding random items like keys, statue heads, and puzzle pieces, allow you to creep deeper into the maze of rooms. But the items aren’t always so easy to find. While some are hidden away in boxes, others are only rewarded to you after you complete a series of puzzles, or make it through to the next area. The puzzles are relatively easy, but traversing the area isn’t. Either the Bakers, or the mysterious creatures referred to as the “Molded” will be there to get in the way—and be seriously creepy while doing it. Though the Molded are absolutely terrifying, it’s the family members: Jack, Marguerite, and Lucas, that made me the most uncomfortable.

Res Evil

You ain’t gettin’ away.

The first member of the family you go toe-to-toe with is Jack. As you search the house for limited supplies and ways to escape, the head of the Baker household slowly stalks the halls with a deadly weapon, shouting offensive phrases at you. He’s easy enough to avoid as long as you stay low and keep moving. But if he catches you, well… you better be ready to lose your shit. Dealing with Marguerite requires a much stealthier approach, while your bouts with Lucas require a sharp wit to survive his Saw-like games. The combined experiences add a lot of welcome variety to the gameplay.

More often than not, the best option is to duck out of the way and just keep running, especially because bullets, and weapons are hard to come by. Ammo and health packs can be crafted on-the-go, which isn’t anything new, but a blessing nonetheless. Need a few more rounds to take out a boss? Or would you rather use that specific ingredient to stock up on medicine? The decision is a crucial one that will either make or break you. The good news is, the crafting process is easy to use once you bring up your inventory. Simply select the items you wish to combine, and hit a single button.

Aside from scaring the ever-living crap out of you, the Bakers’ other function is to slowly reveal the intense plot. Their desire to adopt you was the most intriguing bit that fueled my desire to search for more items and progress to figure out what was really happening. Unfortunately, what made the first half of the game’s story great, wasn’t handled as well in the last few hours of the game. It’s hard to explain this without spoiling anything. Just know that the plot wasn’t hammered home as well as it was capable of doing.

Resident Evil 7 TV

The Sound of Terror.

The predominant cause of tension in biohazard was the expert sound design. As you shuffle through the house, your footsteps echo and trick you into thinking you’re being followed. I had to turn the volume down on several occasions because it frightened me that much. The new first-person point of view only heightened that tension as shadows, items, and enemies danced in the corner of my eye.

Another new feature was the inclusion of playable VHS tapes. While some served as simple plot device to reveal a flashback from another character, others are designed to help you solve a puzzles that if done correctly, could potentially save your life. Aside from adding to the story, the videos served as a nice break from Ethan’s intense adventure.

The entire game can of course be played on the PlayStation VR, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Because of how intense the game is, VR should be consumed in small portions. That isn’t to say it’s a bad experience, it’s just a bit much for the new (and brilliant) first-person point of view. Of course, Capcom doesn’t intend players to play the entire game in VR. Rather, its designed to give players an extra dose of fear for their favorite sections of the game.

Resident Evil 7

The Verdict.

Resident Evil 7 biohazard is the perfect homecoming for the RE franchise’s 20th anniversary. It opts for tight spaces in a labyrinthine mansion rather than the balls-to-the-wall action sequences that were becoming the norm. As a result, it’s one of the best in the series.

Rating: 4.5/5 Burritos.

4.5-burritos1

Images: Capcom

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