For the past several years, the massive hit horror video game series Resident Evil has seen its fair share of missteps since the groundbreaking release of series marvel, Resident Evil 4, in 2005. The series’ concurrent film franchise proved to be unoriginal and each successive film was worse than the last. Even the quality of games started to dwindle which drew doubts over the series’ future. These games and the films as a whole ditched the pretense of survival horror that was signature to the series. Thankfully, with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, the issues were addressed for the better with what amounts to be the strongest effort in the series since Resident Evil 4.
Moving away from the ridiculous plots of the fifth and sixth games, Resident Evil 7 follows a much simpler story. The story, set four years after Resident Evil 6 in 2017, follows Ethan Winters, an everyman, who journeys into the recesses of the Louisiana bayou in the town of Dulvey in search of his missing wife, Mia, initially thought to be deceased three years previously. Unbeknownst to Ethan, Mia is being held captive by the Baker family, who has also been responsible for a series of kidnappings and murders in the Dulvey area for three years. Arriving at the Baker Mansion and immediately getting thrust into a world of horror, Ethan must endure torture, mutilation and the towering presence of family patriarch Jack Baker. Assisted by Zoe Baker, who is still sane and wishes to escape her family, Ethan does whatever he can to survive the night.
Because it was stripped down to the series’ most basic element, horror, this new iteration has shown that the series is still capable of pulling out legitimate scares from the audience. The mechanics of the game, with ammunition conservation, health management, inventory management and slow, brooding horror, are expertly done and you will be moving about the game with a cold sweat for its entirety. The characters, especially the Bakers, are well done both in development and in horror capabilities, especially with the constant presence of Jack Baker, who taunts players mercilessly for most of the game.
Graphically speaking, the game is impressive to look at, with the haunting nature of the Baker compound oozing with menacing mold that inhabits every corner and the Southern Gothic nature of the bayou area. The sound design is fantastic, especially when using special headphones, where every creek, growl and gunshot sounds smooth and crisp. While the replay value may seem minimal after exploring most of the game and getting the feels for the scares and encounters, it can be replayed to see how fast you can beat the game, how many healing items you use, how many times you access the item box and so on.
Overall, the game is a much needed return to form, with a highly accessible plot, even for newcomers of the series. Resident Evil 7 showcases the strongest narrative the series has had in years, the tensest sequences you will encounter in gaming as of late and the most rewarding horror experience in the past few releases. This is definitely a game for both fans and first-timers, and an unexpectedly strong entry into a long-running series.
Game: “Resident Evil 7”
Release Date: Jan. 24
Rating: 5 out of 5