As a massive fan of the Resident Evil franchise I was apprehensive when I first played the Kitchen demo and Beginning Hour. While I enjoyed them it was a big leap away from what Resident Evil fans were used to. While many found the current direction of the games stale, it was familiar. My biggest aim from playing the latest game in the series, Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, was to see if this was a return to the much missed roots or a completely new direction.
Game: Resident Evil 7 biohazard
Reviewed on: PS4 (Pro and regular tested, review code provided by publisher)
First things first, how does the game look? Well, straight to the point, it look great. Obviously with a game that is so poorly lit (for spooks!) it can help to hide things that may not look great, but this isn’t the case. As the scared little boy that I am, I made sure to turn up the brightness of the screen as much as possible so I could catch every detail and the game doesn’t miss a beat. Environments looks stunningly creepy and the details are really there to be seen. I have literally been made to feel sick by some of the things I have seen in the game. You won’t get any breathtaking scenery but you will be creeped out beyond belief by what you are seeing on the screen. We did test this on both a PS4 Pro and regular PS4 but while there is a HDR mode, the difference is negligible. However I give credit to Capcom for creating a game that looks so good that it doesn’t need the power of the Pro to show it.
Same has to be said for the sound within the game. While you won’t be hearing the score on iTunes any time soon, the sound is used perfectly, when it is used. I played part of the game while on a party chat (for comforting reasons) and this definitely took away from the experience. You definitely need to be fully concentrated on the sound because it is vital for manoeuvring around without being caught off guard. The lack of sound is also used brilliantly as the quiet creates the atmosphere needed for those incredibly tense moments and I really do mean tense.
Now, onto the game itself. Like I said previously, at the start I was apprehensive about this being called Resident Evil. I felt like it could have been called something else and no one would have ever known it was linked to the Resident Evil series. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The more I played, the more I felt like this was the original Resident Evil but in first person view. The main reason for this and my favourite part of the game is the puzzles. This has always been my favourite part of Resident Evil games and Capcom have nailed it again. There are a lot of puzzles to solve, some easier than others, and they are brilliant. I won’t detail any of them because I am of the firm opinion that you need to go into this game blind, but trust me they are great. I was caught out by a few that had me sitting in my chair for a couple of hours at least thinking I had exhausted every single possibility to solve it, then suddenly I’d recheck something and realise I knew the answer the whole time!
The game’s story is vastly different this time around and doesn’t feature any of the characters we’ve come to know and love over the years. In my opinion this has proven to be exactly what the series needed. The fresh approach has seen us come to know a few new characters, some we like and some we cannot wait to see the back of! If you’ve played the demo then you’ll be familiar with some already, especially the VR demo (more on that to come) and can start to piece together a bit more of what happened in those demos. I don’t want to go too far into the story as like I said earlier, I want everyone to go in as blind as possible, but I will say that it has done a great job of pulling everything together and creating some very memorable moments.
Controlling the game feels smooth and relatively simple. You use very familiar controls to combat the enemies you encounter in the trigger buttons and can swap between weapons/items by pressing the directional buttons. There is also a quick medication option by pressing R1 as long as you have first aid sprays available. Crouch is R3 and triangle brings up your inventory. The inventory is a familiar place to Resident Evil fans and brings with it multiple slots to store items. Bigger items, like shotguns, require two slots so you will need to be aware of the space in your bag and choose your items wisely. Again, familiar to fans of the series, you can combine items to create new items, for example first aid sprays or ammo.
This is perhaps Resident Evil 7’s biggest success. In a world of games that take you through every single step of the journey, there are a handful that give you almost no guidance at all and leave it up to you, the player, to find your own way. Dark Souls is an example of a game that does that brilliantly and while Resident Evil used to claim to be able to do it too, recently this has not been the case. Resident Evil 7 however is a return to this method of gameplay and creates an enriching feeling of accomplishment when you do finally find your way to that elusive next stage. I had this a few time, with puzzles and with generally getting around. There are places you need to go that even the maps you find don’t show you, so be aware not to ignore anything. The game, while I believe to have an auto save feature, gives you tape recorders spotted around the maps to save your progress. I didn’t save at a tape recorder at one point and switched the game off, when I came back it had taken me further back so I believe the auto save is more for check points than when starting the game again. This now creates a sense of urgency to find a safe house when you want to finish up. You’ll also have access to a chest to store items so you can decide what is worth taking around with you and what is worth leaving behind to be picked up later.
VR fans may be very interested in the game as there is a VR Mode. As reluctant as I was to try this while home alone, I did spend some time with it and it is amazing. Amazing as in it does it’s job and scared me to the point I nearly peed myself a bit! I was scared when I was playing normally, then I put on VR and gelt a whole new level of fear. The game looks spectacular on the PS4 Pro and it is a must buy if you have a PS VR.
Obviously this is a game without any multiplayer and while personally this doesn’t bother me, this is a source of criticism from some. The overall longevity of the game is halted by a lack of alternative modes even though I do not believe Resident Evil to be the kind of series where this is too relevant.
Overall, Resident Evil 7 Biohazard is a worthy successor to the series and the game we have all be craving if you’ve been a fan since the original game. It’s incredibly scary, creepy and chilling and yet I cannot stop playing, opting to face my fears than run away. The game gives me no excuses to stop playing and I love it. While there isn’t much longevity past the story I truly believe that this is one of the best Resident Evil games since the original.