I’m going to come out and say what no one else will: This is NOT Resident Evil. What Capcom has created here is an amazing Horror based VR tech demo, but there is next to nothing that ties it to the great Survival/Horror/Action series that has been around since 1996… No matter how many character cameos Capcom tries to force into the ending of the game and the upcoming DLC expansions.
This review is hard for me to do as I am a HUGE Resident Evil fan and this game while being a good horror game, is something that I refuse to call Resident Evil, and I won’t use those words again in this review if I can help it. If you want to read something that is not so fanboyish in nature, then go read Jason’s review when it appears on the site.
Game Name: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed) & Xbox One
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Disclosure: Review copy provided by PR company on behalf of Capcom.
This game places you in the role of Ethan, a guy who has received word that his girlfriend Mia is still alive after disappearing for 3 years. (Sounds familiar… Like from some Silent style Hills story? Believe me, you’ll be making that comparison A LOT during this game.) Ethan arrives at some house in the fictional city of Dulvey, Louisiana; the same house that we’ve already seen in the Beginning Hour demo that was released after E3 2016.
It’s here that we meet the Bakers, the family with some strange abilities and mutations. The Bakers are the main antagonists of the game and are largely invincible till their assigned Boss Battles. Jack, the patriarch of the Baker family, has regenerative abilities making him practically immortal. Marguerite, the mother of the family, is more of a jump scare style creature that mutates into the usual grotesque blob over time; and there’s Lucas, a psychotic bastard who has an obsession with Saw-style traps and puzzles. As you try and dodge these three during the game, you get help from a woman named Zoe.
Over time you learn the secret behind the insane Baker family, why Mia disappeared for 3 years, a twist that was so fucking obvious that it makes Saw 2’s twist seem like great writing, and the return of 2 Resident Evil names right at the end to make things connect and make Capcom feel like they could use the Resident Evil series name… Think a thick-armed sibling and the name of a rain defensive device.
This game’s gameplay is decent, to say the least. You spend a lot of time making your way around different locations on the Baker compound searching for the next key/item that will advance the story. For the most part, you are also chased by one of the three Baker family members. The Bakers cannot be defeated nor stunned by bullets, knives, or any other weapons that you find, they can only be avoided by hiding till they have passed. Sometimes, Marguerite can be repelled with fire to a degree, but it’s not till she is fully mutated that you can actually take her, or any other member of the Baker family down for good. There are also mutated people of a few different but very same looking grunt type things to slow you down that you can kill, but they really stand no chance against bullets. It’s a shame that these grunts exist since they really do bring you out of the experience, unlike the Bakers.
The game plays very simply. Left stick moves you around, right stick moves your head (unless you’re using the PlayStation VR headset, then you move your head around with your head!), and you press X to interact with things. Here it’s where you are pretty much forced to treat this as a VR experience as the “Head wobble Camera” is like having to deal with a bobble-head doll as you move around, as this is meant to give you the feeling of VR control. So those with motion sickness might want to turn the effect off, even though it kills the effect and makes you feel like you’re floating around rather than walking or running; again this is like you’re being punished for not having the VR headset. The whole game felt like I was being punished for not having a PlayStation VR headset as you do need to be able to whip your head around quickly to avoid the Bakers at times. So controller players prepare for that.
One good thing that this game does is bring back the limited inventory system, which makes you think about picking up that extra ammo instead of that first aid kit. Inventory management was something that added to the fear of the Resident Evil franchise and I’m happy to see it return as you do feel a bit more dread in the intense boss fights to the point where you’re cursing yourself for making the wrong decision when it comes to what you collect through the game.
Ok, here’s where things really shine in this game… To a degree. While the environments are amazingly detailed to the point of making you want to throw up (Open the fridge in the opening segment and see what I mean), where the game breaks the uncanny valley is in its characters. There’s something about the eyes and mouth of every single character that is just breaking the immersion for me. Also, the mutations, while detailed and gross looking, also are game breaking when it comes to the experience. These are a couple of small things that I think the VR has brought to the forefront due to its first person close up nature.
But back to the environments. This is where the game really shines. Every movement, every shadow, every piece of rotting wood and rotting other things has been done so well that I’m going to put it almost on par with the food images from Final Fantasy XV. One of the best examples of this is a water section early in the game where the dark gross brown water looks like something that you really don’t want to walk through as even from your safe TV screen you still feel like you’re going to get some sort of disease just from looking at it, it’s that good. The use of light in this game is amazing too, you’ll be jumping at every shadow including your own for most of the game.
The sound in this game is one of the low points of the game. While the voice acting is some of the best given this game’s abilities, it’s a far cry from anything that we could call good. It’s just a lot of yelling at your face. The sound from your weapons doesn’t give you the idea that you’re hitting anything nor pulling the trigger on anything more powerful than a pop gun. However, where the game does excel in sound is the atmosphere. Every footstep and board creaks will result on you whipping your head around to see if you’re about to get pounced on by one of the Baker family, and that’s more than enough in a game like this to make you believe in where you are. But once again, the voice acting, even the banter from The Baker Family is just so generic and bad that it’s almost embarrassing, and that’s from someone who doesn’t mind the usual Resident Evil cheesy dialogue.
You’re going to hear a lot of the same thing from other reviewers about this game. Thing like “It’s a return to form”, “It’s made Resident Evil relevant again”, “It makes the mistakes of the past disappear” and other pleasant things. Keep this in mind, none of this is about Resident Evil, it’s about a Horror VR Experience that Capcom has slapped the Resident Evil name onto in order to see units.
As a Horror VR Experience, this game is nothing short of amazing and a trendsetter for future VR Experiences. However, this has more to do with Silent Hill and it’s canceled Silent Hills PT demo than it does anything to do with a traditional Resident Evil game. If it does have anything that connects it, it’s the boss mutations ripped from Resident Evil 4. Otherwise, the delivery of how things are mutated are from Parasite Eve, the gameplay from PT, and as mentioned already the narrative from Silent Hill 2.
If you’re looking for a game that will scare the shit out of you, will make sure you keep the light on for a few hours after you turn the game off and have you inspecting every little sound during the night, then you’ve found it in Resident Evil 7. But if you’re looking for a game that keeps the tradition of Survival/Horror alive or expands on the Resident Evil lore, you’re not going to find it here. Do not be conned by the hype other sites will give this game for they are wowed by the technology and potential of the VR experience than they are that this is another entry in the long-running franchise that I love.
*A copy of Resident Evil 7 was provided to us by Capcom for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
A great Horror VR Experience, but it's not Resident Evil
If you’re looking for a Resident Evil title, then go give Resident Evil Revelations 1 or 2 a go. Hell, even Resident Evil 5 & 6 are closer to a Resident Evil game than this game is.
However, if you’re wanting a scary VR experience, then this is the perfect game for you. Resident Evil 7 will make sure you’re shitting your pants and drive you paranoid as hell thanks to the Baker Family. While this game does a good job at atmosphere, it also shows that we are still very far away from the uncanny valley with character models. Also, make sure you are playing with VR no matter what version you have as Capcom will punish you for not owning a VR headset to “get the full experience”.
- A great scary atmosphere
- The Bakers are fucked right up and great antagonists
- Perfectly fine Horror VR Experience
- Characters faces break the uncanny valley
- Sound ranges from ok to subpar
- IT’S NOT RESIDENT EVIL AT ALL!!