Resident Evil 7 – It’s Res Jim, but not as we know it!

Zombies and stuff.

No spoilers here!  Read with confidence!

But it’s not Resident Evil!  It’s in first person!  It’s not about zombies!  Where’s Umbrella?  etc.  I know, I’m a couple of months late to the party, but I’m glad I finally turned up because this is the most Resident Evil Resident Evil since Resident Evil.  Yes, that was a real sentence that I wrote.  This is the latest game in the venerated series, and whilst its perspective may be different when compared to most of the games in the series, this is without a doubt a Resident Evil game.  The atmosphere, environment and puzzles call back to the classic and tries to shake off the bad taste left by the more recent entries (I’m looking at you 6!)  You’re running around a mansion and it’s grounds, fighting monsters whilst conserving ammo and searching for keys to bizarre locks.  That’s pretty Resident Evil if you ask me.

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The initial walk to the home is similar in style to the opening of a lot of first person horror games. Very pretty to look at but with an edge of foreboding.

You are Ethan, a man who’s wife, Mia, disappeared 3 years ago.  Ethan receives a video message from Mia hinting at her whereabouts and he sets off to find her in a mysterious old manor house on a plantation in the middle of nowhere.  If you’ve played the demos released during the (well put together) marketing campaign, you’ll recognise some of the early locations you travel through before you gain access to the house proper.  Before long you find yourself stalked by the seemingly psychotic members of the family that live there and the “molded” – black slime monsters that grow from the walls and ceiling and seek to pull your limbs off.

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At times like these it’s always good to see a friendly face.

You means of defence are severely limited at first, with a knife and handgun being pretty much all you have for a while, along with some healing items that have some interesting properties.  Other weapons can be collected along the way, expanding your defensive options and giving the occasional nod to previous games in the series (particularly the first entry).  Most of the combat is against the molded and tends to be rather slow paced and methodical as you try to keep them a safe distance whilst you chip away, minimising you use of ammunition (or maybe running away from them altogether).  In this regard, the game is very much like the first Resident Evil, with resource conservation and avoiding conflict being essential early on.  The family also stalk the corridors, ready to pursue and attack you if spotted.  They can be fended off for a time, but only if you’re willing to spend your resources to do so; better to avoid them or make a heart-pounding escape through the corridors in most cases.

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The now iconic dinner scene that has been all over the promotional material. I would expect VR to be especially effective here.

Boss encounters are great exclamation marks to the growing tension in each area with each one becoming more grotesque.  Compared to being swarmed by regular enemies though, they tend not to be all that challenging.  The only exception was the first proper boss (the second one you confront), and that’s more due to the control scheme not being all that suited to the combat style you end up forced into.  Most bosses requite plenty of ammo and a good few healing items (at least they did for me) and good inventory organisation helps in ensuring you have what you need at any point in time.  Whilst not entirely challenging, they are entertaining and varied with the exception of the final battle which was big in scale but small on interaction.  It was a little disappointing when compared to some of the other encounters.

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The shotgun is a bit of a pain to get early in the game, but it a god send if you do.

The only other thing I found really irritating was something that also annoyed me about The Evil Within: traps.  Whilst only in the game occasionally and not as obnoxious, I find tripwire based traps and exploding item boxes an annoyance rather than an increase in challenge.  They make sense being there in the context of the character who places them, but that doesn’t make them any more fun to trip over.  I understand that this is meant to be a slow game (the controls make that obvious fairly early on), but the exploding item boxes are especially aggravating.

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I spent about 80% of the game with blood smears on the screen as I never wanted to use my healing items.

I have not sampled the VR mode of this (hey, I’m not made of money) so I can’t really comment on its implementation.  It’s fairly clear when playing where the VR is meant to have its greatest impact though.  There are a number of times involving characters and items being right in front of your character and I imagine it would be quite effective when wearing a headset.  Playing on a TV is fine though, and those moments don’t stand out unless you’re looking for them.  The visuals on the whole are excellent throughout and I noticed very little that wasn’t extremely well polished.

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More VR fodder.

Most importantly though, Resident Evil 7 is fun to play.  It’s not terrifying by any stretch, but the atmosphere works very well and creates an unsettling feeling throughout.  It doesn’t rely on jump-scares but gives a feeling of unease through vulnerability and a lack of preparedness for what may come walking around the next corner.  I loved that sense of threat , and found the level of challenge spot on when playing on normal.  I’m not going near any higher difficulty though.

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There’s DEFINITELY nothing bad behind that door.

Resident Evil 7 was developed and published by Capcom (using an excellent in house engine I should add).  I played the games on Xbox One and would recommend it to anyone who likes the classic games in the series or someone looking for a solid, well made horror game.  Now here’s hoping Capcom can capitalise and rescue the series long term!

Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour – P.T. Returns?

So this is actually a demo of sorts.  A demo for a game that isn’t out until next year.  A demo that shows gameplay that won’t actually be in the final game.  Supposedly this is showing the style of the game rather than what the game is about exactly.  It seems to be taking on the concept of the hugely viral teaser demo P.T. for Silent Hills before Konami went mental (because Konami is the worst) of showing a theme to build hype without spoiling the main game.  I grabbed this demo as quickly as I could so that it didn’t disappear into the ether if Capcom suddenly decided to go mental too.  And I have to say, it’s pretty good as a 20 minute demo.

Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour_20160617204113

Part of the demo takes place with you wearing a camera, somewhat like Outlast.

The story is a little unclear, but you wake up in a room in a shabby house with the instruction to get out of the house.  What follows is a simple puzzle about finding a key to open a door.  Thinking about it, that’s fairly standard for a traditional Resident Evil game, but without the horribly convoluted puzzle elements of the past.  There’s no silly chess piece keys, or secret crystals that activate magic statues, just common sense.  You also get what I assume is a flashback scene with you controlling a camera man.  There’s a fairly small area to explore, but it’s absolutely dripping with atmosphere.  The sound, or lack of it at times, goes a long way towards giving you a sense of isolation in this creepy, seemingly abandoned home.

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It looks lovely.  Although perhaps lovely is the wrong word to use.

There’s no combat in the demo, although you can find a weapon if you look around very carefully.  This makes sense based on what the developers have said regarding the full game: there will be weapons but combat is not the focus of the game.  Supposedly you’ll be better off avoiding fights in the full game which will be a nice change from the more action heavy recent entries in the series.  The first person perspective seems to be a reaction to the success of games such as Outlast, Layers of Fear (which I loved by the way) and P.T.  This and the lack of zombies do make me question how much of a Resident Evil game this will be in the long run.  I’m all for modernising a series, but sometimes it can feel like the developers are making a game and slapping a well known name on the cover to get additional sales (I’m looking at you Syndicate).  This is a demo for a very good game in my opinion, but if you’re after more Resident Evil, this isn’t likely to scratch that itch.

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A little Blair Witch influence here?

Resident Evil 7 is being developed and published by Capcom.  I played the demo on PS4, and would recommend you take a look at it if you’ve got a spare 20 minutes.  And Playstation Plus.  As a final thought, I bet this would be fantastic in VR!