Like many franchises that have been running for years now, Resident Evil has had highs and downs, but recently more lows then highs. Every game in the RE franchise has it’s defenders- perhaps not Operation Raccoon City but I think that majority of the people agree that, there have been more lows then highs. I enjoyed Resident Evil 5, but it paled and wasn’t as good as Resident Evil 4 and that change in identity led to the mess that was Resident Evil 6. An increased focus on action then true horror left the franchise in distress, so a new approach needed to be taken.
Salvation arrived in the form of Resident Evil 7, one of the best games in the franchise since Resident Evil 4 although I’m not sure why they called it Resident Evil 7, when it should have been a reboot and start again from scratch. I went into it blind, just only playing the teaser and emerged from my three hour play session yesterday with eyes full of hope that Resident Evil has returned from whatever distress that it was going through for a mere 5 years. The switch to first person is a total reinvention of the series, with an influence of Amnesia and Outlast which is there, but it has a very strong likeness and strong influence of Hideo Kojima’s P.T from 2014, it has strong resemblance to P.T but it has more in common with the earlier titles then modern horror games. You have to solve puzzles, you have to find keys and find items that help you unlock a different part of the Baker mansion, there’s also soft music that plays in a save room.
Resident Evil 7 makes the lore and history simple again, which again this game should’ve been a reboot but I’m not here to complain. You aren’t Leon Kennedy or Chris Redfield, you’re just a middle-aged man who’s looking for his wife in the dark, swampy, and isolationist area that is the Louisiana Bayou. The story gets more complicated as it goes but having that simple human story and motivation is what makes Resident Evil 7 fresh, you play as Ethan Winters who is a middle-aged everyday man, you feel more vulnerable because you’re not Leon or Chris and you don’t have the skills that those two people have.
I love how Resident Evil 7 returns to that old-school formula that the earlier Resident Evil titles were known for. Item management, atmospheric exploration, puzzle-solving and bursts of action and the game does it well. The pace is slow and steady, quiet encounters and always a tense feeling. There isn’t action around every corner and that heightens the fear and the tension, because the game likes to play on that and you’re always thinking what’s on the other side of the hallway or what’s behind that door. The game tricks you with familiar tropes like enemies appearing in a hallway you’ve already passed through, and some jump scares around corners. Resident Evil 7 is quiet horror, it isn’t loud and brash.
The game doesn’t bombard you with enemies, set-pieces, and cutscenes like Resident Evil 5 or Resident Evil 6, it’s quiet and tense and it’s the fear of the unknown that propels you to go across that hallway. It’s a trick that was borrowed from Kojima’s P.T where it’s the fear of the unknown to whittle away your mind and nerves, it doesn’t maintain this all the time but the first couple hours, it’s exactly like that and the shift to first person helps that fear.
Resident Evil 7 gives fresh life to the series and is a complete dial down to the big action set pieces of the earlier titles. You’re left with a trimmed down, slim, and fantastic horror game, it is one of the best games in the series since Resident Evil 4.
Make sure to take a look at my first impressions coming tomorrow.