A long time ago...
In 1996, I really wanted a PlayStation. Unfortunately, I had a perfectly functioning Super Nintendo at the time. For a 6th grader, this made trying to convince my parents to get me one a hard proposition. I took solace in my subscription to a little gaming magazine called Gamepro. It was how I was able to vicariously experience these amazing disc based games with their incredible graphics. One such issue had a complete centerfold walk through for a game that had recently come out: Resident Evil.
This game looked incredible! The graphics were more than just 2D sprites. It had terrifying monsters and lot's of gore. It excited my imagination in a way that nothing else had in a magazine. I carried that issue around for months, pouring over that walkthrough as if I was the one actually playing it. I was obsessed with a game I would not be able to play...
Flash forward about 2 years and I finally got a PlayStation for Christmas! The games I got that morning: Final Fantasy 7 and Resident Evil The Directors Cut. I knew FF7 was going to be an amazing journey as I heard nothing but great things and commercials for it were still on TV. However, the first game I ripped open that day and started playing was Resident Evil. It has been one of the few things in my life that actually lived up to the hype in my head! Everything was as I wanted it and expected it to be and it started my life long love affair with the Resident Evil series.
It's a whole new game...
Today, we have a new Resident Evil. The seventh installment of the storied series aims to once again reinvent the franchise. There was much concern about the shift to first person and the inclusion of VR. Some said the game looked like it borrowed too heavily from a similar game called P.T. I had some of these concerns myself. Especially after playing the demo which, at first, didn't give us much to judge the game. I wasn't worried enough to not be curious.
When I first started the game up, I was greeted with the same location as the demo. Enough had changed that it felt new. Within about 15 min of playing the game, all my apprehensions were instantly allayed. Everything felt right. The inventory management, the controls, and the cheesy dialogue were all present. Hell, even the ridiculous way you heal with herbs is still there and still thoroughly unexplained. The only thing that had actually changed was the perspective. All else was intact. It serves the purpose of acknowledging what came before while entering into a new sub genre of survival horror that has been paved by P.T. and Outlast. Like the original, it didn't invent the game type that it showcases, but it has refined it to a fine point. The Resident Evil identity is alive and well. It even preserves the eye rollingly easy puzzles and themed door locks.
The game moves on from there in giving us a look at these people's lives as you explore the house. Though this house looks worse for ware, it looks like the people who lived here were happy once. Finding notes throughout, you can see that the Baker's were pretty normal and then something happened that began their decent into madness. The mystery, which I will not spoil here, unfolds as you play the game just like it did in the first game. In the original Resident Evil you had to piece together what happened at the Spencer Estate. In this game, you do the same. It has been a fun ride trying to piece together all these individual parts to get a bigger picture. I can say that all of this FEELS right.
If this game has taught me anything, it is that even in big franchises that have been building its plot for 20 years, there is still room to tell smaller stories. The game world of Resident Evil went from a mansion in the middle of the woods in the first game, to a large scale globe trotting adventure spanning many cities over many different characters in the sixth. Resident Evil 7 was not afraid to scale all that back and show how a world like this could affect a single family. I cannot recommend this game enough if you are a fan of the series. It takes a few minutes to adjust to the change in perspective, but then you will settle into the familiar as all of the tropes that makes this series what it is wash over you. It's new, but nostalgic. That is an extremely hard balance to strike and I think the game nails it.
My second critique is the difficulty, or rather the lack of difficulty. Granted, for the purposes of getting through the story, I played the game on easy. This critique may be moot on harder difficulties I will admit. But I found myself breezing through most of the enemies and bosses. One thing I can say about it though, is the difficulty never ramped up. Usually, you get an idea that you're reaching the end of the game when the difficulty spikes suddenly. In my play-through, the game just...ended. If your' re gonna play this game, I would recommend playing at a harder difficulty to maybe get the full effect. Easy is TOO easy.
In conclusion, I would whole heartedly recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the series. The Resident Evil franchise had just started to show its age. This game proves there is still (un)life sent in the games. It has it's flaws to be sure, but I don't think they detract from the overall experience. If you are a fanboy/fangirl of Resident Evil you will be in love with this game. If you were a fair weather fan of the series, then you can probably wait for the inevitable Steam or PlayStation sale. If you don't like survival horror, well, this game will do little to change your mind.
All images in this article are the property of Capcom. All rights reserved. This reviewer is in no way affiliated with Capcom or any of its holdings. This article is for information only.
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