“Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” brings the series back to its roots. Since the last few games have strayed further and further away from what made the series so iconic, Capcom seems to have finally realized what it was that made “Resident Evil,” “Resident Evil.”
Puzzles, scares and questions abound as Ethan Winters, the main character, searches for his lost girlfriend, Mia. After receiving a mysterious message from her telling him to come find him in the Louisiana bayou, he rushes off to find her, only to realize things are far more sinister than they first appeared.
To begin, the game controls very well, leaving the player constantly feeling just slow enough to make any enemy a real threat. The gunplay is slow and heavy, hearkening back to older “Resident Evil” games rather than the shoot ‘em ups of the past few installments.
But one major innovation came from this new entrant to the series: first-person perspective. “Resident Evil” has always been angled from the third person, just behind the shoulder of the player character. This time, the creators decided to make things much more personal. Players see directly through the eyes of Winters as he creeps around the Baker family mansion looking for Mia and trying to escape.
The gameplay mechanics are top notch — puzzles are challenging, but always have solutions that make sense, the movement speed is slow and measured and in terms of guns the ammunition is extremely sparse. Every bullet counts.
During a play-through, players will often find themselves trying to land headshots to conserve their bullets. This is meant to save as much ammunition as possible, adding more tension to the game. Boss fights are battles against enemies that punctuate certain areas of the game, and are extremely nerve-wracking and difficult.
Graphically, the game is impressive. Textures are very well done, but sometimes hair and other features can look somewhat jagged. This takes away from the experience in only a minor way. Overall, the game is very pleasing to the eye. There is just the right amount of darkness to get players’ hearts pounding. Even the shadow of a rotating ceiling fan can cause someone to jump.
The story of the game is constructed well. It leaves many questions unanswered, forcing the player to piece things together for themselves using documents scattered around locations in the game. As a character, Winters is a bit of a blank slate — players get to experience the game with more of a fresh eye. It brings the horror-game experience much closer to home.
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The cast of characters included in the game varies. One of the families, the Baker Family, is so unsettling and off-putting, it gives a Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel to their family dynamic. Mia’s story turns out to be very well constructed — she plays a larger part than originally thought, and the ending leaves plenty of room for the greater “Resident Evil” story to grow.
The sound and music in the game is used very strategically — music is only used to punctuate story moments or to get players’ hearts pounding during a boss fight. Wearing headphones is highly recommend when playing this game — the environmental noise is superb. Creaky floorboards and random banging on doors make for a very tense atmosphere. One never truly feels safe anywhere in the game while playing.
All in all, “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” is a great return to form for the series, and it provides a lot of room for future games to continue growing. While the main character is a bit dull, and some graphical hiccups take away from the experience a bit, the rest of the package more than makes up for the small missteps.
This is truly a great horror game. It’s something gamers have been looking for and should highly consider picking up.