It has been a long while since we had a proper console Resident Evil game. After the fourth entry to the series Capcom quickly turned it into an action paced game with little horror elements that made the previous games a gem. One could argue the downfall started with Resident Evil 4 despite it being one of the best RE games to date but it was the one that introduced weird creatures, more action and a movie style experience. Resident Evil VII: Biohazard takes a step back in the right direction to deliver what fans have been asking for, for years.
I was a bit worried when RE7 was first reviled. It looked to be like an Outlast type game than an actual RE game. I was thinking to myself this is just another trend Capcom is jumping on. But to my surprise after little teasers started surfacing, the game might not be that way after all, and it wasn't. Sure in the first portion of the game it was hide and seek, but it quickly got on track to what I was hoping to expect. The traditional gameplay elements were there like key specific rooms, item chests, plenty of weapons and puzzle solving. One thing that I wish was that I the option to change the saving method. The game frequently auto saves and infinite amount of saves but in Madhouse difficulty, autosaves are scaled back and you must save using cassettes.
Capcom did a great job creating tension (although the level of pure fear never quite reached its potential) through nicely crafted areas with tight, dimly lit hallways and the ambient sounds throughout the mansion. I did have an issue with the graphics as edges weren't smoothed out and being very flat and lacking sharpness. It occasionally broke the immersion as it was something I kept noticing but it wasn't a big enough issue to have me lose my focus on what really mattered. On a quick note, I did spend some time with VR and while the experience was completely awesome, the fact that it was hard to control and gave me motion sickness was too much to overcome to truly enjoy it.
The plot was also another aspect that had its issues. Whether it be poorly written dialog, or poorly explained events, the game didn't really develop a good pace to properly tell a story. Maybe I am out of the loop since I have not played the handheld RE's and haven't played RE6 but from my understanding, this is mostly a new experience. I think the ending may have some connections because I have no idea what it means. Also the basic premise attached too many familiar elements from other forms of media making it pretty cliche and overused. I also didn't care for the characters. Mia and Ethan never had you believe they were an item, at least from Ethan's standpoint. During the games conclusion his monotonous tone couldn't convey an ounce of emotion.
Despite those gripes, I thought Resident Evil VII was a big step in the right direction and I thoroughly enjoyed my 9 hours experience. It has high replay ability, a challenging new difficulty and some free DLC coming in the spring Capcom adds some more incentives to keep coming back for more.
*2017 Game of the Year nominee*