WELCOME BACK, RESIDENT EVIL!
With the Banned Footage DLC now available for Playstation owners (and on February 21st for everyone else) we felt like looking into the best and worst things Resident Evil 7 did.
For those of you who haven’t heard the internet going on about it yet: Resident Evil 7 is a very good game.
Though a bit jump scare heavy, it blends a properly tense and terrifying atmosphere with intense boss fights that let you blow off some steam. It suffers a bit in the third act, where the linearity sets in, but it has everything from back when Resident Evil games weren’t terrible as well as some cool new things. It’s not pretty, but it plays well, it draws you in and it’s well worth your time.
It’s a trip back to the series’ roots that isn’t afraid to throw in new stuff despite that.
However, no game is perfect. Let’s look at which parts of the game came out looking good and which ones still have some mold on them.
- The Atmosphere
The first hour or so, the game doesn’t feel much like a Resident Evil game and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Of its predecessors it is probably closest to the very first game in the series and even that’s not a great comparison.
You do start running into series staples like weird puzzles and animal-themed doors soon enough, which brings back that warm feeling of nostalgia.
The game is at its most terrifying early on when you have no clue what’s going on, why it’s happening or what you can really do about it. The dilapidated state of the house, the highly disturbing nature of the Baker family and your inability to really defend yourself leave you feeling vulnerable and scared.
This is exactly what the game should do. Even when you get a handgun, you don’t really feel much safer and that’s great. It forces you to be slow and careful and explore all over the place, even when you know you might only find more things that want to kill you. Even areas that were previously safe might not be so anymore if you pass through again later.
It’s a surprisingly successful jump back into horror for a series that basically just became action games a few sequels in.
The switch from the series’ third person, over-the-shoulder camera to a first person camera is a great boon for the atmosphere. It makes everything just a little bit more harrowing, especially when the chainsaws come out and you start losing appendages.
The game will keep you nice and tense and it’s more than happy to make you jump by suddenly throwing enemies or hazards at you. Yes, some jump scares are cheap or just fall flat, but the game’s tense atmosphere does earn it a pass for at least a few of them.
- The Scarcity
Fighting is not always a great option and it should probably always be your last resort. Enemies can often be avoided and some even permanently despawn if you run past them into a safe room.
Running and hiding is typically the better option simply because health items and ammo and other items are pretty rare. As the boss fights are real resources drainers, its best to conserve most of your first aid medicine and ammo for these confrontations.
While we never found ourselves facing a boss with not enough left to beat them, we did have to leave weapons behind at times because we were almost out of ammo and they were just taking up space in our inventory.
Speaking of which, the scarcity becomes even more of a problem when you take your inventory into account. Space is very limited, though it can be upgraded later, and when you have to start carrying different kinds of ammo and healing items, it gets crowded pretty quickly.
It adds the challenge of making sure you’re ready to face what’s out there, while also leaving space to pick things up until you find a crate to store everything in again.
The game gets pretty frugal with ammo and explosives near the end, but for the most part if pays to be careful with your shots and to avoid fights if you can.
- The Boss Fights
To be perfectly honest, we were a bit on the fence as to whether or not to include this one. The boss fights are not universally appreciated and we can kind of see why some people dislike them.
The bosses have a ton of health and what you’re meant to do and whether it is even working isn’t always readily apparent. This can be frustrating. The second mutated boss fight is a good example of this, as it drags on for ages.
Why do we like them, then?
Mainly, it has to do with the game’s pacing. You spend hours hiding and sneaking around, gathering everything you can along the way. The boss fights are when you turn around, dig in your heels and face the big scary thing you’ve been avoiding all this time.
And then you blow its face off with a shotgun. It’s cathartic.
The boss fights are tense, yes, but they are also the game’s way of letting you unwind by wailing on an enemy for a few minutes without having to worry about jump scares or getting snuck up on. They take a lot of ammo to put down, but that’s the point. It keeps you from being too prepared for the next area by draining your healing items and ammo.
If they leave you with enough to just shoot your way through, the scary atmosphere is wasted.
When you win, you have a brief moment to congratulate yourself on your accomplishment before you go right back to being terrified as you head into the next building with maybe 6 bullets and a half-empty bottle of first aid medicine.
The cycle of Terror-Boss Fight!-Relief-Repeat is a pretty good way to keep the game engaging.
- The Writing
If we were feeling charitable we’d say Resident Evil’s writing has always been dumb and kind of campy at best. Sometimes knowingly so, but often simply by accident.
Resident Evil 7 is blessed with far better writing than most of the series, due to the fact that it leaves most of the dumb things from previous games alone, but even here it’s not exactly great. It has some interesting files, journals and notes to find, but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions and it does get a bit clichéd.
We must admit we let out a disappointed sigh when we learned that a creepy little girl with supernatural powers was involved, though there is an interesting twist tied to her character.
By the end of the game, we had a whole list of questions the game never really addressed, some of them pretty important.
- What happened to Lucas?
- Why were they kidnapping random drifters?
- Why does the Baker compound, which is a farm, have shadow-based locks and a freaking morgue?
- ..if Zoe’s infected, why’s she not all evil like her family? Also, how does she know where we are?
- *SPOILER, sort of* Wait, why is Chris Redfield with the Umbrella Corporation and why is their logo blue rather than red?
- Hang on, isn’t Ethan still infected?
Not very significant to new players, maybe, but pretty confusing to fans.
The game never really answers any of these and its pretty stingy with information about what is actually going on too. The reason behind everything is only revealed very late into the game in, by comparison, pretty long files. That information probably could’ve been spread out a bit better.
That’s not to mention the weird choice it gives you at the start of the third act. Without spoiling the nature of the choice, we’ll tell you that it doesn’t really make sense in the narrative and that even if you don’t pick the obvious choice, basically nothing changes.
In fact, it kind of makes the story worse as the game then basically teleports a character so that it can continue on with no clear explanation for how she got there.
As great as the atmosphere is, the story does shatter your immersion at times.
- The Lack of Variety
Both in the combat and the puzzles, you wind up doing the same thing a lot.
The aforementioned shadow-based locks return three times, in fact, with no change other than a different shape you have to match. Considering the fact that the puzzles are already fairly easy, this repetition isn’t exactly welcome.
Granted, the ‘happy birthday’ puzzle is awesome and we love how the game lets you practice it so you can break the sequence the second time. We wish there had been more puzzles like this.
What you do get plenty of is the Molded. There are only four variations, with the only real difference being health and movement speed. Sure, one walks on four lets and another spits gross goo at you, but that really doesn’t matter much in the end.
The shotgun is your friend, guys. One or two blasts will take care of most things apart from the fat Molded.
Yes, you’re not really supposed to fight anyway, but in those moments where it’s your only option it would have been nice to see some different enemies.
This is another part of the reason why we like the boss fights. At least fighting the mutated bosses involves new mechanics and weak spots.
- The Ending
While you can’t really call it an anti-climax, the very last parts of the game aren’t particularly interesting either.
The game gets increasingly linear near the end, until you wind up in a literal underground hallway with endlessly spawning Molded. That might sound challenging, but by this point you’re so loaded down with ammo and healing items that it really isn’t and you can still sprint past most of them.
No exploration, no puzzles, just a lot of running away and occasionally shooting something you can’t avoid.
The final boss fight is similarly easy. If you have grenade launcher rounds, just keep those coming and you’ll be fine. You probably won’t even take much damage beyond what you take through scripted events.
It really isn’t the final test of your skills it should be.
And there you have it, guys. We love Resident Evil 7 and we’re glad that Capcom’s choice turned out well, even if it has some flaws and questionable moments.
Do you agree with us, or did we miss something that was obviously great? Or obviously terrible, for that matter? Let us know in the comments below!