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Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Review (PS4)

Though sporting a new first-person camera and horror esthetic, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard proves itself to be a return to form for the long running series; making it the strongest entry since the revolutionary Resident Evil 4.

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard Review (PS4)

INTRODUCTION

It's no secret that the Resident Evil franchise took quite a dip in quality after Resident Evil 4.  After the disastrous Resident Evil 6, Capcom was looking for a way to bring the franchise back to its former glory. Thankfully, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard does just that. With the excellent atmosphere and sound design, along with a true return to form in game mechanics, Capcom has captured what made the original Resident Evil special in this brand new, yet familiar feeling package. While the game has faults, there’s no denying that this is the best entry in the franchise since RE4.

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard is available on the Playstation Store for $59.99

STORY

The story has never been the strong suit of any of the RE games; same could be said for the dialogue (Jill sandwiches, anyone?). But I can honestly say that both are pretty good in RE7. Its nothing too mind blowing, but it is an enjoyable tale. You play as Ethan Winters, a man who’s been searching for his wife, Mia, for three years. After receiving a mysterious video of Mia crying and begging Ethan not to come after her, Ethan sets off to the Bakers’ plantation in Dulvey, Louisiana to try and find his wife.

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard Review (PS4). Ethan trying to convince The Deputy to help him
Like I said, nothing too special at a glance.  But the farther you go into the madness that is RE7, more is revealed about why Mia went missing, who the Baker family is, and why everyone has seemingly gone insane. There are some very interesting twists and turns in the story, but for the most part, it stays pretty simplistic. However, its the characters that are the driving force of the game’s story. Admittedly, there’s not many of them, and you won’t be seeing any fan favorites of the series joining in the fun, but the characters that are here are interesting, heart-wrenching, and terrifying. This, of course, is complimented by the surprisingly good performances by most of the cast, and the well-written dialogue throughout.  

I think that most will enjoy the story, as long as you aren’t expecting it to tie into the Resident Evil universe right away. It eventually does show the player how everything is connected, but it comes very late in the game and isn’t really the best payoff for long-time fans. However, that being said, this makes RE7 very accessible for newcomers to the series. You'll find it to be an enjoyable romp, as long as you curve your expectations a bit.

GAMEPLAY

Resident Evil in 1st Person?

Now, this is where we start to step into touchy territory. The most obvious change here to traditional RE formula is the first person perspective you play in. Many fans were worried that, based on this change, RE7 would turn into an Outlast or P.T. clone. And, while you can certainly see some inspirations from both of the games, the first person never really felt off or out of place for me during my multiple playthroughs.  But if the camera is a big turn off for you old school RE fans, you’ll be glad to see just how many returning mechanics and features have returned from the older entries.

The Return of Item Management

Despite the new paint job, there are many returning mechanics that we have not seen in quite awhile from RE. For starters, the game is heavy on inventory management. There are very limited amounts of ammo and healing items in the game, meaning that every shot is crucial, and you should only heal when you absolutely need to. You also have very limited inventory space (at least at first), which also means that the famous item box is back. You’ll need to move things in and out of your inventory just like the original RE if you hope to survive.

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard Review (PS4). Item management is crucial to surviving the night
Combat

Combat is fairly simple: aim for the head, and run if you're out of ammo. You may notice that aiming down your sights feels odd, or maybe Ethan feels a little stiff when aiming. I admit that this was a little frustrating at first, but I eventually got used to this. Though feeling clunky, the sluggishness when you aim down your sights further amplifies the fact that Ethan has no combat training. Combat does suffer in some of the boss battles. Besides two that I can think of, most bosses in the game don't do anything too creative in terms of how they fight or how you defeat them. These fights can be intense, but the mechanics used just end up highlighting the worst elements of the combat.  

Puzzles

Puzzles in this game are also very hit or miss. On paper, puzzles coming back to an RE game is a very welcome change, but the ones in RE7 can hardly be called puzzles. The best type of puzzle is where you manipulate a wooden statue to match a silhouette, which will open a secret passage. These are fun and make you feel like you’re playing a classic RE game. But most other puzzles are either incredibly easy or unoriginal. For example, you can find pictures that direct you to hidden treasures. This isn’t very exciting, nor does it feel like you really earn the reward that you get.

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard Review (PS4). These puzzles are very fun, but they're also the ONLY fun puzzles in the game
PlayStation VR Functionality

It should also be mentioned that the entire game is playable from start to finish in VR. I was nervous when hearing this because I feared that the game would be gutted and limited just to make it playable in VR. I first played through the entire game without VR. On my second playthrough, I decided to take a dip into the game in my PlayStation VR to see if my fear was justified. I'm very glad that I was wrong: RE7 the best PlayStation VR game available today. The atmosphere and sound design of the game take you in completely when playing this way. The game actually becomes a bit easier as well. This is because you aim with your head rather than with the camera stick. This makes headshots way easier to accomplish, therefore making ammo conservation easier as well. However, movement suffers a bit when playing this way. You can only move the camera with your head, or by flicking the right stick to move 30 degrees at a time. Its definitely odd to get used to, but it does get easier to control the longer you stick with it.

GRAPHICS AND AUDIO

Graphics

RE7 is a twistedly beautiful game to look at. Most of the game has beautiful settings and set pieces; especially when exploring the Bakers’ estate. There are some areas later on in the game that don’t take place on the Baker estate, but they aren’t nearly as visually interesting. Characters and enemies are animated well, though sometimes the AI could make some of the boss characters move in strange ways. I encountered a bit of texture pop-in when playing (not sure if the Xbox One and PC versions have this problem as well), but it was never so bad that it took me out of the experience. The good visuals also help amplify the excellent sound design.

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard Review (PS4). The Baker estate is just as scary on the outside as it is on the inside
Audio

If there’s one thing RE7 excels at over anything else, it’s the sound design. Every small creek and faint footstep will make you stop for a second to try and find out where it came from. The game also knows when to simply not have any sound at all, letting the terrifying atmosphere do its job in scaring the player rather than having some sort of monotone music playing in the background, or a loud rise in music to that tells you to be scared. This, of course, is amplified even more when playing the game in PlayStation VR.

CONCLUSION

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard Review (PS4). Get used to seeing Jack's "handsome" face
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a fantastic entry in the Resident Evil franchise. Despite some gameplay issues, the ambiance and well-written characters and story push you through these problems. In my opinion, this is the best entry in the franchise ever since Resident Evil 4. If you’re a fan of survival horror and have been wanting to get into the franchise, RE7 is a must buy. And if you’re a long time fan that is angry with the changes that Capcom has made, I implore you to please give this game a chance. You will not be disappointed.

PROS CONS
+ Excellent atmosphere and sound design – Lazy puzzles
+ Well written story and characters – Odd VR control Scheme
+ Great visuals – Meh boss battles
+ Classic RE mechanics and gameplay
+ Full PS VR support
8
Great

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