The Attic: ‘Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’ Review – Minor Spoilers!
Welcome to The Attic, and a brand new family.
I don’t want to spoil too much about this game, but there will be some minor ones about locations, a couple creepy parts, and the enemies you face, so keep that in mind before reading!
The announcement and my history with Resident Evil:
Last year at E3 we were shown a trailer for an upcoming horror game at Sony’s press conference. I remember watching, in awe of this creepy old house, and from a first person perspective which I greatly prefer when it comes to the horror genre. This trailer had me breathless from start to finish, and no one was as shocked as I was when the title flashed across the screen: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I had been watching most of E3 live and was joined by some of the Enthusiacs over Skype. I remember feeling speechless, and finally exclaiming “noooo way!”
Why was I so shocked? Because, frankly, I have never been a huge Resident Evil fan. My first experience was playing the 4th one on PS2, and while I enjoyed it, the controls and boss fights were too annoying and I eventually ditched the game. I then played and finished 5 with a friend, and even though that was a fun experience, I HATED the many QTEs (quick time events), and still found the controls to be clunky and exasperating. I recently tried to play the remastered original, and again…I had my issues with it and couldn’t find the patience to finish the game. As time has gone on, the later games in the series were more and more about the action and less about the horror. So to have such a fantastic looking, incredibly creepy, horror game in first person view, I was floored. After finishing the game, I had to thoroughly review it for you all. Let’s break down my review into categories, shall we?
They brilliantly chose to release a teaser for us to play while we waited for the game’s release. This was such a fantastic idea, as it triggered the same fun people were having with PT. Terrifying, fun, and yet left us with questions as well as a few unusable items. Would that darn dummy finger ever serve a purpose? You’ll get that answer when you play the game. I really liked that they added updates to expand on this experience with new locations and content during the period from its release up until a month and a half before Resident Evil 7’s official release date. It kept us thinking about it, and talking about it.
They told us that the teaser would be an isolated experience and would not be in the game. They were right, in a sense, but I’m so happy that the locations were still in the game. Items were in different places, and the scares came at different times so it was still a very fresh experience. This was a unique and brilliant idea. I was even more on edge than I normally would have been because I kept waiting for the same things to happen. This also led to more effective jump scares when they did happen.
Resident Evil 7 does not simply rely on cheap in-your-face tactics to make this game scary. There were quite a few times where I almost jumped out of my seat due to wonderfully-timed jump scares, but the rest of the time there was a level of tension and suspense that had me so on edge. They struck a balance that only a few games I have played managed to do. I was so stressed out during this game because I never knew what I was going to experience.
A creepy old grandma in a wheelchair just showing up at random areas in the game. A terrifying family reminiscent of Texas Chainsaw that has superhuman levels of strength and resilience. This leads you to avoiding them at all costs, much like with Outlast’s ridiculously tough crazy inhabitants. The girl: can we talk about the girl, Eveline? She had such a Samara quality to her, and I got the worst chills whenever she was on screen or I heard her giggling. And Mia, I won’t get into details, but that chick reminded me of Regan herself at times…wow…absolutely terrifying.
This game’s story is very contained, as it is set on a single property and some surrounding areas. But the vast majority of it takes place within an old guest house, the dilapidated “old house” and of course, the main house. What we see in the demo is the guest house, and I was happy we get to spend quite a bit of time in there. The main house is much larger, and with numerous levels and “wings”, there are loads of things to discover.
I like that the game has you going back and forth between different areas to unlock more doors and get better weapons. This may sound repetitive to some, but as the story progresses, things will change a bit and the enemies will vary. I never felt tired of any location, in fact I found it refreshing to have a game set in this universe (yes, it is in the same universe as the others) but in such a contained way. I thought it was a genius way to really pull you into this horrifying story.
Yes, as others have asked me, this game IS set in the same universe as the previous Resident Evil games, but I won’t explain how I know that, because spoilers. Regardless, it does tie in nicely at the end, and it’s a pleasant surprise for skeptics. You play Ethan, a man who has gone looking for his wife, Mia, who he recently discovered is still alive after she went missing three years ago. He heads down to Louisiana where she claims she is, but he has no idea what horrors he is heading into.
Can he save his wife? There are some choices in the game that will determine how the ending plays out, and I liked that a lot. The ending was so incredibly good. Between the score playing in the background, and the voice over narration, it was incredible. I felt like I was watching the end of a movie. As the credits ran I found myself just sitting there, thinking about everything I had been through with Ethan, and it was such a powerful moment as a gamer to feel so connected to a story.
I finished Resident Evil 7 in just under 12 hours, but I know someone that finished it in 9. I would estimate that the average gamer would probably expect about 10 hours out of this game. I know that I took my time a lot, and even had some moments where I just had to stand there for a hot minute to get my heartrate down. Plus, I kept getting caught by Jack at one point so that took a lot of extra time just running away from him.
Controls and mechanics:
I said it before and I’ll say it again, I LOVE that this game is in first person. It made it so much more immersive than previous installments of the series, due to the fact that you really get to step into the protagonist’s shoes. When something jumps out at you or gets in your face, it really makes your heart skip a beat.
Also, one of my biggest issues of the previous games was the aiming mechanics. You couldn’t move your character while trying to adjust your aim at the same time, and personally I found this to be incredibly clunky and too hard to get over. Happily, this game threw that out the window! Aim all you want while walking, because that’s the way it should be in a survival horror game. No more wanting to throw my controller, yay!
I’m not really one to care as much as I should about sound design, but the second I stepped outside the main house and into the property at night, I was blown away. The wind was howling in my ears, and I was so happy I was playing with my headset on. It was the most amazing sound design choice. It is hard to explain how great realistic wind is, but when you’re playing a horror game, and you’re outside at night after a storm, it brings the whole environment together. I was suddenly even more on edge because I was worried I wouldn’t hear something over the sound of it. Very unnerving, and it played well against the quiet moments in the houses.
When you’re first exploring the guest house, there is a thunderstorm outside, and the sound of the rain hitting the windows was some of the best I’ve heard in any video game. There are countless fantastic bangs and creaks that add up to the creepy atmosphere, but what you don’t hear is sometimes as important as what you do hear. The decision to keep things quiet so often was a great move. We’re not hit with constant music in the background, and I found that to be a brilliant choice as well because it allowed you to really hear the little details. It kept me on edge since there weren’t too many auditory clues that something was about to go down.
QTE’s and boss fights:
When you think Resident Evil, you no doubt think of these two aspects. Boss fights do remain in Resident Evil 7, and at first I was bummed out due to my longstanding hatred for them. As I said before, I rage quit RE4 after I got stuck on a boss and just gave up. But in this game, they really aren’t too difficult. I think I only had to google some tips on one of them, which for me is great. Happily, one of my other least favorite things in video games disappeared completely: quick time events. Not a single one happens in the entire game, and that makes my heart sing. Nothing breaks the fun of a horror game like trying to time button-mashing like I’m playing Guitar Hero again.
There are probably more categories and experiences I could get into, but I gotta wrap this up. Unfortunately I do not own a PS VR, but if/when I do, this will be the first thing I try it with. I hope that some of my information and experience has given you a better idea of why you should play this game. Even if you’re not a horror fan, it is worth giving it a shot. It is so well done from start to finish that every gamer should experience it. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is superb, and a game changer in the horror genre. Thank you to the devs for delivering not only a return to its roots, but the finest installment of the franchise I have ever seen.