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Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Developers: CapcomTechnicolor Games Publisher: Capcom
24 January 2017
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard - cover art
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1,380 Ratings / 11 Reviews
#414 All-time
#18 for 2017
Ethan Winters travels to rural Louisiana after receiving a disturbing video message from his missing wife Mia two years ago and stumbles into a mansion only to discover that Mia has been infected by a strange disease and is held hostage by the deranged Baker family.
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There's a scene a few kills into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre where Leatherface has a tantrum by the window, visibly super anxious about these kids who keep coming into his house and won't just get in their van and drive off. He's not repentant or anything like that, but his stress is enough to show a crack in the surface of evil. Up until that point he appears as the grim reaper, quickly and with a sense of horrifying finality removing the kids from the realm of the living, like a full stop. Later still we come to learn that when he's not the embodiment of death, Leatherface plays the role of a caring mother sweating to keep her family together even if just for the duration a dinner she's lovingly prepared. Hooper's films are built with a stoned elasticity that means that as many complementary and conflicting things can be true or untrue about them as the viewer is willing to work for, and the appearances of the Sawyer family are no exception. Depictions of abuse within a family-unit for whom violence is so commonplace that it's as ritualised as a family dinner are the essence of that film as they are of Resident Evil 7.

We are made to witness moments of connection between family members, not so that we can excuse their behaviour, but so we can see that they belong to a unit in which they are functionally heinous. We come to understand them within the context of their world, whether this means pitying or just hating them more deeply than we would an abstraction. The family unit is taken for granted as a context for normalcy in the majority of narrative works that do not make family an explicit concern, but this is frequently upset in horror films. Something like The Witch looks at the oppressive nature of the nuclear family, but its break is gained too easily: the family in it is an abstraction, entirely without heart. Hooper's works and Resident Evil 7 on the other hand understand that to dissolve the glue is not a clean process. Regardless of whether there is genuine love binding any of the Bakers or Sawyers, violence will be present under love's guise.

An abuser is a master manipulator that works their way into the abused's body and soul. The abuser will convince the abused that they are everywhere, that they need them, that there is no escape. Hooper's works subject us to the idea of a potentially boundless horror, but also give us the bloodied tools to break out and expose it as pathetic, finite. For its first act, Resident Evil 7 explores the emotional ramifications and ambiguities of Hooper's best to excellent ends. It is a game that traps us, tortures us, makes us feel weak, but also demands that we fight our way out of it. The game has been celebrated by many as a return to form, and it narratively and mechanically emphasises itself as a return home for the developer as well. The original Resident Evil was most frightening for its clunkiness, for the way that instead of breaking immersion, frustrations encountered outside the gameworld made their way into the player's identification with the happenings on screen. Curiously, this new one is strictly in first person, emphasising that our return home must be viewed in terms of a new game body. We are trapped in our game body, and we are trapped in both a literal home, and the game body itself. To return home is to be trapped there.

There is much to be said about Resident Evil 7 as a first person game that works against conventional instincts. Where we might expect to transform into a digital body that can act and react with a speed and fluidity that easily transcends our own (particularly as parkour-ish flailing arms show no sign of disappearing from AAA games any time soon), Resident Evil 7 imprisons the player in a slow-moving body that is less a superhuman avatar than a kind of awkward cage. Immersion, it was at some stage decided, occurs as the player becomes a centrally privileged torrent of power rushing through an environment-as-playground, but Resident Evil 7 makes the case that a more chilling form occurs when the environment answers back: the world of the game encloses on our digital body, and our digital body encloses on us. Where in a typical action game the world arranges itself around the player, rendering itself for, but pretending not to see her (effectively performing as indifferent but also submissive), Resident Evil 7 makes us believe that there are all eyes on the player at all times. What is key, what is home, is this claustrophobic sense of mechanical friction between what we are and what we want to be.

That the player is encouraged to roam around and collect VHS tapes throughout the game makes explicit Nakanishi's appreciation of found footage horror movies, where a similar negotiation of power occurs. In found footage, the viewer is no longer detached from the world of the film, passively receiving images they can trust, but rather becomes 'grounded' in it, vulnerable because to see is to be seen, to take part in it. No concrete truth, no safety. At its most effective Resident Evil 7 exploits the rift between belief and knowledge, withholding information and providing ambiguous sounds and light effects such that the viewer fills in the blanks themselves. Its entire currency is unrealised, individually felt fears. It is in these paranoid minutes that we become participants in generating our own sense of terror, believing ourselves to be in hell where our new father Jack is controlling everything. Resident Evil 7 knows that whatever we imagine to be behind the curtain, whatever we believe caused the crashing sound upstairs, is far more frightening than anything the game could ever depict, because we are home where Jack sees everything. Some gamers will balk at the comparison, but the developers of Resident Evil 7 clearly learned a lot from Gone Home.

Not that it in any way flirts with becoming an outright art game- it is of at least two minds where suggestion and realisation are concerned, and Nakanishi ultimately betrays the conceit for a mounting silliness more Sam Raimi than Blair Witch. The Bakers are an invasive, shrill presence across the screen, and wherever they appear the game switches its shallow-focus subjectivity for a filmic kineticism that is critically withheld from us and the ability of our game body. The developers' decision to not gift Ethan with the movement capacities of his tormentors brings about moments of frustration that can break the spell of the game, particularly during boss fights, but it gives small fights the slow, lumbering inevitability of a George Romero film. This echoing of someone else's cinematic dread through mechanical unresponsiveness is a bold move, but one that is reflexively necessary. Friction, entrapment, terror, home.

Another notable game to make the player feel helplessly trapped in first person perspective was Bioshock, which similarly demanded getting to know an environment in shallow focus. That game was economical in the sense that it reused environments by backtracking us into tedium, but the level design here is more sophisticated. Resident Evil 7 is economical in that it might take the gamer body the same amount of time to get to the end of a hallway as it would Franklin in Grand Theft Auto to run the way through multiple houses. Every bit of peeling wallpaper feels like it matters enough to take note of, every section of the floor not carpeted feels like the difference between life and death: Jack hearing and not hearing our footsteps. Resident Evil 7 is designed to make the backtracking process feel radial, as though we are returning to the centre of something having learned more about ourselves, and about that which threatens us. We may be pathetic, we may throw the controller down in fear when something scrapes at the window as we walk past, but now we know that the noise upstairs was just creaky floorboards. They're not always watching us, they're looking for us, and that's a big difference.

Resident Evil 7 is most scary when we feel most mortal, and we feel most mortal when we're weighing up how a conflict will go, before we fail and our game body dies. There is invariably a use by date cooked into the game and its terror (it has to scale in difficulty, meaning more deaths through problem solving), but this occurs after the game's early climax: as the player for the first time leaves the house. We charge out, screaming, and we turn to the house that trapped us and tortured us, and we look for the eyes of evil and we can't find them. We see the house and it's just a house. We believed it was infinite, but now we can say 'I see you too.' The game trapped us in Jack's house, but now the stage set has collapsed, and we can see it was a tree banging against the side of the house, and the wind howling through the boards. We've traced the tracks to the cause, the real cause, and it's more and less than the man who told us he was in control of everything.

Later on the shadow of Jack lingers over us, the reminder of the power that he once had over us, but also of the family that perversely worked for him. The greatest gag in Resident Evil 7 is not the ultraviolence, but the fact that as a part of the Baker family we must close doors behind us to stop evil coming our way. Whether we like it or not, we will play by the family rules. Its most disarming moment is when the tenacious patriarch begins screaming 'You killed my beautiful wife!,' which, yeah, we did. It's mournful as it is bizarre, and also completely heartbreaking- the only time that its baroque catharsis works to echo its hesitant, freaked out steps toward freedom.

Unfortunately these distinct modes are otherwise never reconciled in the game, and in truth jumping back and forth between horrorshow grotesquerie and psychological fear eventually leaves us numb to both. When we come to meet Marguerite, our mother, the loudness of the game is amplified such that we're in a rush to defeat her, and as our inventory fills up we are left with two conclusions: either we're too well stocked, or we're going to have to play trial and error with our equipment. Either way it leads to action rather than caution, the antithesis of the first act. By the time we find Lucas, Nakanishi has toyed with so many horror formats that he figures he might as well throw in post-Saw torture porn too. At this point the game enforces trial and error, as we are well and truly too well stocked in arms and health to feel in any way threatened.

Resident Evil 7's need to contextualise itself within the franchise makes for a strangely anticlimactic final act, explaining the events we've witnessed within the larger picture of a catastrophic event. On the one hand this is frustrating because it doesn't matter, but on the other it works as a tragic eulogy for the Baker family, removed from the visibility of world events but nevertheless impacted by them. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre we understand how violence and family are inextricably bound, about how movements toward Big Agriculture have left rural families without their livelihood. Similarly the Event of Resident Evil 7 occurs outside of our experience of the Baker home but it leads to starkly visualised ills: the mould could be a blind rage over their way of life crumbling, it could be substance (Jack's implied alcoholism), it could be the cycle of generational violence suffered and inflicted by everyone in the family line. Like Hooper's works it is contradictory, complementary, and elastic: it took the director twelve years to release a sequel that made it clear that the Sawyers are everything mentioned before but also greed and evil itself, whereas Resident Evil 7 moves in the opposite direction, arguing for the family as victims. Eveline's own quest for family holds its deal of pathos, but the picture is more complicated, more human, when family itself is the subject of its scrutiny: Marguerite's southern hospitality loaded with the anger of going unappreciated, Jack's performative father figure saying grace and beating the shit out of his son at the dinner table.
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nostalghia 2018-11-02T10:50:17Z
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The Resident Evil series was in desperate need of a swift kick in the ass. The original three survival-horror games ran their course and made Resident Evil less effective, but the three action-horror games that followed eventually turned the franchise into a joke. The gaming landmark that was Resident Evil 4’s impact was sullied by two derivative successors who aped every aspect of Resident Evil 4 except for its sense of self-awareness. The tongue-in-cheek joke that Resident Evil 4 represented in the scope of the franchise had tumbled on itself, becoming that same joke in time. What was Capcom to do about their washed-up horror staple with many iconic titles under its belt? Was it time to hang up the Resident Evil IP and move on to greener pastures? They attempted this before which gave birth to the also successful Devil May Cry series, so perhaps this was the right course of action. Like in the case of developing Resident Evil 4, someone at Capcom put their foot down and gave the series another chance. Resident Evil is that franchise at Capcom that refuses to die like an old man who comes back after a series of strokes. Unlike that metaphorical old man, Resident Evil can be rebuilt to seem fresh again. What the developers generated with this strong persistence of faith for the franchise was Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (because Resident Evil is known as Biohazard in its native Japan, the title is inverted to Biohazard 7: Resident Evil there which is cute), the biggest example of retreading the franchise has ever done. Capcom saw it better to demolish the building they erected instead of making a new addition to it, scraping up pieces of the wreckage to form something new. Resident Evil 7 makes such a grand departure from the familiarities of the series that one might not be able to recognize it as a Resident Evil game. If the changes made in Resident Evil 4 were enough to upset and alienate the Resident Evil purists, then the stark deviation in RE7 is enough to make those purists wretch. While the changes Resident Evil 7 makes are more than obvious, it still retains the essence of a Resident Evil game in many ways.

To efficiently stray away from one’s foundation, it helps to take aspects from other sources of inspiration. Resident Evil 7 is anything but uninspired, taking influence from a plethora of horror media. The premise of Resident Evil 7 for example borrows from its fellow, renowned horror series Silent Hill, retaining that mutual swapping of ideas I’ve noticed between both franchises. Our protagonist Ethan Winters gets a peculiar video message from his wife Mia, who has been missing for over three years. Instead of heeding her wishes to forget about her for his own good, he drives out to her last known location to look for her. Sound familiar? Rather than Ethan traveling to the misty ghost town of Silent Hill, he ventures out to a series of houses on the most remote parts of the Louisiana bayou. The sun radiates on Ethan through the hanging branches of the cypress trees, but don’t be led astray by the sunny setting. The dilapidated house Ethan finds himself in does not absorb any of the light outside making for an eerie search for Mia. To his surprise, Ethan finds Mia just hanging out in the dingiest-looking basement seemingly unscathed. Mia however is not as unassuming as she initially seems as she reveals a newfound feral side of her akin to something of a meth head. She screams and gnarls her teeth at Ethan like a rabid dog and eviscerates Ethan’s hand with a chainsaw. Ethan tentatively shoots her to subdue her, seemingly disposing of his reason for being here in the first place. Ethan then gets knocked unconscious by a middle-aged man who is as malevolent as Mia and wakes up sitting at a dinner table held by restraints with the man and his family of cackling psychopaths under dim, horrific lighting.

Resident Evil 7’s other horror influences should seem readily apparent by anyone who is a fan of the genre. Its southern location, daylight setting, and dinner table sequence should remind horror fans of the iconic proto-slasher film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The big difference here is that Capcom chose to set RE7 one state over from Texas to its more humid, swampier neighbor Louisiana. This is possible because Louisiana is associated with a more spooky, macabre culture, or perhaps setting the game in Texas would prove to be TOO obvious. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre influence is obvious enough here to the point where it seems like it’s in tribute to the film. To their credit, the dingy, deteriorated country houses of backwoods Louisiana are a far cry from the comparatively foppish gothic mansions that make up the previous Resident Evil games. Even the third-world villages of RE4 look like a resort compared to the Baker properties. I don’t think this point of inspiration was just noticing that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a different tone and aesthetic from the zombie-outbreak influenced Resident Evil games to redefine the series. It’s not as simple as that. The developers understood that the effectiveness of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was in its gritty minimalism and quasi-realism. Many people say that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre looks like something of an old videotape they’d show in school due to its dirt-cheap budget. The film transcended the inevitable B-movie, grindhouse schlock it would’ve easily warranted by using its minimal budget to create a nightmare with tension so palpable that it could burst. People wondered for years if what they were seeing was documented footage of real psychopaths murdering teenagers and stirred up a lot of controversies. By 2017, people weren’t as gullible, but that doesn’t stop Resident Evil 7 from being effectively creepy with the same sense of gritty minimalism. The previous Resident Evil games had spooky moments, but Resident Evil 7 is one of the scariest games I’ve ever played.

One might ask: how can a triple-A, eighth-generation game have any gritty and minimalistic qualities? Did the developers compromise the budget to make it look cheap and blow the rest of the money on coke? No, because Resident Evil 7 looks spectacular. The calamitous rooms of the Baker’s property are as immaculate as they are grotesque, a sublime contradiction that works wonders for the game’s aesthetic. The game also has a silky-smooth framerate to boot, a pleasing aspect that should be expected from modern triple-A games. One might be skeptical how a game that has the frills of triple-A development succeeds in being dank, grimy, and retains a scare factor associated with gritty visuals. They might fail to understand that the crisper visual fidelity makes all of the filth of the set look even filthier. The player can discern the dusty nick nacks strewn about, the bloodstains on the furniture, and the strands of the supernatural mold that covers the walls of the house. Eerie lighting is present throughout which is quite effective at making every location even more creepy. The caveat is that sometimes the lighting is a bit too dim and it can be a challenge trying to see sometimes. The player can’t even manually turn on the flashlight, most likely so the player can’t interfere with the game’s intended lighting. Unfortunately, I can’t get creeped out by the faint lighting when I keep bumping into walls on account of not being able to see. It doesn’t help that the game’s damage mechanic involves the screen getting smudged with blood splatter. It’s like driving at night without being able to clear off the windshield. The game would’ve only gotten away without it being too much of a detriment on a triple-A budget in the HD eighth-generation of gaming.

Assisting the clear, albeit disgusting visuals of Resident Evil 7 are some new presentation mechanics never before seen in the franchise. These new mechanics are definitely influenced by games like Outlast, Soma, and other indie horror games that rose in popularity in the time between RE7 and RE6. RE7 even occasionally borrows the videotape perspective from Outlast, but there are more substantial aspects of influence here. This new crop of popular horror titles deviated far from the cheesy, action-oriented horror romps that Resident Evil became known for after RE4. Their gameplay was minimal, there was a bevy of jump scares, and all of this was experienced through the eyes of the protagonist in a first-person view. These games signaled a changing of the guard with horror games, and it was a much-needed change of pace. Resident Evil 7 followed suit and borrowed all of these elements, but it wasn’t to acclimate to trends or to provide jump scare material for Pewdiepie or Markiplier. Incorporating these minimal elements is a sign of self-reflection from the developers, realizing that the excessive nature of RE6 was its downfall. Resident Evil 7’s minimal tendencies are a reworking of the series just as much as the indie horror titles were a reworking of the horror genre itself.

The more minimal mechanics prove to work wonders at making Resident Evil 7 an effective horror experience. The first-person shift of perspective was a polarizing aspect for many Resident Evil veterans, but the game benefits greatly from it. Navigating through the tenebrous halls of the Baker property is much more tense and unnerving when the player has a restricted view of what could jump out at them at any time. This perspective also lets the player get a better look at the well-rendered details of the putrid setpieces, well supported by the HD graphics. The scare factor involved with this restricted perspective makes the player have to rely on the element of sound to survive. Music is absent through most of RE7 with door creaks, footsteps, and the sound of Ethan breathing setting a soundscape of creepy tension. This is until the player will come across something dangerous that a heart-pounding score will dynamically make an appearance. The music track will start way before the player knows exactly what is lurking in the dark, kind of acting like a sixth sense that signifies endangerment. When the fears do become clear to the player, the first-person perspective makes them all the more terrifying. The game plays with jump scares and uses the first-person perspective to make them jarring and uncomfortable. Most of the time they involve a member of the Baker family popping in on Ethan with their gnarly faces in full view. To keep them from seeming gimmicky and cheap like the effects of a 1950’s 3D movie, the game always prolongs the fright of the jump scare by making whatever jumps at the player a threat that the player must deal with accordingly. This happens on numerous occasions with several things, but the game’s pacing keeps all of these encounters effective.

Another page Resident Evil rips from the book Silent Hill is including a normal, everyman as a protagonist. Instead of the hunky, boulder-punching, window-diving, super soldiers that make up S.T.A.R.S, Ethan Winters is just some schmuck like Harry Mason and James Sunderland before him. He’s a bit of a blank slate and isn’t as ironically entertaining as, say, the overconfident one-man boy band soldier that is Leon S. Kennedy, but at least he isn’t as comically aloof as the protagonists of Silent Hill tend to be. His voice actor gives his character enough emotion, mostly with expletives given the situation, but not enough to where he ascends his faceless role (literally) as an everyman protagonist. It’s so the everyman player of the game can put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist, and I’d sure be breathing heavily and dropping f-bombs at what Ethan is up against. This is only to a certain extent because Ethan endures a bit too much physical abuse for a normal guy to withstand. Mia and the Baker family make Ethan their patsy. They sever his limbs, stab him with sharp objects, tear his flesh with their teeth and fingernails, and other means of maiming our poor, defenseless protagonist. I don’t think I have to say that Ethan only resists all of this pain due to video game magic, but all of the horrifying cuts and bruises he gets through his journey are still effective. His role as a protagonist fixes Resident Evil’s awkward fallacy of expecting the game to still be scary while playing as a roided out super-soldier. The player may not have the ability to endure the pain Ethan goes through, but his less-than-capable stature makes the horrors that happen to him all the more gruesome. This finally elicits a visceral reaction from the player that no previous game has ever caused.

This isn’t to say that Ethan is rendered defenseless against these horrors. The indie horror games that influenced RE7 to make the player run from everything they encounter would’ve deviated too far from Resident Evil’s combat. Even the moodier, slower-paced first three games had the player shooting at the undead fairly often. Combat in the first three games was meant to force the player to use their limited resources. The action was a focal point of RE 4, 5, and 6 in which a larger number of foes in a short period of time was meant to overwhelm the player, and RE7 obviously does not emulate this. For a game that deviates greatly from every other entry in a long-running franchise, RE7’s approach to action ironically recalls the series' roots. Combat in RE7 is intended to be minimal as Ethan only has a handful of weapons at his disposal. The knife, handgun, shotgun, flamethrower, and grenade launcher encompass a wide range of firepower, but the ammunition for all of these weapons is scarce. This is made even more so than the first three games because the enemies do not drop supplies like the fans might expect them to. The player has to strategize when to use their resources more wisely than any other Resident Evil game. RE7 plays with the combination mechanic the series has upheld since the first game, but the different combinations are more restricted. Chem fluids are strewn about to combine with items to make their properties stronger like combining different colors of herbs in the previous games. However, the player cannot stack green herbs on top of each other for a stronger health item. All items can only be mixed with a chem fluid and some of these items like the gunpowder and fuel cannot be used as ammo on their own. It can be frustrating to find a resource just to sandbag it in one’s inventory, especially since RE7 has reinstated the cramped inventory system from the first three games. Resident Evil 7 has found a way to surpass the scarceness of the first three games, making survival a more urgent matter than ever before.

Another aspect of RE7 that reminds me of the older titles is the layout of the area. For a bunch of backwoods yokels, the Bakers own an astounding abundance of land. Their guest house in the tutorial is a microcosm of the main house, a way to illustrate the general design philosophy of each area in the game. The area that utilizes the old Resident Evil design to the fullest degree is the main house which comes right after the opening sequence. It’s the Spencer Mansion of the south: a circuitously built, labyrinthian building complete with several rooms per floor and a series of different keys to open all of them. The main house is so large that it gives the player the impression that the goal of escaping it will be the main objective for the entire game, but it’s only a fraction of it as Ethan escapes to visit the old house and the testing facility on the same property. As I’ve stated before in my review of the first Resident Evil game, I love the Metroidvania type of design each area of the game presents. The design is just as thrillingly intricate here as it was in the previous titles. What strikes me here is how alarmingly similar it is to the layout of the first RE game. The developers translate the spacious design of a gothic mansion into a more humdrum, southern household without the setting seeming awkward or contrived. They translated the grand scope of the classic haunted house by making the layout seem like modern people could live there, albeit while having it as the health department’s worst nightmare. The design aspect of the areas is impressively Resident Evil, ironic considering this game which is supposed to deviate from it.

Roaming the halls of these ramshackle buildings are the main reasons to be scared of them: the enemies. The common enemies seen around the premise are referred to as “molded”: dark, stringy beasts with razor-sharp teeth and a ravenous nature. Imagine the regenerators from RE4, but with a more amorphous body entirely composed of veiny, fungal detritus. They are reanimated forms of the captured victims of the Baker family, regenerated by the abysmal conditions of their burial spots. There are three types of molded, but they all are defeated with the same precise methods involving headshots and with numerous knife swipes. The molded are pure nightmare fuel but unfortunately, the initial scare factor involving these beasts runs thin due to their sole role as the only enemies in the game. The wasps surrounding the old house hardly count as enemies. The oversaturation of the molded results in too much familiarity to stay afraid of them, and potentially wasting ammo by killing them gets irritating.

Fortunately, the Baker family are the real stars of the show and eclipse the wearisome presence of the molded. The harrowing dinner sequence that introduces all of them gives the player a perfect sense of their family dynamic. They are all boisterous, foul-mouthed, deranged psychopaths who instill their morbid sense of merriment on their unfortunate guests. They all act individually with their presence encompassing one of the three main areas of their property. The patriarchal head of the Baker family Jack throws Ethan around the main house like a ragdoll, calling him a sissy with a delivery that sounds like it’s straight from Deliverance. He relentlessly stalks Ethan and jumps out at him from all corners, providing the best of the jump scares in the game. Ethan avoids the creepy Marguerite in a stealth section in the old house. I won’t spoil anything, but her boss fight is one of the most monstrous and harrowing bosses I’ve ever fought across all games. Lucas “Jigsaw” Baker mans the testing area and will put Ethan through a series of savage tests and games, making up his own rules to them as he goes. The Baker family are certainly entertaining and effectively scary as characters, but I wouldn’t say that they are great “enemies” from a gaming standpoint. The illness that has beset all of the members of the Baker family has made them virtually indestructible, and Ethan can only deter them with his firepower instead of vanquishing them. That is until the game decides to suddenly make these impenetrable foes boss fights after running away from them for periods of time. Because of the seamless cutscenes, it’s hard to tell when the player is catapulted into a boss fight and should use their resources to bring them down. This confusion trapped me a couple of times and I died as a result. I felt like it was more because the game failed to provide clarity for me and less of a factor of my skill.
There is another member of the Baker family, but this one comes in peace. Zoe Baker, the daughter of the family, assists Ethan by giving him pointers through a series of antiquated longline phones throughout the property. She has Ethan scrounge up ingredients to a serum that she believes will cure her, her family, and Mia of their supernatural ailments. Using this serum becomes a catalyst to the controversial last third of the game. After having to use one of the serums to defeat Jack’s abominable final form, Ethan can only use the other serum on either Mia or Zoe. Even though the canon choice is to pick Mia for obvious reasons, I chose Zoe because I was still a little miffed about what Mia did to my hand in the guest house. Whichever person you choose, most of the events of this portion remain the same. It is revealed that the cause of the sickness infecting the Bakers is due to someone named Eveline, a girl with supernatural powers and a wide malevolent streak. If the player chooses Zoe, she still dies when Eveline attacks them while rowing a boat on the water. Ethan is captured and it’s up to Mia to rescue him. Through playing as Mia in this portion, Mia probes the wreckage of a ship and her former role on it. Mia was part of the operation that created Eveline and the tanker capsized en route to a containment unit. Mia saves Ethan from succumbing to the same fate as her, but the route I chose resulted in Ethan having to kill Mia. Ethan then takes a toxin made from Eveline’s DNA through the salt mines to kill Eveline. Ethan comes full circle to the guest house and injects Eveline with the toxin. She then reverts to a form of an elderly woman, a familiar apparition that has appeared frequently in the game. She transforms into a giant monster which Ethan takes out with a superweapon (not a trademark rocket launcher). A rescue helicopter comes with the pilot reminding everyone that this is a Resident Evil game and Ethan either comforts a wounded Mia or introspectively ponders as he leaves the site of the Baker properties.

After being treated to the wonderful pacing of the first two-thirds of the game, all of that blows out of the window during the final section. The tanker and the salt mines can’t be expected to be as scary as any of the Baker’s properties, but salt mines feel like a scrapped area from one of the action-oriented games. The linear trek with tons of molded on the trail felt like the developers were rushed and had to half-ass the finale of the game. What’s even more indicative of this is the final boss of Eveline. The mammoth-sized, hideous beast that Eveline transforms into results in an anticlimactic, borderline interactive cutscene. It’s the most unsatisfying way to cap off any game. While this last section is underwhelming in terms of gameplay, the story of Eveline and her role in this madness is still interesting. The sequence where a vision of Jack calmly giving Ethan support and claiming that his actions were not of his volition almost made me feel sympathy for him and his family, something I never expected after perilously running away from him all this time. They are just victims of circumstances under the control of an uncontrollable bioweapon in the shape of a little girl. Strangely enough, the game makes me feel sorry for Eveline too. She’s still a scared little girl with some serious abandonment issues, which is why she refers to Mia as her “mommy” and why she created the Baker family in her image. This is why she wants more guests to the Baker residence and crafts them in her image too. All of this makes Eveline a villain with layers of substance. As for Eveline being an old woman, I can’t make heads or tails of that. Ultimately, I chose the wrong girl to cure as choosing Mia is the only logical route for the story and Ethan’s motivations. It didn’t affect the events of the story too much, but I should’ve known better.


The long reflection regarding the status of the Resident Evil franchise turned out for the best. The developers slammed on the brakes and realized that if they kept making the same mistakes that resulted in repeating Resident Evil 6, they would’ve bankrupted the disputable king of horror franchises. Fortunately, there was a goldmine of inspiration at the helm of Resident Evil 7’s production to rework the series. Their influences seem to be evident: the gritty, humid aesthetic and atmosphere of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the videotape minimalism of horror games like Outlast. While these influences seem to deviate from the established tropes of the franchise on a surface level, the game makes a point to appease seasoned players by masterfully translating elements of classic Resident Evil like the area design and progression into the game. All of this culminates into an unrelenting nightmare of an experience. Even when the last third of the game crumbles, most of the game is still substantial enough to stick in the minds of the player. I imagine a handful of the Resident Evil’s purists were dissuaded by many of the new elements presented here to reinvent the franchise but if they still decry Resident Evil 7 as an “improper” entry, they obviously haven’t taken the time to play it.
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Erockthestrange 2022-01-20T23:15:04Z
2022-01-20T23:15:04Z
8.5
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Play this game in VR if you dare.
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6/10 Made me desire the sweet slumber of death
Like many games of its genre, Resident Evil 7 shows the potentially disenchanting nature of death in a work that is supposed to make you feel fear for your life. One moment, you curse yourself for playing this game, utterly begirt in terror, so close to death while your subconscious fails to recognize the mere virtuality of your precarious situation -- only to be reminded of it when you are given the chance to start again, to live again, from a slightly earlier point in the game. Your "death" did not matter. Not just that, the fear its preceding moments evoked was unnecessary. There is no reason to be scared of the Baker family and the monsters on their property when all they can do is put your progress back a few minutes. It's kind of the opposite of Heidegger's concept of Being-toward-death if you think about it.
I can certainly imagine that others had a different experience, but personally, I ended up treating Resident Evil 7 like most other horror vidya. Not as games that genuinely evoke horror, but as having a setting whose atmosphere communicates darkness and mild tension, and gameplay that still allows for feelings of accomplishment. And the game works quite well under this premise! Unlike other first-person horror games like Outlast (which may seem like an adequate object of comparison at first glance), you can and must fight back in order to progress. There are even some short moments of pathos in this otherwise gloomy world, such as a hard-earned victory over one of the bosses, whose sturdiness just adds to the satisfaction of finally defeating them (and it really does take a lot to bring them down for good!). Supplies for your survival are still limited though, so firing at every enemy you come across shouldn't always be your ideal strategy -- if the game was better designed. Often enough, the main enemy type ends up blocking the way in a manner that forces you to pump tons of bullets in their slimy bodies. A stealth system for these situations is also virtually nonexistent, although the Molded are almost completely incapable of hitting you when you crouch very close to them, which must feel very awkward if you were to take this game seriously (- I hardly did). There is some stealth in the End of Zoe DLC, but it's ridiculously easy and there are only three short instances where it can actually come into use.
My main problem with the combat however is the adaptive difficulty. Resident Evil 7 changes certain variables according to how well you are doing in the game; and if you didn't know that already, then sorry for ruining your experience with this game. Remember the beginning of this review? Where I said that you are only mildly punished for your in-game death and thus don't have to be scared of it? Well, RE 7 actually goes even further. Death is a reward. Not in a clever-execution-of-nihilistic-theme kind of way, but more in a bad-but-interesting-design-choice kind of way. If you're frustrated because the difficulty increased automatically from you doing well in this game, just die a couple of times and you'll take less than half as much damage, just to mention one of the buffs you are awarded for repeated failure.
I get why the developers thought of this as a good idea. One of the biggest problems a game designer faces is the fact that a skilled player is almost always getting more rewards than a less skilled one. If you survived the fight with full health and tons of healing items left, you will be better off for future encounters than a player who barely survived and used up all their healing, even though they would need it much more than the skilled player. This is a very nasty feedback loop. Games like Pathologic 2 even amplify this effect by punishing you for every death instead of helping you prevent it in future situations. Mechanics of this sort are a middle finger toward those who aren't good at video games, and Resident Evil 7 decided against this gesture. It might've even worked out in a world where information on such mechanics isn't easily available on the internet (i.e. where you might not become aware of them if you don't pay attention while playing). But we do live in a world where this is the case, and as such I will continue to prefer the finger to semi-intentionally dying in a game because I'm annoyed that the enemies eat so many bullets (which I'm involuntarily responsible for by not dying enough). It is, after all, a very natural impulse to work toward making things easier for yourself, especially when you know there is no downside to it.
To finish things off, maybe a few words on the story. After all, my review has taken a somewhat negative tone thus far and there has to be something that justifies my three-out-of-five rating. So, is it the story that saves this game? Well, not really. It is great at setting up mystery boxes. There's tons of interesting stuff they could've done with what they had. I myself crafted several theories about the psychic background and motives of the family as well as what had happened on their property before the truth was revealed. Unfortunately, the truth wasn't as interesting. Moreover, it doesn't really explain all the stuff you see while playing the game. Stuff that was apparently just there to scare you or evoke a sense of mystique. In other words, the game favors style over substance.
So, if even the story of this game doesn't impress, why do I still give it a decent rating here? It may sound awkward or dull, but there's just something about it that works. When regarded holistically and not through a lens of concrete criteria that focus on its individual aspects, Resident Evil 7 emits a subtle but undeniable charm. I don't consider the ten hours I sunk into it wasted, or at least less so than with most other vidya. My experience with it wasn't monumental, but memorable. Not least because no other game made me find comfort and confidence in virtual death before. And who knows, maybe you will remember this game for that too, now that you have read this.

if anyone even bothered to read this. i honestly just felt two short bursts of inspiration to write a review and didn't want to clutter up my notebook
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mittelmaessigexistent 2021-11-07T22:12:39Z
2021-11-07T22:12:39Z
3.0
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Is it the best Resident Evil game? No.
Is it the scariest Resident Evil game? Probably.

Atmospherically, Biohazard's opening hours are brilliant - you're weak, scared and an abnormally strong old man is on your trail. It's terrifying. That's not to say that the rest of the game isn't scary, but nothing ever compares to the initial mystery of the Baker family.

Despite a final act that's strung out too thin, Resident Evil 7 is a chilling and fun return to form for a franchise that desperately needed it.
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Refreshing variation for a "Resident Evil", poor gameplay for a AAA
Resident Evil's take on first-person horror games. As with most recent entries in the franchise, the gameplay feels a bit too clunky for a AAA game, but at least I liked the "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" reminiscent atmosphere. Except for a few gameplay dynamics like the puzzles and keys, the game departs from the standard "Resident Evil" formula, even though more familiar vibes are brought back during the last few hours.

Fighting enemies on harder difficulty settings gets frustrating incredibly fast due to the small variety of "molded" and their ridiculous resistance to our bullets. Combine this with the scarce ammo and you will end up running away from the same monsters countless times. Despite having a few different areas to explores, it's always the same enemies and the same puzzles all along.

There are many scenes and situations that are clearly designed for VR, but I ended up playing traditionally as moving around caused me motion sickness in less than ten minutes every time. In the end, it felt like you would miss a lot without your VR set, but it was just impossible for me to keep playing.

Overall it was an interesting variation for a franchise that has grown stale over a decade ago, but the gameplay needs a lot of brushing up. Scripted sequences aside, it almost felt like an indie game.
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manicure 2021-07-18T03:01:32Z
2021-07-18T03:01:32Z
55
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If someone told me after Resident Evil 6 came out 5 years ago that Resident Evil 7 would be a first person game where you were fighting a pissed off redneck family in Louisiana and it wouldn't have any of the characters from the other RE games and the story would be completely unconnected, I would have thought it was a big joke. I played RE 6 not long after it first came out with my friends roommate in Co-Op and it was a horrible mess with an awful story, continuing to further degrade the characters and make them into bigger jokes, and the gameplay was more generic 3rd person action with almost no sense of horror or difficulty. At E3 last year, RE 7 was introduced and many people didn't know what to expect, especially since it was showcased in the VR segment and at first I almost thought this game would just be a Virtual Reality game. I ended up renting this from my library a few months back because I heard decent things about it and I'm a huge Resident Evil fan, 4, Remake and 2 are among my favorite games of all time, possible all 3 being even my top 20.

Now credit where credit is due, this game manages to fix what was wrong with Resident Evil 5 and 6 and hell even 4 to an extent. Resident Evil forgot it was a horror game for a while and the last true survival horror Resident Evil game was probably 0 back in 2002, since then the series has degraded into an action shooter with almost no horror elements and they did the whole on rail shooter game crap with the Umbrella Chronicles series. Resident Evil has been a big mess for the past 10 years, basically since 5 came out and the series was in need of a serious reboot or at least reworking. The story was getting too convoluted, the classic characters that we all loved since the first game were all turning into unrealistic action heroes and after Wesker died off the series didn't even have a badass villain. So RE 7 decided to say to hell with it all, lets scrub this mess we made of the series and start fresh, new characters, new concept, new perspective, and lets forget all the over the top action bullcrap that ruined the series. Now we're back to a scary mansion-like house and having limited ammo and having to worry about saving since dying in this game forces you to go back to the last save.

I actually thought the first half of this game was very well done, you have almost no ammo, there is a psychopathic family who can appear at almost anytime and chase you down until you evade them, weird claw monsters that can mess you up if you aren't prepared, and of course brutal boss fights that consume tons of ammo and resources to beat. However like a lot of games, I feel the game mostly focused on the first act where you are in the house and once you leave the house area you go to a barn where the game then becomes more focused on avoiding trap wires and solving puzzles, one of which I admit, is pretty cool and a little scary. The final quarter of the game is pretty bad, it rivals RE 5 awful at times, the game basically becomes an FPS where you are given a machine gun and then you gun down tons of enemies. The last segment of this game where you go into your wife's past and then go on to the final area to the final boss is just so different than the rest of the game, it throws tons of enemies at you, gives you tons of ammo, and basically says go nuts we know you've been wanting to do this from the beginning. Plus there are many moments in this final segment where they throw many difficult enemies and you die because of how many there are. Up until that point the game was pretty fair and enemies weren't that common outside of maybe 1 or 2 areas, but then the game decides to just throw everything at you in the final act. The final boss is horrible and basically impossible to fail, its more a story fodder boss, then the ending sort of has a bit of a cliff hanger. I mean the story isn't awful, but I feel things get a bit convoluted and it tries to keep things mysterious for a sequel or DLC to explain. So at its core RE 7 is a good game, even though it is a tad short and has a horrible final few hours, and it brings back the feeling of horror, and even with the lack of enemy variety or design variety, it still has many good moments and brought back feelings of when I first played the classic Resident Evil games. Sure this isn't on the same level as the classic games, but its a step in the right direction and with a stronger final act, more enemy variety, and a more focused story, it could actually have been a really great game.
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jweber14 2017-07-21T19:57:05Z
2017-07-21T19:57:05Z
3.5
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weston69 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-12-04T04:07:47Z
2022-12-04T04:07:47Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
renehawt Resident Evil 7 Biohazard 2022-12-03T18:04:01Z
Windows
2022-12-03T18:04:01Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DuwG Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-12-03T11:58:46Z
2022-12-03T11:58:46Z
3.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
PsychoAct Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-12-03T10:13:37Z
2022-12-03T10:13:37Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
bejesus Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-12-03T04:47:15Z
2022-12-03T04:47:15Z
77
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Capcom Technicolor
EmilHansen153 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-12-02T00:49:56Z
2022-12-02T00:49:56Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Exidia Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-12-01T20:02:16Z
2022-12-01T20:02:16Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
meadowforever Resident Evil 7 Biohazard 2022-12-01T19:34:09Z
Windows
2022-12-01T19:34:09Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dakotadsmith Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-12-01T04:36:15Z
2022-12-01T04:36:15Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
lunsdemon Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-11-30T15:20:54Z
2022-11-30T15:20:54Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SpaceCowboy3 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-11-27T07:18:09Z
2022-11-27T07:18:09Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Isracast Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 2022-11-27T02:05:20Z
2022-11-27T02:05:20Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Resident Evil VII
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Note: Unlike reviews, comments are considered temporary and may be deleted/purged without notice.
  • Previous comments (49) Loading...
  • m_crowley 2022-07-21 16:06:10.400109+00
    this game is a love letter to american horror movies
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  • GioOrlando322 2022-09-05 15:36:52.598358+00
    Resident Outlast
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  • packtsardines 2022-09-10 07:26:11.566712+00
    honestly this may be the hardest game of the series for me. replaying it currently and i forgot how daunting this game is.
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  • packtsardines 2022-09-14 03:44:59.747131+00
    yeah second play-through slaps. great game
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  • jdgardenback 2022-10-21 05:31:20.808755+00
    The first two-thirds of this game was incredible RE. It kind of tails off once you hit the ship, but it was still enjoyable the whole way through. Great game, quite unnerving.
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  • TheRealJimMorrison 2022-11-12 21:31:33.536285+00
    NICE CAR ETHAN
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