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“Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” is the 24th game released in the “Resident Evil” franchise since 1996. (Courtesy of Capcom)
Before the launch of “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard,” there was a lot of concern from fans over the direction the series had been following, with recent titles focusing more on over-the-top action as opposed to the series’ staple of survival horror.
For those fans, this new entry brings a refreshing return to form, offering horrifying encounters, strange and intricate puzzles to solve, and an item/inventory management system akin to that of earlier entries in the franchise.
While the main campaign of the game may be shorter than some may be used to (usually around 10 hours or so for the first play-through), what is there is an incredibly terrifying and satisfying experience.
The game has players in control of Ethan Winters, a relatively ordinary man thrown into very extraordinary circumstances. After Ethan’s wife Mia inexplicably contacts him after being missing for 3 years, Ethan decides to investigate the Baker residence down in Dulvey, Louisiana.
As events unfold, Ethan ultimately finds himself in a struggle for survival as he is hunted by biologically altered creatures, working with limited resources while attempting to uncover the secret of the Bakers, Mia, and the dark history of the plantation he finds himself trapped on.
Aesthetically, nearly all aspects of “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” are executed masterfully.
Detailed and grotesque environments, paranoia-inducing sound design, a spine-chilling original soundtrack and a disturbing narrative come together to give the player a relatively scary and extremely unsettling experience. It’s safe to say that from the first door the player enters, they’re thrust into an incredibly uncomfortable and anxiety-ridden environment.
Each creak in the floorboards or pitch-black corridor observed warrants a freeze in progress, as the player takes a minute to take inventory of each possible exit and detail in case they need to run in terror. The first time the player witnesses any abomination to come skulking around the corner, the immediate instinct is always to flee.
In terms of gameplay, it’s exceedingly difficult not to compare “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” to some of the earliest installments of the franchise.
Though the first person perspective is something entirely new to main installments of the series, the design of the plantation itself, as well as how the player traverses it, clearly takes influence from “Resident Evil 1.”
Players will often find themselves sprinting from one end of a corridor to another, turning around to take a few pot shots at their pursuer, only to watch wide-eyed as their efforts achieve only in slowing down their imminent doom.
When brute force doesn’t do the trick or players simply burn through their limited amount of supplies, players will find themselves slamming doors and creeping into a dark corner of the room, their only tool left being hoping not to be found.
An emphasis on crafting is also introduced (though not obnoxiously relied upon), oftentimes forcing the player to decide whether health items or ammunition are more important to cram into their incredibly limited inventory space.
Strange and interesting puzzles also make a return, leaving the player often scratching their head, only to finally come to that satisfying “ah hah” moment when the often outside-the-box solution is arrived at.
As the game progresses, the player is granted more effective tools to use against the horrible abominations they’ll encounter, but said abominations are replaced with tougher and even freakier enemies, so overall it does not dwindle from the often high tension. Last but not least, “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” hosts quite a few boss fights, each interesting and different in their own way.
That being said, some shine more than others, with some fights offering a variety of ways to play out and be completed, while others offer a somewhat disappointing conclusion.
Despite these miniscule setbacks, “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” nonetheless offers a genuinely terrifying and of course very fun experience. Veterans of the series will find the title to be a refreshing return to form with some interesting twists, while newcomers will find themselves easily able to step into the role of Ethan, relatively unhindered by previous game continuity.
Completion of the game unlocks “Madhouse” difficulty, a mode that completely changes how one may play the game, offering a much more unforgiving experience.
If one is lucky enough to own a VR set for the Playstation 4, the game does offer complete support for the entire campaign (if you think you can handle it.) All in all, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a must for veterans of the franchise as well as diehard survival horror fans, and most definitely a strong contender for anyone looking to pick up a new and terrifying game.
Resident Evil 7 is available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC for $60.
Final Grade: A-