THIS IS NOT A MOVIE REVIEW
Even since the slippery downfall of the Resident Evil franchise, CAPCOM continued developing games to add to the franchise like Resident Evil 6 and Revelations 1 and 2, to name a few. And after the two unimpressive demos of the now Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, The Beginning Hour and Kitchen, the game is finally out and it’s not looking too bad.
First off, I’ll admit that when Kitchen, RE7’s demo following The Beginning Hour, was released, I was very skeptical, along with other fans who couldn’t seem to connect the demo to the Resi universe. My biggest problem was CAPCOM’s resistance to parting with the franchise name after numerous flops and disappointments since RE5. Especially since the demo itself had no solid elements that connected with the Resi universe, nor did it resemble a zombie apocalyptic survival horror game, not to mention there were no hot inhumanly strong protagonists police officers that every single Resi game entailed, but that was the least of my skepticism.
Come Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, (and its cleverly designed logo),
you play Ethan Winters who drives to a run down house (the same one from Kitchen) at a plantation in Louisiana looking for your missing wife, Mia. (To avoid spoiling any jump scare moments, I am sticking to just the gameplay and the game’s elements.) In its “beginning hour” or two, you pretty much circle the creepy house looking for clues and hidden tools to access said clues, all the while encountering some supernatural experiences. What follows the first couple of hours is what seems to be a gameplay of Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Evil Dead with a touch of RE5 — Completely abandoning the T-virus and mad-science-to-end-the-world concept, and our beloved characters from the classics, plus Jake. Perhaps its biggest and most obvious change, however, is its first- person perspective, a major change from its traditional third-person POV. Contrary to what Masachika Kawata, producer of RE7 said about the main elements of the Resi universe remaining present in this game, those elements were hardly noticeable apart from the map design,scavenging for items and the inventory, as well as little interactions with objects that were reminiscent of RE1 and 2; There were also a number of subtle references to previous games in the series throughout the gameplay which may easily go unnoticed if you weren’t too into the classics, but other than that, there weren’t really too much link this game to the Resi concept, or at least make a seamless connection to the previous games, especially since it was named after the original Japanese RE1, Biohazard. Although, those were major elements from the RE classics, they aren’t really anything unique from what we see in games in recent years. Aside from that, the dense atmosphere of the game, including the music, or rather the lack of, is one favorable improvement in the Resi series, delving back into the horror genre.
Although completely unrelated to the storyline of the Resi series, CAPCOM did follow through on its promise to reboot the 7th addition to the series with a more
survival horror theme over an action packed psycho zombie-not-zombie game that the series had evolved into in RE5. After all, according to Kawata, the horror element to the game is largely dependent on its players, he said in an interview with Yugatech, in the way their passiveness (hiding from enemies) played a role in the players’ survival. It’s also the psychological terror of feeling like you’re actually in the game.
Cleverly, with the popularity of the VR, the decision to release a first person survival horror/exploratory horror/psychological horror game should bring the game up the market because there are that many of us, especially the wimpiest of us all, who do want to piss our pants from fright. The gameplay even without a VR, consists of a lot of jump scares that will yank the Adam Levine out of you, and constantly turn your view over your shoulder in paranoia.
Still, there isn’t enough to this newest addition to really connect to the Resi universe, if anything, it is closely reminiscent to Konami’s canceled Silent Hill P.T. With the eerie confinement of a first-person interactive gameplay that will either jump scare you or psychologically terrorize you with paranoia, you’ll find much of the same elements in RE7. Though Kawata had clarified earlier on RE7 was already in development when P.T was announced and that the content of the two games were entirely different. Nonetheless, He did express his disappointment towards the cancellation of what could have been one of the most terrifying horror games to date, but whether there would have been a great distinction between the two, we’ll never know. Nevertheless, the game still offers itself to those of us who were blue-balled by the cancellation of P.T, and those who enjoy survival horror games, as a well-developed survival horror game with exhilarating jump scares, control design, and gameplay.
However, I did enjoy the Resident Evil series for its stories and characters which were big losses for me on this one. When fans complained about the series evolving into more of an action horror gameplay, I don’t think they were expecting RE7 to depart this far from the tradition of its predecessors. Even though RE6 was a disappointment to many Resi fans, it was still a nostalgic conclusion to the series with a well-rounded multiplayer character involvement. While the only directly relatable element or content to RE7 that connected it to the series was the “logo” (spoiler evaded) on the helicopter at the end, like that from the RE classics, basically plastered on the screen for a good 2 to 3 seconds and the referencing of previous games in the series through collectible items throughout the house.
Overall, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, albeit the lack of Resi elements which was a major let down, is a well-developed survival horror game, which CAPCOM did promise to follow through on. It will raise your blood pressure, make you piss your pants and screech in fright, but to name this loosely Resi-connected game as an addition to one of the most favored game franchise over the last 20 years did not hit my expectations of what Resident Evil 7 could have been, it felt like either lazy marketing or just a strong reluctance to let go of the past. However, I do conclude with a little more hope, especially with the twist at the end of the game, that if there will be a follow up to RE7, whatever loosely-connected concepts of this game will be ironed out in the future.