A well “molded” review of a great horror game
It takes a lot to make me buy a game brand new. Games are very expensive and I do not have a lot of money. Yet, the new Resident Evil, titled Resident Evil 7, was probably the only game I bought brand new since Metal Gear Solid V was released two years ago. Inspired by watching the amazing announcement trailer, stellar reviews on release, and a demo that intrigued me when I played it, I had an urge to purchase it. So, after debating with myself for days on end, I eventually decided to cave in and buy it. With co-Editor in Chief and roommate Luis Gómez staring at me from afar with a healthy mix of judgment and disappointment, I stood in line, clutching the game in hand, still mulling undecidedly over the decision I was in the process of making. With each step back to my apartment from the store post-purchase, regret filled me. However, after putting merely an hour into the game, my trepidation was squashed. It was so good.
Now, I am not a huge horror fan. I actually detest horror movies, as I have never found them entertaining or interesting. This can also apply to horror games, as I never really actively sought out playing any of them. I do enjoy watching others play horror games, but I never thought I would enjoy playing one myself. Welp, I was wrong. I was so wrong. It is not even that I am a fan of horror when I thought I was not, it is just a really well-designed game.
Resident Evil 7 is just fun to play. Despite the switch to a first person viewpoint, it still feels like a Resident Evil game through and through. It’s meant to have echoes of the first game, and they hit it out of the park. Spooky location, limited movement, item scavenging, safe rooms, scattered enemies -all the hallmarks of the OG Resident Evils. The first couple of hours are a little more linear, seeming to be more like a modern horror game, with scripted encounters and unbeatable enemies you have to sneak past. But then, once you get to the first safe room, old RE vibes start seeping through. This, followed up by when you finally open the door into the main hall of the Baker mansion, a realization hits. This is Resident Evil. By the halfway point, the game goes full blown Resident Evil 1, as the unstoppable Bakers (the primary antagonists, a Texas Chainsaw-esque family who are unkillable and nuts) are switched out as the primary threat with faceless, black-ooze creatures called the molded. These molded act as basically the classic zombies, and eventually they scatter throughout the house. With this, the puzzle solving, the side items, optional objectives to get specific items, it just feels like a classic Resident Evil through and through. Every time a successful headshot is pulled off, it’s incredibly satisfying. The enemies are intimidating, every time I successfully deal with one it seems earned. In general, each encounter is harrowing, with a sense of present danger throughout, and a sense of elation upon completion. Whether it is sneaking past Jack Baker (the family’s patriarch and one of the game’s villains), fighting through a basement swarmed with molded, burning through a bug filled house with a flamethrower, solving SAW traps, wandering a cold dark abandoned ship-each of these moments are great, well designed, and different from each other. None of the sections run on too long. In fact, I’d argue some sections could have been much longer (we could have used another trap-puzzle or two to solve). Even the boss battles are different from each other, with each one managing to have a distinct way to beat them. As well, these boss battles help provide a sense of classic Resident Evil, right at home with previous games’ boss encounters.
The writing and atmosphere is standout in this game. The locations explored are spooky, yet also appear lived in, that it is still actually a home and not just a horror house. This is especially noticeable as the Baker’s mansion is cluttered with items which echo a life before the Bakers’ evil manifested, showing them to be more sophisticated than their current composure. Even the ridiculous puzzles all around the house are explained later on, and make a degree of sense in context. The characters are well written, and not boring. Every character is fully fleshed out, with unique personalities. The stand out is patriarch Jack Baker, who is definitely the best character in the game. I do not want to spoil too much, but his final talk with you at the end draws up a surprising amount of sympathy for him and the rest of his family, giving an unexpected personal stake in the climax. Some characters could use more fleshing out, such as the main character Ethan, who is boring and flat in comparison to the rest of the colorful cast. Yet as a whole, the writing for all the characters is surprisingly great.
Resident Evil 7 is an amazing game. I had a lot of fun playing it. It was spooky, but at least for me, I was not terrified. The only times I was startled were usually when my roommate (who watched me play the entire game) would scream at a jump scare. Do not be afraid to pick this up just because it’s a horror game, because it is also just great. I completed it in the span of 5 days, and I am planning on a second play-through on the tougher Madhouse mode. Go out and buy it, seriously.