It’s that time again and Capcom has just released Resident Evil 7 on consoles and PC even with VR support for Playstation VR. However, is the game any good and worth a punt? Take a look at our spoiler free Resident Evil 7 review for the full picture.
Resident Evil 7 Review:
Today we’re taking a look at Capcom’s latest action horror game in the form of Resident Evil 7 which is available now on consoles and PC. Capcom’s Resident Evil 6 was met with mixed reactions when it released in October 2012 with its multiple character story-lines and scenarios and distinct change of pace for quite a large portion of the game. It was a bit of a gamble and divided gamers across the board. Fast forward to 2017 and once again Capcom are gambling with their Resident Evil formula. You can’t knock them for trying new ideas to keep the gameplay fresh that’s for sure. In Resident Evil 7 the gameplay presents a first person perspective as apposed to third person where the character can be seen at all times. This change of perspective (whilst nothing new for the franchise) changes how players perceive the world around them and somewhat gives the game a different flavour – again being somewhat divisive with fans where some are welcoming the visual change and others feeling it’s too far removed from Resident Evil tradition – but that’s another story.
Perspectives aside though, is Resident Evil 7 any good as a game because regardless of the presentation method it’s the core gameplay where it counts. Before this question can be answered though there’s another element brought to the table for the first time in the series which is rather innovative and exciting for players and that’s the inclusion of a VR mode using the Playstation VR headset. Obviously thanks to the game’s first person viewpoint VR is perfectly feasible way to play. So, this review has to be divided into two sections because VR is an entirely different ball game to playing on a 2D screen at 4K with HDR being used.
So, about the game. It’s Resident Evil for sure although during the opening hour or so the gameplay lends itself to more traditional first person horror experiences which are plentiful on PC at least. You’re stripped of weapons, you’re not presented as an arse kicking member of S.T.A.R.S and just seem like a man tracking down his wife who’s been missing for three years and suddenly appears to be alive again by way of a creepy video message. There’s elements of stealth, exploration of cupboards and drawers, the odd door puzzle we’re all familiar with now, all the while being hounded by a character who whilst not as imposing as the Nemesis in Resident Evil 3 shares some of its traits – such as being pretty much indestructible even after blowing him up where he still comes back for more. Yikes! It’s a creepy and testing opening and sets the tone well before you’re handed the first weapon proper (a handgun) where thereafter the game takes on a more traditional Resident Evil game style. The weapons don’t stop with the basics either with a tidy assortment on offer as you progress including all the usual suspects, and whilst there’s perhaps not as much fodder to gun down initially when they do “pop out” you’ll get a jump scare or two and easily react to take them down with composed headshots or limb hits that slow them down. It’s a fun game and fits well within the Resident Evil style of gameplay but the lack of enemies is a valid complaint despite the excellent use of a suspenseful foreboding atmosphere.
Once players have moved into the second hour and beyond there’s progression puzzles a plenty, item management, a few boss encounters and lots of running about in true Resident Evil fashion. There’s plentiful nods towards past games here for sure from Resident Evil 4 to Revelations although we’re not going to offer any specifics. As you play you’ll get a familiar sensation and most certainly feel like the game is an amalgamation of past glories rolled into a first person experience. It works, despite the last section of the story dragging its feet a little. Where the gameplay shines is thrusting players into various scenarios to keep the story gripping and gameplay away from any stagnation. It’s been cleverly designed to keep players on their toes. That said, there’s an abundance of ammo and in some cases there’s more scares from “what if” rather than what actually is – which isn’t such a bad thing on a first play.
The first person viewpoint really puts you into the shoes of the character and allows for a much more detailed look at inanimate objects, files and photos which when pieced together tells the story of what’s really happening beyond the underlying premise of rescuing your wife.
The game simply gels well thanks to some impressive visuals and excellent audio effects which are designed to keep players on their toes at all times. The music is subdued in favour of distant sounds or the ambience of a chilling wind outside, to sudden bangs from seemingly nowhere in particular. It’s pretty awesome especially if you’ve immersed yourself with a pair of noise cancelling headphones. The voice acting is also pretty good as well despite a number of cheesy lines the series is well known for.
Playing in 2D with all the bells and whistles provides an excellent experience and with things like 4K and or HDR being available is pretty special indeed. HDR gives the atmosphere a far greater perception of light and dark contrasts to the point where it notches up the spook factor quite considerably. Areas can be viewed as slightly oversaturated with light in some instances yet with HDR enabled those same locations look more realistically dark and foreboding. You can clearly see major differences in lighting and shadows with HDR enabled making the game look completely different when toggling the option on and off. However, the game takes on a new visual splendor when played in VR. Whilst it’s obvious there’s quite a hit in terms of visual quality, the fact you’re inside the game gives it a far more creepy feel. You’re essentially up against life sized opponents and despite carrying an impressive arsenal of weapons are left feeling vulnerable and out of one’s depth. You’re always made to be aware of what’s potentially behind you and due to the moody nature of the locales creates a tentative feeling before moving forwards or into the unknown – such as down those stairs into the dark basement. You’ll also feel a impressive sense of scale not only with the enemies but the rooms themselves. At times there’s some impressive viewpoints which really brings home the size of certain areas (again not offering any spoilers here). It’s a feeling that simply cannot be replicated in 2D and is the definitive way to play the game.
In terms of game length and replay value there’s a few things to be mindful of here. The core game can take up to 10 hours on first play depending on how thorough one is and what difficulty is selected. Subsequent plays can cut that time in half or more once you know what to expect. Sadly there’s not much in the way of unlockables and due to the strong narrative means there’s no extra characters to mess around with or skins (as you would expect from a first person game). There’s a few items you can gain to make the second play easier such as faster walking speed shoes and a more powerful weapon but the only real incentive is an extra tough Madhouse difficulty to test your skills. Once the end credits roll you’re treated to a teaser for an extra chapter in the form of free DLC “coming soon” in the Spring but this seems a bit of a cheap shot to not have it ready for the actual game release.
To conclude, Resident Evil 7 is a fun and exciting experience that’s brought to life thanks to the change of perspective and some fantastic visuals, accomplished gameplay and a dark and moody atmosphere that takes you through several familiar looking scenarios. It contains all of the ingredients fans of the series will be well versed in and serves as a neat addition to the franchise as a return to the roots of Resident Evil’s more methodical action adventure, with less focus on all out action as seen in the previous installment. However, it can’t be recommended enough that this game is played in VR if that’s an available option because as it stands this is one of a few VR experiences that actually offer great value for money and feels much more immersive being played in this manner, even over 4K and HDR visual elements afforded to the 2D offering. Whilst the game might lack much incentive to replay, the 10 hour first jaunt is probably enough and well worth experiencing for the asking price of entry.
Score – 9/10