In recent times, the Resident Evil series had been in decline. It started taking more of an action-oriented approach, but in the process became like any other third-person shooter, and it lost what made this series special in the first place.
Resident Evil 6 was panned by critics and fans, and sales weren’t great for it either, so Capcom had to do something to overturn this slide. Thankfully with this entry, they’ve returned Resident Evil back its roots, and at the same time kept it fresh with a new first-person perspective.
But wow has this series returned to form, and as a long-time fan, this made me so incredibly happy!
Previous protagonists of the series no longer take centre stage for this game (sorry Chris, Jill, and Leon fans), you now play as the faceless Ethan, a man in search of his long-lost wife Mia and must travel to Louisiana to find her.
Your search has led you to a seemingly abandoned house which you soon discover is home to the creepy Baker family. But these aren’t your ordinary hillbilly residents, as they seem to be infected with a virus which has made them very violent and deranged, but also given them regenerative abilities and super strength.
Even though you control Ethan, I would say the Bakers are the real stars of the show. Jack is the father and the patriarch of the family. You’ll encounter him more than the other members in the family. He’s not afraid to be as brutal as possible to make you suffer.
Then there’s Marguerite- the caring mother who just wants to feed you with her huge feast of disgusting entrails, intestines, and who know what else! Her screeching voice is a sound that’ll haunt you well after you’ve finished the game!
And finally the son Lucas, the creatively thinking young man who takes a different approach from his parents. Rather than take you head on, he’d rather have you struggle through his tricks and traps, all while watching you from afar.
Every encounter with each family member, whether it be in a cutscene or boss fight, is always a memorable one.
Resident Evil VII has thankfully ditched the action-oriented approach of the recent Resident Evil games, and has gone back to the exploration and survival approach of the earlier games. This is what made them great and I really hope Capcom stick with this formula from now on. Conserving bullets is a must as enemies don’t drop them and you can’t simply buy more if you run out.
You can craft more, but even those materials are limited. The same goes for health items, as you’ll want to save as much possible for boss fights and tougher enemies later on. On the Easy and Normal difficulties, you won’t have too much of a problem, but on the hardest difficulty it’s a different story altogether.
Speaking of going back to being about exploration, this game delivers, but maybe not strongly as the previous games in terms of key items and puzzles. There’s a lot to find and pick up but it is mostly ammo, health, and crafting materials. There is the occasional puzzle here and there, but I do wish there were more.
Another major change is its shift to the first person perspective. This allows for more immersion which also increases the fear-factor too. Seeing through the eyes of Ethan really makes you feel like you’re in that creepy house, and it’s certainly not a house you want to be trapped in! It’s dark, messy, moldy and cramped.
Not being able to see all around you, unlike the previous games, really fits in with this style of horror. It also makes it more difficult to take down enemies because you’ll need to aim at specific body parts. With previous Resident Evil games you simply need to aim in their general direction to kill them.
To me, this is definitely the scariest Resident Evil game ever. The setting for this game is also unique to the series, and looks and feels more gory than ever. You never know what’s around the corner, and even if there’s nothing there, the game’s atmosphere creates so much tension you can’t help but get scared.
Combined with the fact that you’re very vulnerable and can’t mount too much of an offense really raises the tension even further. The game does a great job of playing with your mind too, with constant little sound effects like footsteps and banging sounds, it makes you think something is there when it’s not.
There’s not too many enemies in the game compared to the previous games, but this makes every encounter more scary because they are tougher and take more bullets to kill. But being a survival game, bullets are rare and you have to make them count!
This series is known for containing many zombies coming after you, but this game has a more unique type of foe, besides the Bakers that is. Known as the Molded, these enemies come in multiple shapes, but most of the ones you encounter are human shaped.
There’s not much to them in terms of how they look. They’re all strange, skinless dark coloured beasts and can come out of the ground, walls, and large piles of the mold that they’re made out of. I do wish Capcom made each type of molded look more distinct from each other, other than just their shape. They’re surprisingly tough- both in offense and defense.
You’ll need to aim at their limbs if you want to stop them with minimum bullets. Facing more than one at a time could spell trouble. There is an annoying section involving them about a quarter of the way through the game which was a massive difficulty spike and something I wish Capcom addressed before the game’s release (or patched out).
Anyone who has played this game should know what I’m talking about, but I won’t mention for spoiler reasons.
Like all the best Resident Evil’s, they have great replay value, as I can play them over and over throughout the years and never get bored of them. This game is no exception!
I put Resident Evil VII down as one of the very best among them. It remains true to what makes this series great, but keeps it fresh and unique, and the future of this series is promising once again!