Mia Winters, the wife of Ethan Winters, suddenly goes missing while on a trip. Years later, after being presumed dead, Ethan receives a suspicious message that she needs to be picked up at the Baker Estate, a large house in rural Louisiana. Soon after arriving and after making his way through a suspiciously decrepit and abandoned guest house, he finds Mia trapped in a cell. Within the next few scenes of the game, many twists unravel where Mia is lost, found in a state of insanity, and soon after, Ethan finds himself in a situation largely resembling the infamous dinner scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This Resident Evil 7 review will contain SPOILERS.
Resident Evil 7, after eight canonical titles, immediately throws the curveball of a first-person perspective. This series is known for changing things up drastically from game to game, yet this is, in my opinion, one of the riskiest they’ve ever attempted. It led me to an initial feeling that I was not going to care for the game, or at least not consider it within the same realm as the other great games of the series. Yet, as the game went on, not only did this perspective change completely win me over, but nearly every aspect of the game itself did as well.
The story, the atmosphere, the gameplay – each part works with each other to not only serve as great individual aspects of a whole but to enhance each other to the extent that if one were missing or simply askew, the rest would suffer. The balance between these aspects and others almost never loses focus, and this sets the stage for a truly horrifying and thrilling game. The game begins with seemingly no resemblance or connection to the rest of the franchise which allows a more unique and unbound story to be told. The house is run by an insane and apparently, superhuman family (the Bakers) bent on either experimenting on you or killing you if they can’t get their way. As the player treks deeper into their house in an attempt at escape, they begin reading notes that reveal clues to what is happening. Other horrifying events begin to unfold: black, oil-like monster grow out of the mold in dark hallways, dead members of the Baker family come back after death in more grotesque forms, and, nearing the end of the house section, you are forced to not only cope with the horrors you have been accustomed to, but to traverse a trap infested home in search of the most demented family member yet.
The game quickly ties into the franchise when Mia (or Zoe if you so choose) and Ethan “escape”. Evie is just another biological experiment created by a corrupt corporation set on superiority in the war zone. Mia, a secret operative of this organization, relives the events that transpired to set Evie free. We learn of the new corporation, Umbrella’s attempt to rebrand itself as the savior in hopes of righting its wrongs, and the method in which these experiments were performed. When the final section of the game comes, the salt mines, there is not all that much more to learn which makes it a bit tedious. This part of the game is likely the worst; however, the reveal of Evie’s character is probably my favorite plot twist in the entire series.
The gameplay itself is also incredible. The actual setting and style call back to Resident Evil 1 and Resident Evil 2, two of my favorites. It takes those horrifying, haunted house atmospheres and condenses them into the most frightening game yet. The item system is incredible and is the first time since Resident Evil 4 where I didn’t feel as if the inventory was actively working against me. You can now feel the impact of the various weapons, whereas in the previous two games everything other than the high-powered guns felt like they had no use or value. Finally, other than the last boss fight which I honestly couldn’t understand how to do, the bosses all were some of the most difficult and terrifying in the franchise.
The last things I want to mention are the DLCs, of which I played Not a Hero and The End of Zoe (I decided to forgo Lost Footage since it didn’t add to the overall story). Not a Hero is quite a fun DLC that is absolutely worth playing due to its brevity and the fact that it’s free. There are some cool puzzles and the search for Lucas can be quite thrilling. I do have qualms with the DLC mostly because of the overpowered enemies (and Chris looking like anything but Chris), but the lore revelations and the interesting layout make it worth it – although, I don’t think it’d ever be worth paying a typical DLC price for if that ever happened. The End of Zoe is a genius DLC and is probably one of my favorite parts of the game itself. It takes everything from the base game and almost scraps it for a pure melee, spear-chucking frenzy. The story isn’t necessarily at the forefront, but every bit of gameplay (except on minor gripe I had with a Fat Molded enemy) is exciting and completely worth the $15 it costs to play. The hand upgrade at the end of this DLC may be one of my new favorite weapons in a Resident Evil game yet.
Overall, Resident Evil 7 is easily in the top-tier of Resident Evil games, only behind RE4. I would even go as far as to say that I’d put it ahead of my two other favorites, RE1 and RE2, which, while probably sacrilegious to some, I will fully stand beside no matter how much it surprised me. Every aspect of the game such as the interesting and more seriously told story, the heart-stopping atmosphere, the great character and enemy design, the weapon and inventory systems, and the puzzles within the game, were created with the utmost care. Whereas the older Resident Evils may not appeal to larger audiences due to their age, this is one that I can truly say I would recommend anyone play.
See my shorter Grouvee Review here: Grouvee
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