|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Release: January 24, 2017|
|Players: Single Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
by Patrick Tretina
We’ve come a long way since first being trapped inside that unforgettable mansion in Raccoon City during the mid 1990s. We’ve experienced some of the most exhilarating moments in video game history with an array of characters and horrifying monsters since first being introduced to Rebecca Chambers and Billy Young. Resident Evil 7 is no exception in that regard. The newest Resident Evil installment from Capcom is a terrifyingly brilliant work of living art that completely alters the way the game is presented while simultaneously preserving its historic roots. Its deviations not only breathe new life into the twenty-year franchise but also provide a platform that will subtly keep your skin crawling with anxiety.
The backstory pits a new protagonist, Ethan Winters, against a murderous family known simply as the Bakers. Ethan is driven to this forsaken land to find his beloved wife who was previously thought to have been killed. Of course, a groundbreaking shift in the Resident Evil franchise wouldn't be complete without a setting that nods back to the original game that started it all during the mid 1990’s. Yep, Ethan is trapped in a mansion on the bayou of Louisiana, complete with swamps and a creepy family dressed in overalls. The mansion isn’t very large, but you’ll certainly use every square inch of it trying to survive what this psychotic family throws at you, literally.
Resident Evil 7’s most noticeable improvement comes in the form of the first-person perspective. Capcom has finally placed gamers at the forefront of the action by moving them directly into the thick of the action with the first-person point of view. The choice to change from the classic third-person perspective, which has become synonymous with the series, was both bold and genius. Not only does the game feel much more terrifyingly authentic, but more importantly, it allows players to soak in the carefully crafted atmosphere for all it’s worth.
It’s true, some players won’t like the change, but Capcom has softened the blow by opening up the world for a nice balance of exploration and heart-pumping action. The sounds alone will leave you exhausted and stressed out for fear that something’s hiding in the room next to you. It’s true, the franchise has long been known for its ability to turn grown men into scared little children. Unfortunately, the series' recent action-packed direction has hindered its ability to take any significant strides forward - until now.
Resident Evil 7 brings us a perfect balance of both worlds, which allows those players obsessed with finding goodies and exploring every inch of space available to run wild. As a result, the constant high intensity action seen in previous versions is replaced by an elevated buzz of anxiety with carefully placed spurts of intense engagement. The game flows perfectly and naturally carries the story forward without any forced points. This type of story progression is incredibly difficult to achieve but is pulled off flawlessly from the minute you fire this bad boy up. It’s certainly something that needs to be experienced firsthand to understand the true depth of the living story.
The game’s organically-told story is accompanied by an array of vintage Resident Evil puzzles scattered throughout the mansion. They blend nicely into the overall experience and don’t ever feel forced. Unfortunately, they’re painfully easy to complete and their solutions tend to reveal themselves before you've really even started to tackle them. Ideally, the puzzles would come with some degree of difficulty early on and increase as the game progresses. In fact, it seemed like the complete opposite as I began to advance forward into the mansion of horrors and unpleasant surprises. It’s no surprise the game’s total play time equates to a mere 10-15 hours.