"Resident Evil is scary."

Now there's a statement I haven't uttered since I was young (along with "I know all the Pokemon in existence").

Since Capcom released Resident Evil 4 back in 2005, the series has shifted from its survival horror roots and has become more focused on protagonists that can suplex infected foreigners and punch gigantic boulders into pools of lava. The franchise was becoming dumb, something that the developers embraced just a tad too much and as a result became the laughing stock of the entire genre.

This is not the case with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.

Known as the game that everybody on YouTube is playing right now, the newest installment to this once suicidal franchise does away with all the unnecessary add-ons that have latched onto the series and goes back to what
Resident Evil was initially known for: being scary.

With the shift to a first-person perspective, you control Ethan Winters as he scours a dilapidated estate in Louisiana to look for his missing wife Mia. Unbeknownst to him, the residents who own the place, the Baker family, are still alive and kicking - and they don't take too kindly to trespassers.

Instead of just shooing him off the property, the Bakers actually take Ethan in as one of their own and should he struggle, they have a variety of ways in which they can turn his wife into a widow. This then becomes your goal as you look for your spouse, plan your escape, and uncover the dark mystery surrounding this hillbilly family.

It's a decent enough story, one which makes you wonder if Capcom wrote it at all, considering their track record of horrible storylines. Ethan's character is almost nonexistent, serving as a vessel in which players can project themselves, but it's the Bakers and their estate that are the stars of the game.

By narrowing down the scope into the confines of a smaller residence, Resident Evil 7 is tighter, more focused, and actually has evil residents in it. Shuffling from room to room, you can see all the details that were put into every corner of the game. The bloody walls, roach-infested kitchens, and general neglect showcase just how high of a priority hygiene is for the Baker family.

They aren't without ingenuity, however! As a result of residing in the rural part of the country, the Bakers are left with copious amounts of free time to install various secret rooms, puzzles, and traps which all try to impede your progress - that is, if they weren't so easy to solve. For all the time it took to create them, the puzzles are the least challenging of the game's roadblocks to Ethan and Mia's freedom.

But enough about that! You want to know how the game makes you crap your pants without your brain's consent!

The scares of Resident Evil 7 are largely attributed to the aforementioned Baker family. See, despite wearing clothes that were in vogue during the early '90s and wanting to reenact slasher films from the same era, the Bakers are virtually unkillable.

Introduced as enemies relatively early in the game, both Jack and Marguerite (the father and mother) scour their home in search for a limb or two that looks better when not connected to you. A stark contrast to previous games, these two actually have audible lines and loud footsteps which are your only cues that they are getting closer to turning your ass into a hat.

These are the best parts of the game, the ones that leave you with little to no ammo as you figure out a way past an invincible adoptive parent. The dreaded anticipation, the constant listening out for a rustle of cloth or the stomp of a boot - these are the elements that the game uses to build up an inevitable scare and increase the notion that the fear in your head is far outclassing the fear the game projects at you.

This is also evident in the various VHS tapes that are located in key moments throughout the plot. Serving as both backstory and providing clues to future locations, these outdated cassettes offer unique segments that range from evading the Bakers to solving their time-consuming puzzles. It's a good way for the developers to prepare players by giving them a feel of the next level's geography while at the same time luring them into a false sense of security.

Sadly though, the majority of the game's scares are found during the first half of the game, where the ammo is scarce and the Bakers are mostly present.

With only three main adversaries, Capcom thought it wise to fill in the gaps with generic Resident Evil enemies. Called the Molded, these monsters which look like the residue from old jars of Play-Doh serve as the generic grunts that eat up your ammo in between the game's needless boss fights (more on those later). For all the things that the game uses to incorporate horror, these misshapen tar blobs add very little to the scare factor with their predictable appearances and slow-as-hell walking animations.

This is where Resident Evil 7 becomes less about depriving you of sleep and more like Resident Evil.

As long as you know how to manage your first aid medicine and don't go spraying every enemy with bullets like a terrorist, the game is very generous when it comes to providing you with resources to the point that you become Rambo by the final hours. Your playstyle switches from slow and cautious to confident and fast-paced, resembling less of a survival horror game and more of an arcade shooter.

Then there are the boss fights, which make themselves known by closing off all the exits and forcing you to fight someone (or something) that could not be killed previously. It becomes a tad confusing when this happens because other than the fact that you have nowhere else to run, the game does a poor job of letting you know when to stop running and start shooting. When you figure out that it's fight time though, the different battles evolve from knowing how to exploit the environment to shooting the enemy's obvious weak points, something that fans of past Resident Evil titles know all too well.

Apart from this, classic mechanics such as combining items to make ammo and medicine make a return, with inventory management as the new bane of your existence.

You will always run into situations where you come across an item only to realize that you have no more space to store it. This would be forgivable if not for the fact that certain key items (such as keys) take up inventory space as well. It then becomes routine for players to take trips back to the game's many save points in order to dump their crap inside interconnected inventory boxes.

Resident Evil 7 isn't particularly long. You can finish the game within three hours (something that Capcom suggests you do since it unlocks a weapon that makes the game as easy as sleeping with the lights on) and there is very little incentive to return once you complete it the first time.

Yes, there are still collectibles to shoot, files to recover, and a whole new difficulty to play through which changes the item and enemy locations, but like milking a cow for the first time, there are only so many instances that you can do the same thing before it becomes predictable.

This doesn't mean that Resident Evil 7 is bad. The game is as long as it needs to be while filling each corner with something new and disturbing. From the death animations to the All-American murder family, you can say it for now:

"Resident Evil is scary."

About the author: Carlos Zotomayor

Zoto can see your underpants. Mmm... tasteful.

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