When Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was revealed back at E3 2016, there were a lot of concerns. It didn't look like nor feel like a Resident Evil game, but when the game finally released in January this year fans were treated to a title that revamped and revitalised the series while at the same time bringing it back to the roots we had seen 20 years early. The emphasis was back on survival, and making the player feel vulnerable, and it was incredibly effective at doing all this.
In the game, you play as a man called Ethan investigating the Baker residence in search of his missing partner Mia, and while we won't spoil what happens, we're thrown into a situation where we have to escape from the clutches of the twisted Baker family. The only trouble is that they won't die, and so we're forced to run instead of fight, a stark difference from the last few numbered entries in the series.
Sources were scarce in the Baker household, whether we're talking bullets or herbs, and the loved/hated inventory management was back with a vengeance, forcing you to make the tough decisions as to what you wanted to take with you, or more importantly, what you might need further down the line. What's more is that the shift away from action also saw the return of classic Resident Evil puzzles. Yes, once again you could find obscure artefacts that fitted into doors, or needlessly elaborate mechanisms to get into rooms, all of which was thought-provoking without being obtuse.
Most importantly of all for a Resident Evil game though it was scary again. Being forced to flee from your captors made them terrifying in a way that's reminiscent of the Alien in Alien: Isolation. They stalked you through the corridors, taunted you, and made you jump out of your skin when appearing at the worst possible moments. They were a threat, not a nuisance, and became even more twisted as you uncovered the secrets of the family.
The base game was fantastic, but on top of this, the game was bolstered throughout the years with DLC which complimented the story perfectly. The Banned Footage, Not a Hero, and End of Zoe expansions gave extra insight into before and after the game's events for those who wanted it, providing new and interesting challenges and extra characters to investigate, although more importantly, these weren't necessary to understand the main game - just added extras. Banned Footage even let you play a twisted game of 21 which saw you lose a limb if you didn't play your cards right.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard ushered in a new era for the series, one that had somewhat lost its way in recent years. While Resident Evil 6 had strayed too much into action, this entry pulled it back to where it started, making the survival horror scary again. It's almost as if this was the Silent Hills we were never given, and Capcom did well to provide such a tight experience, even if the last third wasn't to everyone's taste.
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