Gabe Young ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Ever since Resident Evil 4, things haven’t been too hot for the Resident Evil series. Resident Evil 5 is a bland mess and while Resident Evil 6 is stupid fun to play with friends, it’s utter garbage when compared to its predecessors. Moreover, it left the series in a slump with nowhere to go. That’s why fans were cautious when Resident Evil 7 was announced. It didn’t sound like Resident Evil. It didn’t play like Resident Evil. But there was still something there, even in the demos, that was special.
We live in a time where the modern AAA survival horror game is basically non-existent. Silent Hill and any other major horror franchises have faded away into mediocrity and obscurity, leaving the stage open for indie games and poorly produced garbage. That’s why the fact of Resident Evil 7’s mere existence is so special. In a market that only seems to be sold on not taking risks, Resident Evil 7 is a very risky investment, but an extremely smart one as well.
Resident Evil 7 learned from its mistakes and the mistakes of those around it. It feels like it’s kept its head down and watched as the old style survival horror games died and the new hide-and-seek style replaced it, only then to be supplanted by waves of cheaply made indie games. Resident Evil 7 took inspiration from how far things have come since its last good installment and used them. In short, it took everything good from both classic horror games and modern horror games. It’s a smooth combination of both styles and it’s a joy to play.
You play as Ethan as you search for your missing wife, a journey that takes you to the backwoods of Louisiana and into the middle of a grindhouse horror movie. The atmosphere of the sprawling mansion you find yourself in is perfect, as its design and the fear that the game elicits relies more on atmosphere, tension and player vulnerability than it does on jump scares. The monster variety is surprisingly limited for a Resident Evil game but the Baker family, the core antagonists that hunt Ethan throughout his stay, are all well thought out, entertaining and horrifying in their own way.
Combat is fun and pulse pounding. The game finds a middle ground between those classic Resident Evil mechanics and the more modern first person horror game mechanics. It gives you just enough tools and supplies to have a good time, just enough interesting level design for you to feel like you’re really outsmarting the monsters. Boss fight’s on the other hand, require less skill than they do luck. Perhaps each fight was intended to feel like a think on your feet moment but they end up just being lopsided, trial and error scenarios that are generally underwhelming and not in the least bit rewarding.
Jake Yancey, a student at the University of Tennessee, was contacted to weight in on Resident Evil 7‘s VR functionality.
“As already mentioned, Resident Evil 7 excels in its atmosphere. Though it is to be expected, PlayStation VR cranks up what is already excellent atmosphere into a whole other level. Sounds of creaks and footsteps pop right in your ears, enemies come right up to your face, and the whole thing is a scary delight to behold.
“Does VR work for Resident Evil 7? Absolutely. Is it necessary, though? That’s a tough question. I suppose my answer would be this: if you want tighter controls and a better gameplay experience, play without VR. If you would rather soak up every bit of the scary atmosphere and truly feel like you are in the Baker estate and don’t mind some awkward controls, play in VR.”
Resident Evil 7 is a commendable title for fans and newcomers alike. It fixes many of the problems with its own franchise as well as the ailment that afflict the horror genre in general. It is absolutely worth playing if you’re a fan of horror or if you’re a fan of just having a good time.