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Enter the world of survival-horror

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    Resident Evil 7: biohazard

    Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding

    Enter the world of survival-horror

    Resident Evil VII was announced suddenly at E3 2016, pegged for release in January. After playing the pre-release demos, I was unsure if the concept could be expanded to a full video game experience. After unlocking all the achievements in the game and playing it to death, I can say confidently as a major Resident Evil fan that Resident Evil VII is the purest Resident Evil game in years, offering a truly fantastic modern horror experience.

    Gameplay

    Resident Evil VII has gotten a lot of attention for its switch to a first-person perspective, with many purists decrying Capcom’s choice to make the game first-person. These naysayers probably don’t realize that Shinji Mikami’s original vision was for Resident Evil to be first-person, but I digress.

    Ultimately, what’s important is that Resident Evil VII feels like a classic survival-horror game. In fact, it plays almost exactly like the classic games in the series, with fans exploring the environment, solving puzzles, finding items, and mostly avoiding enemies.

    Speaking of enemies, players can count the number of enemy types encountered in the game on one hand. There are the Molded monsters, which come in the fanged and fat variety, some bugs, and then the Baker family members. The Baker family are the real stars of the show, with each one having their own quirk and level of danger they pose to the player.

    Most of the time, it’s best to avoid the Baker family by hiding, but other times players are forced to take them on in boss fights. These boss battles are well-designed, often thrilling, and are some of the best boss battles the series has had to offer to date.

    Overall, Resident Evil VII takes a minimalist approach to its gameplay. It plays like the original game, except for its first-person perspective. It largely revolves around inventory management and conserving ammo, with little in the way of revolutionary new gameplay mechanics. However, since the world has gone so long without a genuine survival-horror game, Resident Evil VII still feels fresh, despite its general lack of new ideas.

    Story

    Resident Evil VII has also gotten a lot of attention for its apparent abandonment of the franchise’s overall lore. The game is set years after the conclusion of Resident Evil 6, with average joe Ethan Winters lured to a plantation deep in the Louisiana bayou in search of his wife, who he believed to be dead.

    Not long after arriving on the Baker family plantation, Ethan winds up trapped in a night of horror, where he must fight to survive against monsters, deadly traps, and more. The story has some interesting twists and turns, features fantastic villains, and manages to make the series feel grounded, which is needed after entries where protagonists literally punched boulders.

    Ethan’s lack of combat prowess compared to past Resident Evil heroes has gameplay and story implications. He feels like a vulnerable character, like a real person. This makes it much easier to get invested into his plight, and it’s easier to care about him compared to past Resident Evil protagonists.

    Another unique storytelling mechanic Resident Evil VII employs compared to the past games is its flashbacks. Players can find VHS tapes throughout the plantation that delve deeper into the game’s overall mystery. These optional VHS tapes have both story and gameplay implications as well, as they often provide clues to help Ethan solve puzzles in present time.

    Graphics and Sound

    Resident Evil VII is one of the best-looking games on current-generation hardware. The environment is incredibly detailed, with each room meticulously designed to feel genuine and creepy. The character models are pretty great, the animation is fantastic, and the game runs smooth as better.

    Resident Evil VII’s graphics help create a tense horror atmosphere that is aided by its heart-pounding soundtrack and some brilliant voice work on the part of the villains. The presentation is Resident Evil VII at the top of its game.

    Play Time and Replayability

    The first time through Resident Evil VII should take about six to eight hours. After that, players can go through with unlocked items to do a speedrun that could easily be done in less than three hours. Some people feel as though Resident Evil VII is a little too short, but honestly this is in line with the length of most games in the series.

    It is also worth noting that the game is stuffed with replayability, including multiple endings and more. Players are able to play through the game again with new items that tweak the experience and make it feel like something new. There’s also collectibles to hunt down, some of them that are useful for unlocking even more items, and then there’s also Madhouse difficulty. Madhouse difficulty dials the difficulty up significantly and will push even the best Resident Evil VII players to their limits.

    Capcom has also released some paid DLC to extend the experience, with more on the way. There’s also a free story expansion due for release at some point in the spring that should give players more to do once they’re done with the game.

    Final Recommendation

    Resident Evil VII is an easy game to recommend for fans of the franchise and those interested in the survival-horror genre in general. It has an interesting story, engaging gameplay mechanics, and beautiful graphics that bring its terror to life. It is a must-play, and one of the best horror games available on current-generation consoles.

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