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Resident Evil 7– Biohazard Review (Xbox One)

OK, so here goes. A SPOILER FREE review of the latest chapter in the venerable Resident Evil franchise….

Everyone likes a trip to the countryside, especially if it is to see a long lost loved one. But one look at the Bakers lovely Plantation house in Dulvey, Louisiana would cause a pretty quick change of heart. After all, we have all seen scary movies, and we all know nothing good can be going on in this kind of setting. Well the love Ethan Winters has for his wife is strong, so strong that he doesn’t even hesitate on heading in.

I guess this is going to be a really boring game if the Baker residence turns out to be just a lovely old B&B….

It soon becomes pretty obvious your wife, Mia, hasn’t invited you up for a romantic weekend that’s for sure. And I’ll say right now, if you want maximum scare value from your excursion to the Bakers then lights off and a good headset will get you there. Trust me, it is worth it. I haven’t been so freaked out by a game since Clive Barkers Undying. Lots of creepiness and some out and out brown trousers moments. An atmosphere lost playing in daylight. The much debated switch to first person has been well implemented and to be honest I didn’t find myself missing the third person views of previous Resident Evil titles at all. In saying that though, anyone with any knowledge of the Resident Evil universe will find themselves wondering why this is Resident Evil. There doesn’t seem to be any ties to Racoon City or Umbrella here…

As I have mentioned, Resident Evil 7 has some great scares. This is obviously helped by some great lighting and sound work. Those with a Xbox One S and HDR TV will be able to enjoy this even more as HDR is used. But even in standard HD the lighting, shadows, and sound effects will have you spinning around and peeking through doors not knowing what to expect. And those of you with the Playstation VR, you can get right amongst the action. The controls are tight and I had no issues with clipping on scenery or blaming the controls for my demise. The inventory and crafting system will be familiar to returning Resident Evil players as will be the fixed save points in the form of tape recorders. One of my pet peeves shows up in the form of collectables, which are fine on their own, but added to game areas you can not revisit really annoys me. Especially if the collectables are used for upgrades or in game purchases. So be aware, search high and low in each area before moving on.

One of the most outstanding, frustrating for some, elements in Resident Evil 7 is the puzzles. Whole ‘Escape Room’ scenes to shadow boards are to be found and all are well done with a few ‘ahh, bloody hell’ moments when you finally solve them. Along side the puzzles is a good amount of backtracking to open locked doors once the key has been found. With all this in mind it is a real shame the game didn’t evolve into a genuine open world style of play. At least then I could have returned to search for collectables. But I guess as the narrative of the story does drive the game it would kill immersion if you took time out to look around old areas. 

So you may have noticed I have used the supplied screenshots that have no characters in them. I feel that seeing any of the characters you meet will also constitute a decent spoiler hence the decision to leave them out. Just trust me when I say that most, if not  all, the Baker family are truly memorable folks, even if those memories are in the form of nightmares!

Closing Comments.

I finished my first play through in just over 10 hours. There is a need to definitely play through twice for very obvious reasons and maybe even further runs to explore and secure achievements if you are that way inclined. Apparently there is DLC in the works and a Season Pass points to more content so that is a good thing. I loved it! Scary, well thought out, hell I could have stayed in the plantation house for the whole game. Just remember, aim for the head and conserve ammo. After all this is Resident Evil!