Five Hours In, Resident Evil 7 Is A Bloody Nightmare

I've been sneaking and shooting my way through Resident Evil 7 for the last day and loving it. It's a big breath of fresh air that's pretty damn terrifying. Here are some early thoughts on what works and what doesn't.

There's very minor spoilers below and at least one image of dismemberment.

1. This game is scary!

Let's be real here: This series hasn't been scary for a long time. Resident Evil 4 was intense but never quite elicited any long lasting dread for me the same way that running and hiding from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis' titular monster did. That was back in 1999, which means it's been almost 20 years since Resident Evil was actually scary.

Resident Evil 7 changes that. The move to a first person perspective was just what the franchise needed. Limiting player visibility means that you constantly feel vulnerable. The spectre of the unknown permeates the game. Moving around corners or opening doors takes on a new dimension when your view is so constricted. It's pure anxiety and I'm loving every terrifying second.

2. This game is basically a spooky version of hide and seek.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Some of the most memorable moments in Resident Evil 7 come when you have to hide from one of the nigh-invulnerable members of the Baker family. Tight corridors funnel them towards you and if you panic, you'll probably run into a dead end and get your neck snapped for the trouble. Instead, you have to take it slow. You need to hide behind objects, crawl silently and find hidden passages to slink through.

The bad part is that the game occasionally places these deadly foes directly in the path of useful items or key puzzles. The interior locations are tight and claustrophobic, which can make hiding difficult. This leads to clumsy chase sequences that feel far more Benny Hill than Nightmare of Elm Street. You'll make loops around furniture, figure eight through the map, and waste a lot of ammo trying to escape. It's tense but definitely frustrating when all you want to do is solve the next puzzle and move on.

3. The puzzles are too easy.

While I appreciate the game's focus on environmental exploration, the puzzles feel rather basic. Mostly, you'll find the right widget to put on the latest sprocket. You'll also repeat certain puzzle types including using found objects to create specific shadows on the wall. I've yet to encounter anything that teased my brain like the Resident Evil's crow infested painting galley puzzle or Nemesis' complex clock tower/gemstone sequence. Perhaps more are to come but I'm a bit disappointed that the puzzles have been so easy.

4. The combat is a damn good time.

The initial demo for Resident Evil 7 had players worried that the game would take after titles like Amnesia or P.T. and offer a largely sedate experience without combat. This is definitely not the case. The game is full of monsters to shoot and guns to blow their brains out with.

In many ways, it falls in line with the series' standards. Aiming limits mobility and leaves you vulnerable but it's the only reliable to way to do meaningful damage to baddies. This means that combat has a nice ebb and flow between shooting and dodging. Enemies are tough and aim matters. It isn't as action focused as Resident Evil 5 or especially Resident Evil 6, but what it lacks in flair it makes up for in raw tension.

5. This game has a very good shotgun.

Video games have some very good shotguns. The SPAS-12 from Half-Life, Doom's super shotgun and the M90 from Halo are some of my personal favourites. A good video game shotgun is chunky. It has heft and bellows hot lead when you fire. They hit like trucks and roar like dragons. Resident Evil 7 shotgun is one of the best I've fired in a long time.

6. Holy shit, this game is bloody.

The Resident Evil games have always had their fair share of gore. I've seen hunters slash Chris' head right off, Leon get torn up by a chainsaw and watched in horror as the Ustanak chewed Sherry up with a power drill.

Resident Evil 7 has some pretty fucked up shit in it though. It's full of viscera, chopped limbs, bubbling masses of flesh and at least one bisected skull. It's awesome but definitely not for the faint of heart.

7. Going grindhouse was a smart decision

The original Resident Evil games took heavily from George Romero's zombie movies, particularly Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Slow creatures shambled about, lighting crashed and cheesy dialog was everywhere. There was a lot of affection for old zombie movie tropes in the original games.

This slowly began to wane starting with Resident Evil 4, which sent the series into the realm of action movie pastiche. It worked but began to balloon to excessive heights in later titles. Luckily, Resident Evil 7 draws from grimier influences.

This game owes a lot to films like The Devil's Rejects, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Cannibal Holocaust and The Last House on the Left. The end result is a sticky affair caked in dirt, blood, sweat and fire. It's a strong departure from previous titles that helps cement a new identity for the franchise.

8. This didn't have to be a Resident Evil game.

There's such a minimal connection to the other Resident Evil titles here that the references come off as a little forced. I don't want to spoil much but even the smallest nods to the other games feel out of place here.

Likewise, there's a few moments that feel a little bit too much like Resident Evil with only a slight remix. Defined keys for doors recalls the structure of Spencer Mansion and there's even a shotgun puzzle that's basically unchanged from 1996. I'm sure plenty of fans won't mind; this is basically what folks have wanted for years. For me? The appeals to nostalgia are a bit too obvious.

9. Boss fights are a mistake.

None of the boss encounters in this game thus far have been good. It's mostly a matter of unloading enough ammo into the boss or finding out which part of the environment you can use against them. For a game that's all about creeping suspense, you'd think that the boss fights would be cathartic scream-fests. Instead of bangs, all you really get are whimpers.

10. It's good.

Resident Evil 7 is a solid game. The environments are spectacular, combat is rife with tension, there are plenty of scares and the mood is oppressive. It isn't revolutionary but it's left me jumping at small sounds in my apartment all morning.

I'll have a full review soon. Unless I die of fear first, that is.


    I'm about 2.5 hours in. got a bit stuck last night and had to switch off and go to bed...

    Are you playing in VR? I'm interested to do another playthrough without VR and see if it has the same sense of scare for me!!! Something about these evil women getting all up in my face seems to never get old! Either way I feel like i've missed so many little details and definitely will be playing through in VR again trying to find all the secrets

    I replayed the Mia video and even though going through the tunnel i knew Marguerite was going to pop right in my face after the lights go out but it still gave me the fright of my life again with tingles all over my body!!!
    When you are expecting a jump scare and it still gets you - thats good!!!

    Thank god someone other than me can see that this didn't need to have the Resident Evil label slapped on it!

    The game is fine and amazing example of a Horror VR Experience, but other than the very weak and forced connection to previous RE games, this didn't need to be called Resident Evil for anything further than to sell units.

      Although I agree with this sentiment there is every chance i may have overlooked it if it didnt have the name slapped on it ;)

      Very happy I didnt!!!

        Condemned was great! I'm glad everyone is seeing that now that it's called RE. :p

          Yeah, but unlike Condemned
          (kind of minor spoiler)
          You can't actually kill the person chasing you around the house.

          And as a result you're just running and hiding like a little bitch all the time while you're trying to work out how to escape. I played about 4-5 hours of it yesterday and for me it was really frustrating. Clearly this game isn't for me. Dead Rising/Dead Island's more my style.

          That said, I did enjoy the atmosphere and storyline of the game, so I reckon I'll just watch let's play videos, because playing it is too damn frustrating and something's likely gon' get broke before I finish it.

          I more liken it to Haunting Ground, a highly underrated PS2 era game.

      I've only played the demo so far and i could see that it didnt need or warrant the resident evil namesake, as mentioned above i fully got the house of a thousand corpses vibe not zombie apocalypse.

    I'm a couple of hours in, playing in VR and it's scaring the crap out of me. I love it, I hope the series continues in this direction.

    This game really give me hope for the future of PSVR.

    If companies can release games that play well in both formats we should get some amazing experiences.

    This is by far the best PSVR game released, bloody terrifying in parts though.

    I thought i knew what to expect after playing the demo. NOPE... was so wrong. Even the visceral close combat sequences from first person... my god. Didn't expect it done so well.

    Just finished it this morning, bloody awesome in VR. It really sells VR as something much more than a gimmick. while its hard to see why they called it 7 other than to sell more copies the game really does feel like a classic RE game, perhaps the closes to the original they have ever made.

      Complete with the backtracking that we all miss from the original :/

    Point 9: simple/unexciting boss fights
    Oh don't worry, you'll get there fairly soon. Unless you already have, in which case we you and I must react quite differently a chainsaw duel with a bloody, screaming psychopath, with the outcome being akin to callback to the end of Chief Bald-'n-Beardy from Resi 4. Up till that point, though, yeah, the boss fights are a bit simple.

    At this stage I tune out when people talk about the, "Old Resident Evil"
    After a while it all sounds the same: We played for 50 miles to school, naked, walking backward on our hands. And gameboys only cost a penny farthing!!!

    I've come to notice that most people crave a laundry list of gaming firsts, experiences that were fresh and new, forever cemented in glorious nostalgia.
    I've lived it too, still do, is what it is.
    Yeah it was scary back then and isn't now, but I can easily admit that if you took any of RE games back to teen me, they would prob be scarier if played first.

    I enjoy the series, it's progressed along the same story line it started with, only adding layers to the singular vehicle.
    Doesn't mean all the games were 10's or that all decisions were right, but it's stayed true to its roots more than some realise.

    Last edited 25/01/17 7:58 pm

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