Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PC) Review

By Athanasios 28.01.2017 1

Review for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard on PC

While not the first of its kind, Capcom's marvellous action-adventure, Resident Evil, was responsible for the term 'survival horror,' which basically means limited supplies, solitude, and a strong feeling of helplessness… And then came Resident Evil 4, which heavily tipped the scales towards the action part. Great game, sure, but its success led to the fifth and sixth instalments, with the latter one probably being the worst in the main series, since it destroyed its heart and soul by being all action, and way over-the-top. The good news? The Japanese developer decided to go back to basics and #MakeResidentEvilGreatAgain.

Definitely-not-a-S.T.A.R.S.-member Ethan Winters gets the Silent Hill 2 treatment: a call from Mia, his (supposedly) dead wife, from inside a large and (again, supposedly) abandoned cottage. Armed with… nothing, he'll soon have to face the strange (in more ways than one) country folk known as the Bakers, who tend to fully regenerate back to life, even after being reduced to gory piles of blood - clothing attire and all. Even worse? Mia has actually become part of the "pack," and is more than eager to tear Ethan a new one, which she soon does, and in an unusually violent way compared to previous entries. Wait, though… something feels missing.

Five or more hours into this and there won't be a single mention of a virus, the Umbrella corporation, or a member of past games… and, to tell the truth, that's actually a good thing, because the recipe has grown stale, and thus, extremely predictable and boring. Why name this Resident Evil 7: Biohazard if it doesn't include any of these, then? Well, while "purists" will hate how this seems like it shares more DNA with Silent Hill, F.E.A.R., and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, make no mistake, underneath the hillbilly cannibal antagonists, spooky child shtick, and overall paranormal vibe, this definitely has every right to carry its heavy name.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard on PC

Moreover, should fans worry about the departure from the third-person view? The answer is: keep an open mind, forget previous entries, and just accept that survival horror was simply made for the first-person perspective, since it makes everything feel up close and personal. Yours truly (a self-confessed Doom fanatic) will go as far to say that this should probably become the sub-genre's standard. Additionally, and besides this running surprisingly smoothly on max settings, it looks absolutely stunning, with the only flaw being that some scenes (particularly close-ups) feel tailor-suited for VR, and thus, are not as effective in normal screens.

Now, while this is definitely not as terrifying as most people make it out to be, it does offer an enjoyably thrilling spook ride that will keep most gamers on the edge of their sweaty seat, especially when compared to the cheesy style of the original trilogy. For starters, our "hero" is not a soldier, but a weak nobody who gets mixed in a situation way bigger than him, his supplies aren't exactly abundant, and most encounters tend to follow the run-and-hide rule of thumb. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though, because Resident Evil 7 focuses far more on its constantly harrowing atmosphere, rather than a couple of challenging gameplay elements.

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Good horror requires a creepy setting, and the Baker residence turns out to be an exceptionally well-crafted one. Besides the disturbingly realistic visuals (666 thumbs up for facial animations and character design), this small locale is labyrinthine, dark, claustrophobic, and deafeningly silent. Great horror needs more, though, and, luckily, this does deliver. While there are several jump-scares, weird shadows, disturbing images, and doily rugs (doily rugs are scary), this mainly focuses on the Silent Hill formula to keep you on your toes. In other words, it's not the things that you can see or hear, but the things that crawl into the back of your imagination.

Yes, this is definitely a new look, and, undoubtedly, an awesome one, despite some rough edges here and there. As a game, though, this is basically like (re)playing the original… and that's certainly not an accusation. Once again, you'll have to find key objects to move deeper into the maze, do a little bit of backtracking, and solve simple, yet enjoyable, puzzles… Although it would be much better if there were more similar to one specific room escape-like puzzle, which, unfortunately, is the exception to the rule. Furthermore, the limited inventory is back, along with its pros and cons (keys still use a whole storage block), but, generally, it can be regarded as a welcome addition.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard on PC

Like all good Resident Evil games, the campaign is enjoyably short (about eight to ten hours required per playthrough), and thus, perfect for speedruns, and there are lots of secrets and pieces of lore for those eager to snoop around, not to mention the tons of simple supplies that need more than a keen eye to find them - which is the reason why psychostimulant pills are now a thing. Something that adds a fantastic layer of strategy here, is the existence of some chemicals that can be combined with some raw ingredients to create ammo or health, forcing players to think before deciding what they need the most.

Resident Evil 7 makes several throwbacks to the very first one, from puzzles and gameplay mechanics, to locations and simple pieces of decoration, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't include some things of its own. The most notable one is that, instead of filling corridors with generic zombies, Ethan is mostly against the three members of the Baker family; in essence, bosses that hunt you down before you even get to fight them, and who add their own unique brand of horror into the mix, with the father destroying walls like good ol' Nemesis, the mother appearing out of nowhere and keeping you company with her "offspring," while the son has a penchant for traps.


 
Unfortunately, and while these people are generally one of the best things this title has to offer, like many parts of this ordeal, their scenes are heavily scripted, and while such sequences in horror games are almost a necessity, there are lots of times here when you can spend a whole magazine of bullets, only to realise that what's playing in front of your eyes is nothing more than an interactive cut-scene that gives you little freedom over your actions and the effect these have on the well-being of your cute mutated opponent, something that also manages to kill the scare factor after a while, as it lowers the whole immersion thingy.

Is that it, though? Is this just Ethan versus the Bakers? No, the protagonist will soon get to meet this instalment's cannon fodder, which is, without joking, a walking mass of mouldy boredom. Yeah, really, these guys are actually less scary than the funny-looking zombies of the past, and, besides having to carefully aim their head to avoid wasting ammo, they feel more like unexciting speed-bumps than riveting battles for survival, not to mention that they come in just a bunch of marginally different versions, which stands in stark contrast with the, admittedly, quite varied bestiary of the franchise.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard on PC

While these encounters never overstay their welcome in the first two thirds of the adventure, the final part is nothing more than a repetitive and linear shootfest involving tons of these guys, and with, generally, plenty of ammo at your disposal. Even worse? The story kind of gets the same treatment, with the final "chapter" ending way too soon, and with more gunplay than character interaction or well-directed scares. One final (although minor) flaw is that the spook factor almost gets wiped out after the first playthrough, and since this is more about atmosphere, and less about action, the replay value is even lower than usual.

Obviously, this is not the masterpiece that everybody was waiting for. It has great pacing, and is surely the most frightening in the series, but it also throws its best at the very start, lowering the bar as the player gets closer to the end; it looks fantastic, but is not as "colourful" as it used to; it plays well, and pleasantly feels like the "adult" version of the original trilogy, but is very far from perfecting the formula. In conclusion: is it good, bad, or average? Thankfully, the flaws don't break the game; therefore, you can safely believe the rumours, because Capcom's seventh Resident Evil is, undoubtedly, a diamond - a very rough one, sure, but a diamond nonetheless.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Don't let the change in perspective or the different aesthetics fool you; this is definitely a Resident Evil game, and, even more importantly, one that returns to the core of its roots in the best way possible. Perfect? No. Will players miss the more comic book-like vibe of the original? Sure. However, while Resident Evil 7: Biohazard isn't everyone's cup of stagnant swamp water, it's a cup that everyone should get a taste of, at least once.

Developer

Capcom

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Hammered through this over the weekend with a buddy. Really good game! The focused setting really allowed them to bring the horror elements out, and it was pretty gripping from start to finish. Actually quite longer than I expected, but didn't overstay its welcome. Pretty interested where they are taking the story now. A lot better than I thought it would be in the end, and shows Capcom does have it in them to bring Resi back to its roots.

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