Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a survival horror game developed by legendary gaming giant Capcom and published in January of 2017. Though Biohazard is the seventh numbered game in the series, it is actually the twenty third Resident Evil game to be developed since the release of the original titular game in 1996, which ironically was titled Biohazard in Japan before receiving its more popular moniker in the west due to copyright issues. While channeling the nostalgically haunted mood and visuals of the original game, Biohazard has been heralded as a return to the series’ horror survival roots by many critics and reviewers.
However, despite its old school vibe, Resident Evil 7 also takes some bold new steps and directions for this two decades old franchise. It is the first game in the main series to feature first person point of play and from a story perspective seems to draw more influence from The Evil Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre than the original’s homage to the zombie flicks of Romero. Fans of classic horror and of the previous Resident Evil titles should be fans of Biohazard with its visual and narrative references to both the original games and the hits of golden age of gore cinema. Below, in our Resident Evil review, we’ll do a full post mortem game review to find out just what makes this title one of the best horror survival games to emerge from the darkness in recent years.
You play as Ethan Winters. Ethan, a civilian, receives a loving video message from his wife, Mia, explaining that she will be returning home from an interminable babysitting job soon. Fast forward to 2017 and Mia is three years overdue for her return. Now missing, she is presumed dead. That is, until another video message is received via E-mail. In the message, Mia tells Ethan cryptically that the was ‘right’ and that ‘she lied,’ implying that Mia’s present circumstances may have been the catalyst of something more than a standard disappearance. Even though Mia tells Ethan to stay away, the game begins with traveling alone to a decrepit Dulvey, Louisiana mansion where it is determined she may now be.
After arriving, you find Mia’s drivers license outside covered in a strange, black, oily substance, prompting you to investigate further and enter the accursed manor. Inside, of course, things only grow stranger. Various creepy black and white photos of both Mia and unidentified people are discovered, along with a newspaper headlined Twenty Missing in Two Years’. Upon finding Mia in a cell within the basement of the mansion it becomes apparent that something is wrong with your wife. Not only does she say she didn’t send the video but, terrified, asks if anyone saw you coming in and then warns that Daddy is coming’.
Escaping the basement dungeon with Mia leads you to a dead end in the mansion’s guest house where she says there was once a door. Lethargic and unwell, Mia rests on a couch while you go about to investigate only to be taken screaming through the wall by an unseen force. Following Mia through the newly made passageway you begin to hear an eerie clanking coming from the basement stairs behind you. A thunder storm blows in outside. With lightening flashing through the windows and thunder roaring through the hallways, you once again return to the steps, now blackened with darkness, only to find Mia coming up the stairs on all fours, seemingly possessed,clawing her way back to you. Lunging forward with a kitchen knife, Mia’s eyes have gone gray and milky. She hisses at you in a voice that is not your own. Eventually regaining control, Mia says she can feel “her clawing her way back inside of me” before repeatedly banging her own head against the wall and blacking out. Ethan looks down on her body and asks the same question undoubtedly running through every gamer’s mind at this moment, “What the #@$% are you, Mia?”When Mia’s demonic self rises once more and attacks, the battle ends with an ax buried in her heart in self defense just as the long dead phone line begins to ring. After speaking with the mysterious Zoe, who informs you of an exit through the attic, you return to the room where Mia’s body was lying only moments before, to find her missing once again.
Just what the #@$% has become of Mia will be revealed, along with all the horrors of the Baker residence, as you progress through the Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Who are the terrifying cannibal clan who has taken your wife hostage? What are the Molded monstrosities that roam the bayou grounds? How does the Infamous Umbrella Corporation connect to the events in Dulvey? You’ll discover all of these answers, and pick up a few questions, within the walls and underneath the floors of the backwoods Louisiana mansion.
Immersion and Gameplay Experience
Being the first in the series to rely on a first person point of view, it’s obvious that this game breaks new mold for the series. (Pun definitely intended.) It’s more than just POV that makes this title unique, however. Along with solving puzzles and killing monsters, decision making plays a vital role in the final stages of the game. Depending on which choice you make the course of the narrative could be altered, friends and loved ones could die, or your adventure could end completely. Though this decision making aspect isn’t completely new to the series, the way it works into the rest of the gameplay is certainly a unique aspect of the title.
Resident Evil: Biohazard is a cleverly paced game with a series of brilliant scares to satisfy even the most jaded horror gamer or fan. The first hour of play is unlike anything ever seen in Resident Evil before. Without a weapon of any kind and few items to wield each new piece of information gathered and each additional jump scare is effecting on a whole different level for the series knowing you are unable to defend yourself, handy ax aside. This defenselessness paired with the visceral hack and slash horror visuals make for the series at its most viciously scary.
Picking up your pistol should bring some familiarity to the dark corridors of the Baker mansion for long time fans of the franchise. Once you’re packing firepower and cycling through inventory items this game starts to feel more like a member of the Resident Evil family. Your nine millimeter won’t protect you from everything, though. With ammunition being in limited supply deciding when to take a shot and when to sneak by enemies will take a conscious effort to stay alive. This precious conservation of bullets adds another layer of tension when encountering the Molded or one of the Baker clan.
Biohazard lends itself to psychological horror in the vein of The Shining or Lost Highway aka Metamorfoze more than any other game in the series. The building of an atmosphere of apprehension is conjoined with intense physical moments that occur in the blink of an eye to fray the nerves of even the most hardened players. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard will delight old fans and newcomers alike with innovative new gameplay additions while still paying homage to their namesake.
The visual style of Resident Evil 7 is a modern take on classic horror movie aesthetic while at once being a nostalgic adaption of the original series’ trademarked look. The decrepit shacks, dilapidated interior of the house, and dank gloom of the basement dungeon are painted in dingy grays and dull reds reminiscent of dried blood. The color pallet and art style used in Biohazard serve to enhance the foreboding odiousness that the title has always developed well throughout the series. When you arrive at the Baker residence the manor’s courtyard is bathed in a crisp afternoon sunlight while the darkness of the mansion’s basement encroaches in a way that will give you goosebumps when the possessed Laura appears climbing the stairway toward you. The in-game graphics, cutscenes, and overall visual art style of this game are unnervingly familiar in the best possible way.
Sounds, both large and small, are one of the main aspects of mood building within the game. Soft scuttling from unknown creatures can be heard in the background sounds of almost every scene while creaking doors and floors add the tension of being caught by one of the Molded or the Bakers. The music of Biohazard is rare and subtle. The lack of emotive melody in the first part of the game makes for an unsettlingly quiet experience and provides an intense silence to the exploration of the Baker manor. When the music does come in it’s in a cacophony of strings in shocking instances of fighting for your life or with an eerie vibe of southern gothic guitars during moments of creeping horror.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a return to form for the franchise and even though it employees a first person shooter style point of view, the game feels more like an adventure title than ever. Though the game is the closest the series has come to recapturing the nostalgic terror of the original it still suffers from a few small issues that could have been better rounded out in development. Below are a few of the amazing horror offerings that Biohazard serves up as well as a few of the instances in which the game could be improved upon.
- Biohazard’s take on the American south is set in dilapidated locations painted in dark and dingy colors that perfectly set the mood for this gritty horror story.
- Resident Evil 7 is the scariest and most original feeling game in the series in some years.
- The game at once successfully accomplishes a multitude of original ideas while perfectly paying homage to its classic predecessors.
- The atmosphere of the game slowly grows to odiousness in a way that only Resident Evil has ever been able to provide while making perfect use of its new psychological horror influences.
- Occasionally it seems that puzzles within the game could be more challenging. At some points it seems like you are given the answers before even attempting to discover a way past on your own.
- On the other end of the scale, when trying to do battle with creatures or the Bakers it can sometimes be difficult to the point of irrationality and may take several tries to incapacitate them or sneak past.