Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

A Horrifying Return to Form

Recent Resident Evil titles haven’t exactly been what fans of the franchise are looking for, most of them with a greater focus on action and spectacle rather than the horror roots of the first few games. People were dissatisfied with where the franchise was headed and luckily, Capcom took note of this and aimed to fix it with the release of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Fortunately, Resi 7 delivers on its promises, making for not only one of the best entries into the Resident Evil series, but a horror game that will undoubtedly be talked about, remembered, and used as a standard for horror games in the future.

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You don’t have to have played the other Resident Evil games to understand what’s going on here, you can jump right in and understand everything from the get-go.

A Mysterious Message 

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard follows protagonist Ethan, after he receives a mysterious message from his wife Mia, who has been missing for 3 years. The message tells Ethan to come get her from the Baker family farm in rural Louisiana. As it turns out, the Baker family are actually insane, and shortly after you arrive on the farm, they begin to ruthlessly hunt Ethan down while you try to uncover the mystery of the farm and fight to stay alive. I don’t want to go any further into the plot in order to avoid spoilers, and while there isn’t much story development early on, it really picks up about halfway into the game, and I was genuinely invested in the game’s narrative. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, looking through documents to find out bits of information about the mansion and its occupants. The characters are brought to life by some surprisingly excellent voice acting across the board, with the real standouts being the Baker family, making for a truly terrifying experience. While the narrative seems fairly cliché at first, it unexpectedly twists and turns, and none of it was predictable to me. I was caught off guard when I was presented with a key decision about 2 thirds of the way through the game, and I’m extremely eager to replay the game to see what happens when I pick the other option. All in all, Resident Evil 7 has an incredibly strong narrative, it’s intriguing, riveting, surprising, and tops it all off with excellent voice acting and characters. It’s definitely one of the better stories of this generation, and a real high point for Resident Evil.

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The entirety of Resi 7 can be played in VR.

Back to the Roots

Storytelling isn’t the only place that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard excels in, because it’s gameplay is some of the best i’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in recent memory, and it does all this while taking a new direction for the franchise. For the first time in the main series, Resident Evil 7 is first-person for the entirety of the game, and this only ups the tension and suspense that comes with playing a horror game. It plays like a standard first person shooter, only with fewer guns and more stealth. Early on in the game you’re forced to sneak through sections due to being put up against enemies you simply can’t deal with by yourself, and it creates a tense initial few hours filled with suspense and unease. You’ll spend lots of time sneaking through the decrepit old mansion, searching for items, crafting, and/or running away from any one of the insane Bakers. The mansion is littered with simple, smart environmental puzzles, and while some of them aren’t too challenging, there are the odd few that had me scratching my head. My one gripe with puzzles is that there simply aren’t enough of them in the game in my opinion, but when they are present, they’re effective and excellent. Resi 7’s horror is one of its biggest factors, and I’m delighted to say that all of it is genuinely terrifying. The atmosphere is perfectly setup, and as a player, I always felt exposed or uncomfortable, and I loved every second of it. I’d be lying if I said none of the jump scares got my girlfriend and I when we were playing, but they never felt cheap or undeserved. When you aren’t sneaking, looting or puzzling your way throughout the Baker mansion, you’ll be participating in combat. Resources are limited, and items need to be carefully managed in order to maximise your survivability. The various enemy types can be dispatched generally quickly with head shots, so accuracy is of utmost importance, which adds tension to each and every encounter. As you explore you’ll find a plethora of weapons such as a shotgun, a pistol, a flamethrower and more. The final part of Resi 7’s gameplay is its boss fights, and for the most part they’re fantastic. The early boss fights are incredibly suspenseful, and they really keep you on your toes with their challenge. The final boss fight unfortunately doesn’t follow this trend and it ends up being surprisingly easy, which brings me to my biggest issue with Resi 7, and that is its difficulty. I played through the entirety of the game on Normal, and didn’t find it that challenging apart from one or two sections in the game. The next difficulty up is Madhouse difficulty, which iv’e heard is incredibly difficult, and it’s recommended you play through the game first before trying Madhouse. It’s unfortunate there’s no middle ground here like a hard mode that fits in somewhere between Normal and Madhouse, but it’s a small issue that I have with an otherwise near-perfect game. Finally, the level design in Resi 7 is fantastic, well thought out, and intricately woven together. Environments are dark, gritty, disgusting, and incredibly well designed. It lends a very terrifying feel to the world and atmosphere that Resi 7 builds, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

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The Baker family consists of 5 people. A mother, a father, a daughter, a son, and a grandmother.

A Beautifully Decrepit Bayou
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard looks and performs beautifully on the Playstation 4 Pro. Textures are clean, environments are detailed, and the lighting is some of the best i’ve seen in a video game to date. Most of the game is in 4K, with some dynamic changes to the resolution during gameplay to keep the 60FPS solid throughout the experience, and it does a damn good job at doing so. I never experienced any noticeable frame drops throughout my experience, and the game looked gorgeous throughout it’s entirety. I also encountered no bugs whatsoever, and there seems to be an extremely high level of polish present for the whole experience. Resi 7 also sports HDR capabilities, further enhancing the world and bringing it to life.

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The Baker Farm is massive, but it’s not the only location you’ll visit in Resi 7’s 6-8 hour campaign.

Verdict: 9.0/10

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was an absolute joy to play from start to finish, and I simply cannot wait to jump back into its world on madhouse difficulty. Capcom have finally hit the sweet spot, and have delivered one of the best Resident Evil games in recent memory. It’s definitely up there with Resi 4, but which one you prefer comes down to personal preference. It has an excellent story, terrifying horror, a chilling environment, excellent gameplay systems, and it’s technically sound. Resi 7 is one of the best experiences the current generation of consoles has to offer, and I cannot recommend it enough, even if you haven’t laid a finger on Resident Evil before. It’s time for the triumphant return of Resident Evil, and what an excellent start to that return Resi 7 is.

Positives

-Intriguing story that had me invested from start to finish, with plot twists I didn’t see coming at all

-Excellent voice acting and characters

-Genuine horror and jump scares

-Tense combat

-Beautiful world and environments

-Technically flawless

Negatives

-Final boss fight was disappointing

-Feels like it’s missing a difficulty level

-Not very many puzzles

Thanks for reading guys, I’m honestly surprised at just how much I enjoyed Resi 7. It was truly fantastic, and hopefully this sparks the return of Resi for a long time to come. Up next will be an article, so keep an eye out for that!

Harry.

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Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City

Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City

The Final Soul

Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City was announced last night, and it will act as the 2nd and final piece of DLC for Dark Souls 3. The Ringed City will introduce new story, items, weapons, armour, NPCs, bosses, and a new area to explore. Some of the lore implications in the trailer are very interesting, and the theme of The Ringed City is extremely fitting for the finale of Dark Souls. According to the trailer, The Ringed City is set in the “End of the World”, and is currently slated for release on March 28th. There’s a lot of pressure on The Ringed City to deliver, due to Ashes of Ariandel being very average on release, and more importantly because this is supposedly Dark Souls’ final send off.

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New armour, weapons, and bosses will be part of the expansion. 

As a souls-fan, I’m incredibly excited for the release of The Ringed City, but I really do hope it manages to deliver. Dark Souls as a franchise deserves the best send-off it can get, and i’m sure that From Software are aware of this. Dark Souls is an extremely beloved franchise, and The Ringed City is going to play a vital part in the Souls series. Please From Software, take your time, and send-off this amazing franchise with the love and respect it deserves. The trailer for The Ringed City can be found here. Here’s to hoping Dark Souls ends the way it should.

-Harry

Gravity Rush 2

Gravity Rush 2

Physic-Defying Fun

On paper, Gravity Rush sounds like a concept that can be easily botched if it isn’t properly designed, and yet, JAPANStudio managed to pull it off. It’s a very niche game, it’s not terribly well-known, but it’s one of the Playstation Vita’s best games. It managed to do well enough to spawn a port to the Playstation 4, and a full-fledged sequel to be released in the following year. Gravity Rush 2 is finally out, taking everything the first game did well and doing it better, with some truly fantastic additions. Unfortunately, Gravity Rush 2 also inherits some problems from the first game, with a disjointed story, a monotonous third act, and a camera that occasionally tries to work against you. Still, Gravity Rush 2 is a really enjoyable time if you’re willing to get past its downfalls.

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Gravity Rush 2 is set in Jirga Para Lhao.

A Story of Two Shifters

Gravity Rush 2 takes place after the events of the first game, following protagonist Kat and her friend Syd trying to make a living in Jirga Para Lhao. I don’t want to go too in-depth about the context in order to avoid spoilers for the first game, because I highly recommend that you play through the original Gravity Rush before you play 2. Gravity Rush 2 doesn’t exactly follow one over-arching story line, it’s more multiple smaller arcs spread across 3 acts. This causes for the game to feel pretty disjointed at times, and while it’s easy to follow, I can’t help but feel it caused a few loose ends that weren’t properly concluded. It’s unfortunate, because the way Gravity Rush 2 handles it’s characters and storytelling is excellent, with likeable characters like Kat, Syd, Lisa, and Raven taking the limelight, and drawing you in with their varied personalities. Much like the first game, Gravity Rush 2 is told through an art style that’s most similar to manga. You read through comic panels, as the story unfolds page by page. It truly keeps Gravity Rush unique, and it’s done extremely well, making for a very charming way to flesh out the story and characters. It’s definitely not a terrible story, but much like the first game, it’s definitely not great either.

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Jirga Para Lhao is set in the clouds, which creates an amazing open world to explore and fly around.

The Power of Gravity

Gravity Rush 2 is definitely at its strongest when you’re allowed to freely roam its beautiful world, and there’s always something to do. NPCs with side-quests and small talk are scattered across Jirga Para Lhao’s vertically arranged islands, and completing them and/or exploring is when Gravity Rush 2 is at its finest. It’s easy to get drawn in and lost into the world, and while the plots of the side-quests are small, the NPCs have enough personality and energy to make you care about them and what you’re doing, and I look forward to jumping back in to complete the rest. The main story on the other hand is a bit of a mixed bag, some is good, some is okay, and some is just straight up boring. Early on, the story missions are simple but enjoyable, and there are some truly wondrous environments you get the opportunity to explore. It starts showing signs of weakness in its early stealth missions, and while they aren’t overly frustrating, I found myself hoping I wouldn’t see them again. The third act of the game is easily the weakest in terms of gameplay, with one extremely monotonous stealth mission (sigh), and 2 very slow, boring boss fights which includes the final boss. Speaking of which, boss fights for the most part are handled very well, and they genuinely make for some good moments except for the few I mentioned earlier. Gravity shifting still works the same way it did in Gravity Rush, with a few new additions which greatly enhance the experience of having power over gravity. The controls are slick, and flying through Jirga Para Lhao at high speeds is as thrilling as it was travelling through Hekseville from the first game. Kat has the ability to create a stasis field, enabling her to throw objects at her enemies, human or otherwise, or if you want you can make use of her kick combos returning from the first game. Gravity Rush 2 never proved truly difficult until some of the latter missions, and even then all it took was one or two more attempts to finish it off. Gravity Rush 2’s single biggest change to game play comes in the form of Gravity Styles. Kat will slowly but surely unlock 3 different Gravity Styles she can use, all effecting how she shifts gravity, how she jumps and how she fights. They’re extremely well implemented, and after some practice, I found myself swapping between styles, both in and out of combat to best fit my current situation. All of them feel fleshed out, and they’re all very useful in their own ways. One other thing Gravity Rush 2 does very well is the design of its open world. As I mentioned earlier, Jirga Para Lhao is a very vertical map, with different floating islands to explore, further enhancing how good it feels to control gravity over the course of the game. While exploring, Precious Gems can be found scattered across Jirga Para Lhao, allowing you to further upgrade Kat’s abilities. It’s addicting to just explore the world and collect Gems, and trust me, there are plenty to collect.

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The Gravity Styles also slightly change the way Kat looks.

The Sky’s the Limit

I played Gravity Rush 2 on the Playstation 4 Pro, and it was a gorgeous experience from start to finish. The game looks absolutely stunning in 4K, and there were a few moments where I had to stop myself and take in the environment. The colours pop, and the different islands make for unique and varied environments. While Gravity Rush 2 looks fantastic, it unfortunately runs at 30FPS, but it was a very consistent 30FPS, with no drops whatsoever throughout my 8 hour experience. What I did experience however, were camera issues, and while they were inconsistent, they got in the way and I found them to be very annoying. Finally, the game isn’t technically flawless either, I got stuck on a loading screen forever, and had to restart my game in order to start playing again, but that’s just one blemish on an otherwise technically sound game.

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Gravity Rush 2 also explores some very strange environments. These are where Kat unlocks her new Gravity Styles more often than not.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Gravity Rush 2, much like its predecessor, suffers from a slew of issues that undeniably bring the experience down, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. If anything, Gravity Rush 2 is a good game, and a vast improvement in terms of gameplay from the first. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Gravity Rush 2 when it was at its best, exploring the city, collecting precious gems, and helping people complete side quests. New additions to gameplay such as the new Gravity Styles and the fantastic design of the over-world also keep the game fun and entertaining. If you enjoyed the first game, I highly recommend Gravity Rush 2, and if you think you can look past its faults, there is a very enjoyable experience to be found gravity shifting across Jirga Para Lhao on the Playstation 4.

Positives

-Great characters and story telling

-Gravity Styles feel fleshed out and properly implemented

-Incredibly well designed open world

-Gravity Shifting is even better

-Stunning visuals and 4K

Negatives

-Camera issues

-Disjointed story

-Monotonous third act

-One infinite loading screen

Thanks for reading guys, over the next week I’ll be putting up a few articles on something relevant at the time, so keep an eye out for those! I also might do an article on the Switch pretty soon too. Thanks again, and have a good day.

The Cancellation of Scalebound

The Cancellation of Scalebound

A Dragon Clipped of its Wings

It was only recently that we found out Platinum Games and Microsoft have parted ways, and development on the Xbox One exclusive Scalebound, has unfortunately, been ceased. While reasons as to why this has happened haven’t been properly announced yet, it seems like the director of the game, Hideki Kamiya, wanted to achieve his original vision, and this proved to require too much time and money for Microsoft. This is incredibly disappointing, because it’s very arguable that Kamiya has never directed a bad game, and Scalebound looked like it was to continue that tradition. The third-person action adventure game was originally announced during E3 of 2014 and was slated for a release sometime during 2017. It’s very unfortunate that what could’ve potentially been a great game, has been canned, presumably because it wasn’t rushed and pushed out the door. Microsoft are the one’s at a loss here, but it’s saddening to know that at this stage, Scalebound will never see the light of day.

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As of now, Kamiya is taking a break from development, and Platinum Games as a whole must be disappointed that 4 years of work and effort has amounted to nothing. Here’s to hoping that Platinum can get back on their feet, and start pumping out quality games again, starting with Nier: Automata. Microsoft, you messed up with this one, 2017 for the Xbox One isn’t looking as good as it was. The cancellation of Scalebound is a testament to Kamiya, showing that he won’t compromise his vision and cut corners in order to release on time. I think anyone would prefer a great game that they had to wait for, as opposed to a sub-par one that was shoved out the door to meet deadlines.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episodes 1 & 2: Ties That Bind Part I & Part II

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episodes 1 & 2: Ties That Bind Part I & Part II

Definitely not a Walking Start

It’s definitely no understatement to say that Season 3 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead has started strangely. The premiere consists of Episode 1 and Episode 2, which sort of come together to create the initial story, and set the stage for what’s to come in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. Thankfully, this works in the game’s favour, setting up what I think could potentially be Telltale’s best series yet.

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A New Frontier is set a few years after the events of season 2.

A Brand New Frontier

the Walking Dead: A New Frontier, is set a few years after the end of season 2, and follows the story of Javi, a survivor who has been separated from most of his family and wants nothing more than to find them. Javi is an incredibly strong protagonist, and i’m very interested to see how he develops and changes over the course of the episodes. The new and returning characters here are all very interesting and likeable, and I found myself quickly caring for them as I do with other Telltale characters. Clementine makes a return once again, and her character is easily one of my favourites due to how well-developed she is and has been since season 2.The one thing I wished was handled better, was the explanation of what had happened to past characters. While these moments were quite emotionally impactful, I can’t help but feel like more justice should’ve been done by these characters. Dialogue choices once again play a large part in The Walking Dead, and considering all your options in every situation is crucial. The bigger decisions of the two episodes feel impactful, and they make for story moments that were incredibly emotional and heavy. Emotion is something that the first two episodes of the New Frontier does perfectly, with three plot twists over the course of both episodes, two of which legitimately made me shed a tear or two. The gameplay is standard stuff for the Walking Dead, and combat is once again fairly minimal in terms of interactivity, but it gets the job done. FINALLY it seems like Telltale have hit the sweet spot with performance right from the start. I had no problems when playing either episode and they always consistently ran at 60 FPS. The game also looks gorgeous too, once again using the cel-shaded art style that Telltale have become very well-known for. There’s a large amount of detail to be found in the world as well, which was a refreshing experience when exploring the various locations.

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The end of episode 2 finishes with a twist that left me wanting episode 3 right away.

Verdict: 9/10

The first two episodes of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, act as an incredibly strong debut for Telltale’s third season of the Walking Dead. It’s tense, emotional, fast paced, technically sound, and has a very strong story, filled with even stronger characters. Besides some characters not getting enough justice done by them (in my opinion) Telltale has started off season 3 flawlessly, and words can’t describe how excited I am for the release of episode 3.

Positives

-Fantastic story

-Heavy choices

-Strong characters, new and old

-Multiple, emotional plot twists

-Technically sound

Negatives

-Some characters aren’t done enough justice

Thanks for reading guys, i’m really happy with how this one turned out, it was fantastic. Up next will be a post about the cancellation of Scalebound, because I want to voice some opinions I have on it.

Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 5: City of Light

Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 5: City of Light

A Rough Finish

Telltale’s Batman series has seen much praise from critics across the board over the course of its 5 episode series, and for good reason. The past 4 episodes have all ranged from a minimum of good to excellent, with some of the early episodes being the highlight of the series. The final episode of Telltale’s Batman series has finally been released, and while it’s a satisfying conclusion to the series in most ways, an abrupt ending and unnecessary story telling make for  a slightly rougher ending then I hoped for.

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Episode 5 takes place across multiple locales, from Gotham City to Arkham Asylum.

Lighting the Way

I want to start of positively by saying that Episode 5: City of Light, does a fantastic job of tying up all of the loose ends created in previous episodes. There’s a satisfying amount of conclusion to be found throughout episode 5, and without spoiling too much, a lot of incentives and back story is revealed, creating a very dark, tense tone for the rest of the episode. It was thrilling to discover revelation after revelation as I further progressed into the 2 hour episode. City of Light looks to develop the characters that deserve it most, further improving upon Bruce Wayne/Batman, Alfred and most importantly, Lady Arkham. The story is enjoyable for most of the episode, with one section in particular being completely unnecessary and out-of-place. The biggest problem with City of Light is how it ends, it seems like it has a few more minutes left to enjoy, but instead it abruptly cuts to black, obviously leaving room for a season 2. While it’s comforting to know that season 2 of Telltale’s Batman is inevitable, I can’t help but feel the ending could’ve been handled a little better. Ultimately, the choices in Episode 5 never come to be as heavy as they can be in Episode 4, but I still found myself torn on multiple occasions, and it still feels like my choice really made an impact on the overall story. It’s truly fantastic this has stayed consistent throughout the series, and I’m looking forward to replaying the series in the future. The combat sequences are once again expertly handled, and while it’s fairly passive, it’s incredible to experience and look at. The detective mode also returns in one particular part of the episode, and once again it’s a let down. While it’s cool to piece together, it ends up being monotonous and slow due to how simple it is, and it feels like it’s there to halt your progress rather than challenge your logic and thinking skills. Much like Episode 4, City of Light runs flawlessly, and it’s definitely the most technically sound episode that’s been released so far, which i’m incredibly happy to say. The game still looks good, but it’s no different from the other episodes. One thing that I have to praise again, is how original and vastly different Telltale’s universe is from any other, and I was once again constantly surprised by characters I thought I knew well.

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Batman is definitely one of Telltale’s strongest series. 

Verdict: 8/10

Telltale’s Batman Series has undoubtedly been one of their best, and while Episode 5 could’ve been better, it’s definitely a fitting conclusion to the fantastic series. It ties up everything nicely, with a strong sense of conclusion by the time it’s finished, albeit an abrupt ending. The choices are difficult to make, character development is fantastic, combat sequences are awesome, and the tone for the episode is surprisingly dark. The detective mode sequence could’ve been better, but it doesn’t bring episode 5 down too much. It’s another strong episode in an even stronger series, and I can’t wait to see what Telltale do with season 2.

Positives

-All loose ends are tied up

-Strong storytelling

-Interesting character development

-Awesome combat sequences

-Technically sound

Negatives

-Some unnecessary storytelling

-Lacklustre detective sequence

-Abrupt ending

Thanks for reading guys, sorry this one took so long, I was on holiday just after it came out. Up next is The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 1 and 2.