Resident Evil 7 is undoubtedly a terrifying experience, but one well worth playing. The fantastic return to form brought about in the most recent Resi entry has been praised, and for good reason too. It’s a fantastic game, one worth experiencing once, and then again on its unlockable Madhouse mode, which truly lives up to its name. Only accessible after completing the game at least once, Madhouse difficulty brings a variety of changes to what is already terrifying, making for an entirely new experience, regardless of how much you’ve played the game on its normal or easy difficulty setting.
The differences are subtle at first, with remixed item locations, enemies dealing and taking more damage, but once the game gets going, it gets quite difficult. In order to save your progress in Madhouse mode, you need Cassette tapes, which can be found next to save points and scattered around the environment. This makes each save meaningful, and what was something that was originally so simple, now requires much more thought and care than it did before. There’s also generally less ammo found in the environment, and more separating agent too, making inventory management key in order to succeed in Madhouse. The game also teaches you to dodge incoming attacks, and use the block mechanic a lot more in order to get through encounters. I attempted the first boss about 6 times, and even more times on the latter bosses, and my Madhouse play-through ended up taking a total of 11 hours as opposed to the 7 that it took me on normal. It sounds daunting, but Madhouse is well worth trying, simply because it’s fair difficulty, and you’ll know what to expect to a certain degree. It’s a true example of higher difficulty modes done right, and I’d love to see more of it in AAA releases in the future. And hey, who doesn’t want infinite ammo?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
-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
-Beautiful world and environments
-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!