The name Resident Evil has long been synonymous with “survival horror,” a trend which the newest entry in the series Resident Evil 7: Biohazard easily carries on.
Set deep in the countryside of Louisiana, on the grounds of what appears to be an old plantation, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard puts the player in the shoes of Ethan Winters as he sets out to find his wife, Mia. After disappearing for three years with no contact, Ethan receives a disturbing email from Mia where she claims she needs his help and gives him directions to the Baker family plantation, which sets the events of the game into action.
Resident Evil 7 is a return to classic form, when compared to the most recent installments of the franchise, focusing more on the “survival” and “horror” aspects than slick looking action sequences.
In addition, the gameplay uses mechanics that were in some of the early Resident Evil games, such as limited space in the player’s inventory, combining items to craft what the player needs, and tracking down keys to open new areas.
One area where the game truly shines is the simply oppressive atmosphere that it creates, right from the opening moments of the game. Whether it is the beautiful, yet disgusting art, the sound design, or the way combat works, Resident Evil 7 clearly aims to make the player uneasy and feel like they’re in over their head. It had been years since a video game made me physically uncomfortable, but this one managed to do it within the first five minutes.
While a majority of the game is done with a muted color palette of brown, black, grey, and other darker tones, the environment still retains a clarity that helps drive home the run-down and disturbing nature of the Baker house.
Sound design is a key part of any horror game, as it allows the game to immerse the player in the situation, and Resident Evil 7 has it in spades.
Every area that Ethan passes through feels alive, whether it is rain lashing against the windowpanes, creatures shuffling around just out of sight, or the Baker family’s deranged patriarch, Jack, calling out to you while he does his best impression of Jack Nicholson from The Shining, the game draws the player in and creates tension that breeds a nearly oppressive atmosphere that helps drive each scare home.
Combat in Resident Evil 7 is another aspect that helps to drive home that Ethan is in way over his head. The enemies that the player encounters don’t always move like a human would, betraying their true nature.
Combine this with the fact that Ethan can’t take much in the way of damage and each and every fight turns into a split second decision of fight or flight, followed by a frantic scramble to not die. If you’re looking for a game that is going to draw you in, put you on edge, and keep you that way from start to finish, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is definitely worth checking out.