Resident Evil VII: Biohazard
Developed by Capcom
Published by Capcom
*Please Note: This Review is of the PlayStation 4 Version*
The story of Resident Evil VII: Biohazard follows protagonist; Ethan Winters who for three years believed his wife Mia to be dead. When Ethan receives an email from Mia asking him to come and get her; Ethan travels to Dulvey, Louisiana to be reunited with his missing wife however things don’t go according to plan when upon reuniting with Mia, they are both taken prisoner by a psychotic family called The Bakers who are infected with a mysterious virus. After regaining consciousness after a struggle, Ethan wakes up strapped to a chair at a dinner table where he meets the family for the first time. After a brief distraction gives him time, Ethan brakes out of his bindings and makes it his goal to find Mia and get out of the house alive while also facing any horrors that get in his way.
In terms of story, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard has one of the best in the series in my personal opinion and there is a lot more to the story than what I have put here with twists, surprises and more however I have not put them down purely to avoid spoiling the experience as this is definitely one of the more story driven entries in the Resident Evil series and it’s a story you need to witness to truly enjoy.
There is one thing I will mention though in terms of the story in that 1 character (who will not be named to avoid spoilers) doesn’t get their story resolved and you never find out what happened to them by the end. Another thing I would like to mention is that one character gets royally screwed over regardless of a choice that you make in the game which to me seems like a waste of a character that truly had great potential. In addition to this, the final boss fight kind of felt rather fixed and didn’t seem as much of a threat as previous fights.
Resident Evil VII: Biohazard takes a very different turn for the franchise by changing the familiar third person gameplay of the series to a brand new first person perspective. The new first person approach to the series, I felt helped to revitalize what the series had lost so long ago and that was a real element of fear which I find is because in third person; you can see when enemies are creeping up behind you however with first person, you won’t be able to see what horrors are lurking behind. In addition to this at times it felt like when pursued by an enemy; If you turned around and then turned around again after running a little bit, it looked as though the enemies sped up and were right behind your back. Another thing that I liked was just how much the game went back to the survival horror roots of it’s original predecessors by making ammo scarce and giving you a very small inventory to start the game with however this is improvable through the game by finding backpacks which increase the inventory size by 4 blocks each time. This is an interesting way to make the game difficult in my opinion since finding the inventory bags all just depends on how much you explore and since the first bag doesn’t appear until a good quarter into the game, you really need to manage your inventory space much like the first Resident Evil.
An interesting new feature to the series with this game is the use of VHS tapes which trigger a sort of flashback sequence in which you play as a completely different character to help Ethan figure out where to go next in the game or to solve a puzzle which you will come across further on in that specific segment of the game. This was a very interesting approach to solving the puzzles in the game and while some of them were familiar from the promotional videos; it added new ways to explore the game and more frights which I personally loved. There is a problem however in terms of the puzzles in this game and that problem is that they are way too easy at times with most of them merely requiring you to form a shadow by rotating an item in front of a projector to create something else (A Spider or an Eagle) which personally I feel took away from what used to make the puzzles of the old Resident Evil games so good. Another slight problem I had with the game was the lack of a lean button which I feel in a first person horror title should be a must. The lack of being able to lean did make the game more thrilling to try and rush to cover however it made it awkward to try and keep a close eye on enemies from a distance or to make sure a pursuer had went away.
Another new addition to the game is the ability to guard yourself against attacks which definitely comes in useful when you are pitted against a swarm of enemies that relentlessly attack you. The guarding in this game like most games does still do damage to you (I mean c’mon you’re not god) but it does protect you from a good amount of the damage since most attacks in this game do hurt you a lot if landed to their full potential. The enemies in this game are in fact few and far between however when they do appear they deal quite a bit of damage and have a lot of unique features to each for example; there are 4 types of molded in this game with 1 attacking you with generic slashes and lunges, One which has a giant claw (similar to one of the Majini from Resident Evil 6) which does slightly more damage, 1 which is a giant sized enemy very similar to the Bloater (from The Last of Us) and Boomer (from Left 4 Dead) which also pukes Acid at you from a distance causing quite a bit of damage and another one is more like a licker (without the lick) where it crawls on all fours and does leap attacks at you while also being much quicker than other enemies and has the ability to dodge your attacks. These enemies are usually easily taken care of by dispatching of the head (like Zombies) however another thing that you can do to the enemies in this game is completely dismember them which brings back fond memories of Dead Space. The main enemies in the game however are the Baker family who all have their own individual ways for trying to take you out with Jack taking the more direct approach of relentlessly pursuing you through the mansion, Marguerite who summons swarms of killer insects and more to continuously attack you while Lucas takes a more clever approach by leaving traps throughout his location to catch you off guard. It’s each of these little differences that helps to make the game extremely unique and helps you to think carefully about how you take each and every step you take making things a bit more tactical.
Next thing I would like to talk about is the wide variety of weapons at the players disposal with multiple melee weapons at Ethan’s disposal with 2 being available in the main campaign in the pocket knife (which is your first official weapon) and the survival knife which is made available to you later on in the game. Other melee weapons available through the game include an Axe and A Chainsaw however these items are only given to you for a limited time during boss fights in order to restrict you from getting through the game without trouble. Then come the guns which come in the form of multiple Handguns (including one which you can repair), 2 Shotguns (Another one which you can repair), A Machine Gun, A Magnum, A Grenade Launcher & A Flamethrower. The best weapon in the game by far excluding the Albert which is unlockable after beating the game is the Broken Shotgun which can be fixed using a repair kit. The best part is that very few of these weapons are given to you with most only being available if you are willing to backtrack and look around for them. Some of the means to obtain these weapons are impressive such as the flamethrower which is only obtainable by finding the different components and combining them together like you’d combine herbs while the Magnum is only obtainable by using coins that you find through the game. Speaking of things that are obtainable via these coins, you can get other items which greatly help in your fight for survival with Steroids (Which increase your Health) and Stabilizers (Which increase your Reload Speed). In addition to all of these items; There is more which are included via unlockable items which you can get from completing the game within different scenarios such as the Albert which is an extremely powerful handgun (and replica of the Samurai Edge) which you get for completing the game regularly. The Circular Saw (A really powerful buzz saw Melee weapon) & X-Ray Glasses (Item which reveals the locations of all items and collectibles) for completing the game in under 4 hours and the Walking Shoes (Item which increases walking speed) and 2 essence of defense pages (Which increases your guard) after you destroy all of the bobblehead collectibles in the game. Another thing which I really liked about this game was the ability to create items which was sort of done by mixing herbs in the original game however in this game you can’t just mix herbs together and instead a new crafting item called Chem Fluid truly becomes your friend since you can’t craft anything without it. Herbs, Gunpowder, Supplements and Solid Fuel can be combined with Chem Fluid to create First Aid Fluid, Handgun Ammo, Psychostimulants and Flamethrower Fuel however the true god like essence in the crafting of this game is the Strong Chem Fluid which when combined with all of these items gives you Strong First Aid Fluid (Full Heal), Enhanced Handgun Ammo (Which can take down the Molded with pretty much 1-2 shots), Neuro Rounds (Which work with the Grenade Launcher and slow enemies down) and Flame Rounds (Which work with the Grenade Launcher and burn enemies with a powerful shot).
Finally before I move on to another section; I have to of course mention the madhouse mode which is the hardest difficulty in the game. This mode is perhaps more suited to classic Resident Evil players who are looking for a challenge with this mode making the enemies so much more difficult making them faster, stronger and a lot more intelligent than the previous modes. In addition to this, their spawn locations are completely changed to give the player completely new surprises and ultimately making the game a lot less predictable. Add in the fact that characters like Jack can freely go through places where they never could before adds to the horror and the challenge. Another reason this Madhouse difficulty is a lot more challenging and more like the original games is the function of limited saves with the game completely removing the autosave feature and unlimited saves replacing it with Cassette Tapes which work similarly to Ink Ribbons where you have to use one to save and they disappear afterwards. In addition to the enemy spawns changing in this mode, the items do aswell with many of the locations being changed to give you a harder time. In addition to this, the antique coin number is increased in this mode from 18 to 33 which while frustrating to find is done for good reason since more items are made available to buy in the form of 2 coins which increase your Offence and Defense.
All in all, the gameplay in this game is fantastic however it does have a few problems that I have, still however I find it a fun and refreshing take on the gameplay for the series.
Okay so before I talk about the biggest factor of this section, I will just mention right now that in terms of actual music in this game; there really isn’t that much in the game with the occasional pieces of music playing during the boss fights and even a molded bloater fight in a barn section of the game however the stand-out pieces of music in the game is the Save Room theme which uses an acoustic guitar tune which is hauntingly beautiful in my honest opinion and reminded me very dearly of the soundtrack for The Last of Us and of course the song that Capcom have been marketing the game with; Go Tell Aunt Rhody which is played during the intro movie, the end credits and is even whistled at times by one of the characters in the game. Now regardless of there not being much music in this game, I feel it really helps the game since it gets rid of distractions and draws you in to the world and it’s atmosphere helping to make the game more tense with a final result for building more fear. The sound effects in this game are perfect with each weapon sounding accurate to how they would in a realistic setting such as the Chainsaw and the Shotgun. The real stand-out section of the sound in this game is the voice acting which is fantastic all around however the true stand-out performances in this game goes to Lucas and Jack who are both done perfectly with a psychotic redneck type of tone to them which in turn is accompanied by some truly hilarious dialogue. I also need to mention that some of Ethan’s dialogue is hilarious through the game; in particular his reaction to a certain monster during the game.
All in all, there seriously isn’t a single thing I’d change about the sound in this game and while some might prefer there was more music, I honestly feel that more music would take away from the experience of this game and as I said the voice acting (in particular Lucas and Jack) is superb.
So in terms of the visuals, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard definitely brings it’s A game with really good visuals that truly bring the series into the PS4/XO generation. The environments look phenomenal and in places are extremely detailed to look decrepit and creepy to help add to the atmospheric feel that the game already sets in place using the lack of sound. Before I get into talking about the character models, I’d like to mention that I loved some of the visual references and easter eggs to other things aswell such as the first hallway you come across in the Baker Mansion which looks eerily similar to the hallway from P.T. (The cancelled Silent Hills demo) aswell as some newspaper articles referencing Raccoon City and the molded enemies looking like Uroboros from Resident Evil 5. In terms of the character models, the visuals look stunning however some characters did look better than others such as Lucas and Mia. When you look at Lucas during parts of his section, his facial features are incredible with the design and amount of detail put into these features being easily identifiable from his eyes which definitely stand out to just the subtle little gestures he makes such as hinting at you to enter a code on a keypad. Mia is the other fantastic character model in the game with her facial features and overall character design looking truly beautiful however there is a slight problem with Mia’s character model which is her hair which looks really jagged at times. There was some other points in the game where the character and environment models seemed almost blurry at times which also drew away from the atmosphere however these moments were only very brief. One of things that I definitely liked in this game was a particular weapon used in one of the games first boss fights which was a giant pair of Chainsaw Scissors which in a way kind of reminded me of another dormant Capcom horror franchise; Clock Tower.
All in all, the visuals are definitely impressive in Resident Evil VII: Biohazard however it’s not the best looking game out there. This is still a really good looking game despite some coloring making the game look a bit dull.
Okay so this is definitely the fun part of the review for talking about the replay value. As of the time of typing this review, my current number of playthroughs currently stands at 7 (funny enough) with an 8th playthrough currently in the works. This game has tons of replay value in the fact that there is literally so many secrets in this game that you can find new things with every playthrough. I mean it wasn’t until my 7th playthrough that me and Jonnie realized that there was actually a hidden puzzle within the game that required the use of what we originally thought was useless item in the form of the wooden Axe. Another interesting thing to note with this game in particular is that it literally rewards you for achieving different goals through the game such as Infinite Ammo for completing Madhouse, Enhanced Defense items for shooting bobbleheads, A Collectible finder for beating the game in under 4 hours and even a Samurai Edge purely for beating the game. This is a game that savors the accomplishment you get from beating the game in many different ways. There is of course trophies and achievements for the many collectors out there who may be looking for a challenge however the one thing that I can say about this game is that despite me trying to go for the trophies in some playthroughs of this game, it is a game that seemingly draws me back to it whenever I’m not playing it which honestly very few games have ever managed to do to me (Another being The Walking Dead Season 1). The game has tons of replay value for it’s consumers and with the season pass (for those who buy it) and the free DLC on the way. It seems like Resident Evil VII: Biohazard isn’t planning on stopping with showing what it has to offer.
Personally, I have explained a lot about this game so to sum it all up; All I can say is that this might actually be my favorite Resident Evil game and has truly seen the series return to it’s roots in stellar form and while I am going to give it a high rating, It is not a perfect game by any means. The open ended part to one of the characters, the fact a few characters were completely underused, the lack of a lean button aswell as some jagged edges and blurry imagery among other things did let the game down however this is by no means a bad game. The game makes up for these bad points with many good ones and truly sees the franchise taking a turn which personally I would love to see more of in the future of this series…however Capcom, please do not do Resident Evil 2 Remake in this perspective please. All in all though, An excellent survival horror title and a true contender for game of the year 2017 (despite it being so early).
Score = 9/10
- Excellent Story (Possibly the best in the series)
- First Person Perspective truly suits the horror approach they’ve taken
- Upgradeable Inventory Slots
- VHS tapes bring interesting perspective to solving puzzles
- Guard button helps to defend in tight situations
- The unique types of enemies
- The ability to dismember enemies
- The Baker family in general (and the boss fights)
- Bosses require being tactical at times
- The different weapons at the players disposal
- The crafting elements in the game
- The Unlockable items are amazing
- Madhouse makes the game feel like an original Resident Evil title
- Sound section is perfect (Songs mentioned and Voice Jobs mentioned in particular)
- Hilarious Dialogue (Jack, Lucas and Ethan [Especially his quote about a boss])
- Interesting Visual references and allusions to other things (P.T., Uroboros, Clock Tower, Raccoon City)
- Character Models are incredible (In Particular; Lucas and Mia)
- Great visuals (for this generation)
- Plenty of replay value (and it draws you back)
- Definitely a great direction for the series
- One Character has a lack of a story resolve
- One Character is screwed over either way over your choice while another is horribly underused
- The final boss feels really fixed and doesn’t contain much threat
- Puzzles were far too easy
- Lack of a lean button
- Some Jagged edges and blurry images at times (In particular; Mia’s hair)
- Some of the coloring makes the game seem a bit dull at times
Resident Evil VII: Biohazard is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One & PC. Thanks go out to Capcom for supplying the game and assets used in this review. Be sure to let me know what you thought of the review in the comments section below and be sure to stay tuned to UGNN for all your gaming news and reviews and remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Review by Matthew McNamee