Resident Evil 7 review

Get ready to hide behind the sofa. The world’s favourite survival horror series is back – but is it a frighteningly good return to form or so terrifyingly awful you’ll run screaming?

26 Jan 2017


The Resident Evil games have become perhaps the most iconic horror series in videogame history with their mixture of zombies, mutants and sinister corporations. But many fans feel that the series lost its way a bit after episode four, and the focus moved further away from tense atmosphere of the earlier games towards more combat heavy games with increasingly over-the-top storylines.


(image source: Microsoft)

While Resident Evil 7 makes some very big changes to the existing formula, this is very much a return to the spirit of the original game. You’re trapped in a claustrophobic and threatening environment with very limited ways to defend yourself against powerful enemies. There doesn’t seem to be any way out and every new corner you walk around seems to take things from bad to worse.

One of the biggest changes you’ll notice is Resident Evil 7’s move to first person perspective, whereas previous titles have stayed in third person. While this has given previous games a more cinematic feel, the first person move makes the experience feel much more immediate. The frequent jump scares feel much more visceral this way, and the entire game quickly becomes an immersive struggle for survival.

This game is an exercise in atmosphere. Although most people would simply have legged it out of the house within about three seconds of having arrived, your character has relatively good reason to be there. There’s very much a creeping sense of dread that infects the first half hour of play as you uncover the decrepit, rotting secrets of the house and discover the gankiest fridge in gaming history. This feels like classic backwoods American horror – films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wrong Turn and even Evil Dead spring to mind, especially when you start to encounter the strange and disturbing Baker family who inhabit the house.

(image source: Microsoft)

This is where things start to get really nightmarish. The Baker family are quite insane, and you’ll already have spent some time discovering unpleasant surprises in the brackish crawlspaces and basement dungeons under their house by the time you meet them. Even then, you won’t be prepared for what comes next.

Resident Evil 7 strips back most of the series more overblown tropes in favour of a more personal level of horror, and its all the better for it. You’re not up against a horde of mindless zombies, but a small group of foes who have lost their minds. Ammo for guns is extremely limited and you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll find yourself in a desperate fight for survival at the exact moment you feel completely unprepared for combat.

Combat itself is actually really good fun, no matter what weapon you’re using. While the guns are great, you’ll want to conserve ammo for when you REALLY need it. Instead, you’ll be forced to get up close and personal with knives, axes and other melee weapons. These feel suitably hefty, although you’ll always wish you had something bigger when going up against the bosses.

(image source: Microsoft)

For those with extremely strong stomachs, Resident Evil 7 is utterly terrifying in VR. The oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere is bad enough, but creeping through the house while the extremely vocal Baker family announce exactly what they’re going to do to you when they find you is so engrossing you can very easily forget you’re playing a game. It’s hilarious for everyone watching when you scream and jump out of your skin, but when you’re the one wearing the goggles it’s no laughing matter. You have been warned!

There’s good news on a technical front. The game is designed to run at 60fps on all platforms, which means you’ll get silky smooth performance on both Xbox and PS4. You should be able to get 1080p graphics on both consoles, and owners of PS4 Pros can take advantage of 4K and HDR. The PC port is also reportedly very good and well optimised.

Resident Evil 7 is a strong return to form. The game should take you about ten hours on first playthrough, but you may want to head back in for another go as the story splits at one point. This isn’t a family game by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly a must play for those who enjoy being scared of the dark…

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