‘Resident Evil 7’ marks a terrifying return to form for the game franchise

Too scary?
Todd Hailstone

Four and a half stars

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Reviewed for PlayStation 4. Also available for Xbox One and PC.

After demo-ing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in virtual reality last year, I vowed to forgo the full immersion of the PSVR headset for the sake of my fragile psyche. And yet, despite that solid logic, I did wind up playing it in VR. And I’m here to tell you, it was a goddamn nightmare.

I didn’t actually finish the game in VR; it was far too scary. But I did play the first four-to-five hours trapped in that headset, taking breaks every so often to talk with my roommates or pet my dog. Anything to lighten the oppressive feeling of dread director Koshi Nakanishi and his team of psychopaths instilled in me.

Before beginning, I had completely given up on the Resident Evil franchise. The movies were terrible, and RE5 and 6 were arguably worse. This new entry is completely different, however. It sheds the third-person perspective of past games for a more intense first-person view, so you feel intimately connected to the world in all its horror.

The graphics are noticeably better outside of VR, but both succeed in making the Baker home a believably frightening place. The sound design is also phenomenal. Floorboards creek, shutters rattle and the old house groans, creating an undercurrent of pensive anxiety so strong, sometimes just the pluck of a minor key in the ambient soundtrack would send my heart racing.

Later in the game, RE7 exchanges oppressive horror for desperate struggle. I never felt like I had enough ammunition or strong enough weapons, which is exactly what I’d wanted. Feeling underpowered and ill-equipped was a cornerstone of the original, and it’s well represented here.

The story is simple but effective, incorporating clever flashbacks through VHS tapes found throughout the Baker property. RE7 doesn’t over explain its connection to previous entries, and thankfully, there are no long-winded monologues to pull you out of the moment. Just a long string of terrifying encounters and nail-biting engagements. A great success for the series that I highly recommend … to those who have the stomach for it.

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