Forget all the characters you knew, forget Umbrella, forget zombies, and forget the cool horror movie camera angles, because Capcom has. Resident Evil has not only gone FPS, but it’s pretty much a first person Silent Hill now. You’re a man looking for your wife while trapped in a hellish situation in creepy locations.
As you attempt to find all the right items to unlock doors to move on to new areas, you’re chased by scary monsters and scary people. You’re forced into stealth situations as you run in circles around a house trying to gather up items, which does at times feel a little like being chased by Nemesis in Resident Evil 3. The first part of the game is frightening and loaded with jump scares, but it turns more into action horror as it progresses.
Also similar to the original RE games is the save rooms. Yes! There’s even one in a trailer home, which brought out the white trash roots in me because I never wanted to leave once I was inside its safe walls.
Within the save rooms are good old item boxes, and now there are even birdcages that hold special items you can purchase if you find enough coins during the game. Sadly, the classic, comforting save room music of days gone by is missing, and the series has moved from old school typewriters to 1980s tape recorders.
Speaking of the 80s, there are even videotapes you can find then watch on VCRs in the save rooms. Doing so gets you pulled into flashbacks that are long missions in themselves—you actually PLAY what’s on the videotape. There’s even an escape room segment on video. In essence, finding and playing these tapes makes this a longer game.
Like most Resident Evil games, RE7 is designed so that you spend large chunks of time in one location before moving on to a new one. The game is linear, so the downside is the possibility of missing out on beneficial items and then not being able to go back to old areas for them later. For instance, there are a couple of repair kits that let you make better guns, but basically you’ll never find them without a walkthrough, which I only discovered after missing out on a few of them. Sigh.
Aside from finding items just lying around, there are crates you can bust open with your knife. Unfortunately, some of them are exploding crates! It’s so infuriating when all you want is a health, and you blow yourself up instead…which causes you to need a health. You can also find lockpicks to open boxes containing items, but if you don’t find the lockpicks in a section of the game before moving on to the next section, you never find out what items you missed in unopened boxes.
Item slots are limited, and because there are mixing options for making ammunition and health, you run out even faster if you can’t combine anything you have on hand and are nowhere near a save room. There is the option of dropping items, but it’s hard to relinquish your hold on anything when you know supplies are limited. Also, some of the better weapons, as in most RE games, take up two slots.
For convenience, there are quick weapon slots on the D-pad, but they mess you up when they get rearranged on their own and you’re used to hitting specific buttons for certain weapons. Also, it’s not easy to get to the section in the inventory that allows you to change what’s in your quick slots…especially since bringing up your inventory doesn’t stop the game. What makes this worse is that the only weapons you can actually select to use while playing are the ones in your quick slots! In other words, if all four quick slot weapons are out of ammo, you have to make sure you’re safe from monsters then go into your inventory to change the quick slot choices to another weapon in your inventory before you can use it.
The end of each section delivers a boss fight, but none of them are unreasonable or all that difficult. Hell, once you figure out what the frick you’re supposed to do, even the final boss is wickedly easy.
The only real stumbling block? The damn controls. They can be frustrating for a fairly universal reason across games…the press IN feature on the sticks (aka: L3/R3), which you do accidentally in the heat of a chaotic battle, drops you into crouch mode! Argh!
The plot is so Resident Evil cliché at this point; as you read through the files you find along the way you realize it’s the same story every time! Some mad scientist experimented on a little girl and unleashed a monster strain along with some serious family drama. There is a point in the game where you have to make a choice on how to proceed, and that apparently changes the ending, but that doesn’t change the redundant plot.
One final thing to note…there are many times throughout the game that you would have no idea what to do without reading a walkthrough. I guess that’s the ultimate nod to old school Resident Evil games.
There are quite a few DLC side games available for Resident Evil 7, but upon reading up on each, I opted to only play two. The other games either had time limits, escape room situations, or were merely replays of segments of the main game with items moved around to different locations. YAWN. “Not a Hero” and “End of Zoe” are unique and feel like extensions of the main game.
Not a Hero – While you play as Chris Redfield in this short side story, this is first person, so you can’t see yourself. Your goal is to chase down a member of the family from the original game. You work your way through a maze of dark and hazy underground tunnels fighting off numerous monsters until you finally take on a final boss.
You only have a handgun and a shotgun, but they’re enough when you tack on grenades you find along the way (at least when you play on easy). The game has plenty of frustrating moments, because you get blindsided by things you couldn’t have anticipated—a room suddenly begins sucking away your oxygen and you have to get out fast when you can barely see anything, you turn a corner and are suddenly blasted away by auto turrets you didn’t know where there, a monster you’re trying to blow away turns out to be invincible—so you will have to redo some parts. The good news is while there are official tape recorder save points, when you die, most of the time you can choose “retry” to pick up not very far from where you died.
The annoying aspects improve deeper into the game. A special gas mask you find prevents those oxygen losing moments, night vision goggles make it easier to see in dark areas, and special bullets finally allow you to kill those damn invincible monsters.
In classic Resident Evil style, most of the game involves exploring and backtracking to find items that help you advance, but since the game is so short, there’s not even much of that to do. So overall, this action-packed side story gives you something new to do if you are sad that you’ve already finished the main game.
End of Zoe – In this game you play a guy in the swamps trying to find the antidote to save your infected niece.
Here’s the catch. NO WEAPONS! It’s all fist fighting against the same giant monsters from the original game. But if I can do it, so can you. I actually ignored the suggestions about targeting baddies in the head and simply crouched, went right up to them, and pummeled away at their knees until they went down. Seriously, they were never able to get a hit on me when I was down there. The only catch is that sometimes you come up against more than one monster. There are also low crawling spider-like monsters that stoop to your level when you’re crouching.
The game teaches you to do some combo attacks, and they’re not that hard to remember, but it’s mostly just button mashing to throw left and right hooks. There’s a block move I never used, and a stealth crouch move that lets you sneak up on monsters for a one-hit kill.
You eat bugs as health (gross), and they can be mixed with chem fluid you find to make med kits. There are also spears you can pick up and throw, but the aiming is a little off—I had to aim a little high to hit my targets. Also, there are little voodoo doll “effigies.” Pick up the regular ones and keep them in your inventory to add 1% power to your fighting abilities. Find the rare super effigies and it’s 5%.
Just like the regular game, there are tape recorders for saving and an item box you really don’t need because there are plenty of slots for the minimal number of items you’ll pick up.
For me the alligators were the most nightmarish part of the game. Yes, you have to wade hip deep through swamp water. You need to kill the gators with spears to get by, and most of the time the spears are nearby or can be constructed of scrap metal and tree branches you find along the way. There was just one hellish section of raised platforms and huts over water infested with alligators. Many of the platform boards are broken, forcing you to do a balancing act to proceed. Yes, I did fall in the water a few times. Yes, I did get bitten several times while trying to get back up ladders. And no, there are absolutely not enough spears to kill all the alligators down below.
And of course there is a boss, but he wasn’t that hard to beat. At least, not on easy. In fact, I didn’t die once in this entire game.