By Neil Merrett
We’re a fan of our franchises here at Squareblind. More specifically, we like their evolution, rise and sometimes sad fall into obscurity as time, as well as changes in taste and technology, force change on what was considered either the great, good or guilty pleasures of gaming.
With its seventh main series iteration launching this week, Capcom’s Resident Evil series has survived four console generations since defining, or perhaps refining the 3D survival horror genre on the Playstation, building in part on dynamics introduced in the less lucrative, but influential Alone In The Dark series.
Resi 7 began as a moody, seemingly indie VR horror demo experience called ‘Kitchen’ several years ago. Now a full game, the general consensus appears to be that Resident Evil 7 is a “solid” first person, hide and seek-style game that is legitimately scary, even more so in Playstation VR. More specifically it appears to be leaving an impression as a genuine experience for gamers and a bold new step in line with the first and fourth titles in the main Resi series.
Charting the game’s evolution, The Verge suggests that as a sequel and semi-reboot, Capcom has delivered “the first great and terrifying game of 2017.”
“The very first Resident Evil was heavy on the survival horror aspect; players were dumped into a zombie-infested mansion where they needed to solve puzzles and fight off the undead to escape. Supplies were limited, adding to the suspense of each encounter. As the series evolved, however, it started to place a heavier focus on run-and-gun action. By Resident Evil 6’s release in 2012, the series had become a bloated, multi-perspective story with quick-time events that require the player to rapidly respond to on-screen button prompts,” writes Megan Farokhmanesh,
“Resident Evil 7, meanwhile, is Capcom’s return to more traditional scares. The game ditches the series’ long-used third-person view for a first-person perspective and is heavy on creeping players out through a powerful sense of setting and sound.”
Philip Kollar, writing for Polygon, was also impressed by the title, praising developer Capcom for proving him wrong on the continued reliance on the franchise by providing a unique game for both newcomers to the series and its die hard fans.
“Now, a little over four years since Resident Evil 6, Capcom’s new numbered game in the series is more than just a return to form. Resident Evil 7 capably demonstrates that, given the right mix of pressure and time, Capcom still has unique design and narrative space left to explore in what is by far its most popular — and commercially successful — franchise,” he wrote.
“No Resident Evil game since the first has done as good a job as RE7 at making me feel scared and helpless. Ethan is not a special forces agent or a police officer; he’s just a regular dude with no particular combat skills,” he said.
“When enemies start popping up in the Baker house — both the Bakers themselves and some other terrifying opponents — oftentimes Ethan’s best tactic is simply to run like hell. The more I memorized the layout of the house and surrounding areas, the more likely I was to dodge and juke my way past bad guys without wasting precious, rare ammo and healing items.”
Squareblind’s own cowardly play tester failed themselves to make it past the moody atmosphere and mannequins of the “Beginning Hours” downloadable demo this year, finding a legitimately scary simulation of horror. The sad and unfortunate tail is recounted in the Squarecast below.
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Online critics and streamers have also appeared to share a sense of fear going through the game, even stout hearted Swedes, whispering in hush tones as they try to hide away from the villainous ‘Baker Family’ while exploring the game’s setting.
Writing just after five hours of gametime, Kotaku Australia found the title to do something interesting and rather unique for survival horror, by essentially amping up the traditional playground game of hide and seek.
“ The move to a first person perspective was just what the franchise needed. Limiting player visibility means that you constantly feel vulnerable. The spectre of the unknown permeates the game. Moving around corners or opening doors takes on a new dimension when your view is so constricted. It’s pure anxiety and I’m loving every terrifying second,” noted Heather Alexandra earlier this week.
Praising the title as a solid game, with a very good shotgun, creating a satisfying sense of power – ammo permitting – to see off dastardly, perhaps inhuman foes, Alexandra questioned if the title needed to be a Resident Evil game at all.
“There’s such a minimal connection to the other Resident Evil titles here that the references come off as a little forced. I don’t want to spoil much but even the smallest nods to the other games feel out of place here,” the publication noted.
This Gen Gaming’s charlie-oakley raised some questions about the overall competence of the AI for its key antagonists, allowing for exploitable errors by a player, but still saw potential for a switch to a first person horror title for the series.
“Resident Evil 7 is a much better Resident Evil game compared to Resident Evil 6 but it’s not this generation’s Resident Evil 4, actually it’s quite far from it. It’s also far from being a bad game, actually it’s a pretty good game that’s worth purchasing but the issues keeps it from reaching its full potential,” said Oakley.