The Roots of all Resident Evil

Friday 23rd September 2016. EGX. National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. This is where I was when I first got a taste of Resident Evil 7. I was waiting in line for a go on the soon to be released PlayStation VR and I was a bit cheeky – you were supposed to wait in line and get pointed to whatever VR game was available at the time – but I had other idea’s, I knew that Resident Evil 7 was one of the playable games so I asked if I could play that specifically. After a weary look from the person signing us in, I was told I could have a go at Resident Evil 7 – something that I knew would make my wife very jealous! Especially after texting her to gloat about it!!

So, my very first experience of Resident Evil 7 was absolutely brilliant, I spent much of the demo hiding away from a demonically evil lady who I later found out to be Marguerite Baker who seemed to want nothing more than to eviscerate me if she saw me! The experience was tense and with no weapons at this point in the game did make me think a little bit of the similarities between Resident Evil 7 and Outlast (a game covered here on an earlier post) but I’ll come to that in a little bit. My VR Resident Evil experience ended with being captured by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque Baker family and subjected to atrocities including (but not limited to) limbs being cut off and food being force fed to your character. I actually felt sick at the end of it but that was more to do with my body’s inability to cope with the motion sickness induced by VR – a long sit down and a Subway meal sorted that out!

So fast forward to Christmas 2017 when I received Resident Evil 7 for the festive period. Non VR version this time! Although the immersion of VR had gone, the enjoyment of the game did not dip even a little bit, the storytelling is good, the graphics are great and what’s more the game itself has gone right back to the roots of the series for this one.

You begin by seeing a video message from the wife that your character has presumed to be dead so naturally you follow the leads and wind up exploring the grounds of what appears to be a rundown house. It’s only when you get inside that you discover that all it not well with this place – but come on, you didn’t expect that it would be ok did you? Wouldn’t be much of a game really would it?! You find your wife pretty much right away (never a good sign in a video game!) but something is wrong with her and she attacks you and ends up cutting off your hand! You are then captured by the inhabitants of the house (The Baker Family) who look all set to torture and kill you before you escape and all shades of hell break loose.

Bringing it back to the comment I made about Resident Evil coming back to it’s roots, the house that you explore is the centre of the whole game just as the Spencer Mansion was in the original game all those years ago. Make no mistake though, the Baker house is no Spencer Mansion – it looks like a tumble down shack from the outside as opposed to the grandiose splendour of the original mansion – however, the place has just as many secrets to discover and places where unmentionable horrors lurk. The emphasis here is on exploration rather than Resident Evil 6’s constant unrelenting action and the tension is ramped up a few gears because of this. You always expect there to be something around the next corner or in the next room and when there isn’t anything there you are relieved but actually it just serves to make you dread what is coming even more – for any fan of survival horror, this is a very welcome return to the genre’s top form.

As you further explore the house and the grounds (of which there are plenty!) you begin to encounter gradually more and more unsettling things and the first part of the game is played pretty much completely without weapons which as I alluded to earlier makes it easy to compare the game to something like Outlast and indeed the tension is similarly palpable in these parts. However, the game will not stay like this all the way through, it is very much a 3 act game and all the better for it I think. The first act concludes with you confronting and seemingly killing house patriarch Jack Baker and it is throughout the second act that you begin to find weapons, some of them good, some of them not so much but all of them are useful for defeating the enemies you start to encounter and without question, all weapons can be difficult to find ammo for which still ramps up that tension even when you have weapons available.

Stepping on Lego pieces can be pretty painful.

It is through this period that your house exploration uncovers a huge underground area with new mysteries, new enemies and new members of the Baker family, notably the unhinged psychopath that is Lucas Baker – as bad as Jack was, Lucas is somehow worse and he always seems to operate with a smile on his face too!

I don’t want to spoil the outcome of the game for anybody who is planning to play this but I will say that it is surprising what you start to find when you uncover the underground parts of the house and just how vast these areas are. You never feel like you’re lost or don’t know where to go but there is a lot to explore for those of you ready to put the time in to look around these area’s.

The games third act does eventually see you move away from the Baker House and provide you with another big area to uncover, it comes just at the point that you think you have completed the game and so completely surprises you when you discover that there is actually a whole other area to explore. And the enemies in this area? Some really tough MF’s reside in this area – a couple in particular take a lot to get rid of and STILL keep on coming back.

I think Resident Evil 7 does end with a few questions unanswered but you get the feeling that these answers may come in subsequent instalments. It is undoubtedly a great game and one that I would recommend to anybody but it is difficult to see exactly where this fits into the overall Resident Evil story. There are mentions of Umbrella throughout and the ending of the game suggests that they may be a wholly different company these days than they used to be but then…there is the fan theory. The fan theory that Wesker is not actually dead and he may be about to return in the next instalment. The theory is sparked by a YouTube video which shows the end of Resident Evil 5 in which you seemingly kill Wesker with a Rocket Launcher but the video slows down the supposed moment of impact and it is revealed that the rocket actually doesn’t hit Wesker at all but explodes behind him. Now, this could just have been a glitch on the PS3 version of the game but if so this doesn’t explain why the same ‘glitch’ would be in the PS4 remastered version (I recently replayed this). Could just be laziness on the developers part but then Wesker is mentioned during the course of the Umbrella Corps game as being alive. Of course this all depends on the timeline of that game (I never played it so can’t claim to know this) but it does throw up some interesting possibilities for any sequels.

Overall, Resident Evil 7 Biohazard is about as good a Survival Horror game that you will play on PS4 and I would definitely recommend it – I hope I have done a good enough job of not spoiling it for anybody who has still to play it. I would like to leave you with one last conundrum though. As Resident Evil is called Biohazard in Japan and Resident Evil 7 came with the subtitle Biohazard – is the Japanese version called Biohazard 7: Resident Evil?!

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