**Just a little foreword: I’m going to be releasing a series of articles about games that I’ve played this year that are really special (to me, at least). I’m slow to write these, with everything else that’s going on in life, but I hope that you enjoy it and will continue to check back for future installments. – RW**
I have fond memories of the Resident Evil series. I’ll never forget the first time that I played the original, it was unlike anything I’d ever played before and sparked a love for survival-horror games, a love that still exists today. When Resident Evil 7 was announced, I was excited to learn that the series was going to go back to the survival-horror roots of the original games. Could this be the return to form that we’ve been waiting for? Yes, yes it is.
The premise starts simple enough with Ethan Winters searching for his missing wife, Mia, and drops us right at the gate of her last known whereabouts, the Baker family plantation. What follows is a 10-15 hour journey through the Baker’s frightening plantation trying to find Mia and get out, but we all know that things are never that easy.
The game is filled with the Resident Evil staples such as mixing herbs, first aid spray, safe rooms and a focus on exploration and inventory management and improves on the old by sporting a new first-person perspective, which adds a terrifying new immersion to the game.
The setting of this game is the best since Resident Evil 4. The plantation keeps you on the edge of your seat as it creaks and moans all throughout its dark, cramped hallways and corridors. Exploring the house takes the series back to its early days as you consult your map to determine which doors are locked and which areas haven’t been explored.
While you spend the majority of the game exploring, combat comes into play more and more as you progress through the game. The monsters that you encounter are more in line with the enemies from the most recent entries of the series, consisting mostly of goo monsters rather than the zombies and hunters from the earlier games. However, the most terrifying of all enemies you face are the Baker family themselves. The family is straight out of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film with Jack, the sadistic father, Marguerite, the lunatic mother, Lucas, the trap obsessed son, and the creepy grandmother who shows up in random spots just to stare at you from her wheelchair. Every encounter with them is tense, creepy and fantastic.
For me, the highlight of the game was the VHS tapes. Once found, you can place them in a VHS player and play through events that happened in the past, such as a group of ghost hunters investigating the Baker house, Mia as she’s being chased by Marguerite and a “Birthday!” tape that is too good to spoil.
All in all, the game is really fantastic and should be played by anyone who is a fan of survival horror games. I hope that Capcom continues with this style going forward and that the next game keeps the claustrophobic feel of this game.