I love the universe building that can be done around a horror theme, it’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed playing Bloodborne so much lately. A game doesn’t have to be scary to a sense of unease and From Software’s game is a testimony to that. But what happens when there is a universe built the idea to induce fear? Resident Evil started this way, back in 96 when zombies weren’t such a common sight in video games. Capcom has expanded the story into a whole universe with games focused on building suspense and terrifying players either with cliché jump scares or through anxiety inducing survival elements that made things challenging and more satisfying. Over the time the concept was dropped in favor of action packed blockbusters featuring almost superhuman protagonists that could single-handedly save the world from the dangers of bioterrorism, until now.
Resident Evil 7 puts an end to the 3rd person heritage that defined the series in favor of a first person approach designed to play into the game’s strengths, which includes VR. But it’s also a new beginning for the series horror thematic. Ethan Winters, the new protagonist is tracing his old girlfriend through the swamps of Louisiana to what looks like an abandoned mansion in which no sane person would enter. But determined by love, stupidity or the game’s plot he goes into exploring a house filled with horrors and creatures that defy the laws of nature. Alone, unarmed and generally unprepared for the situation, Ethan proves to be a resourceful guy sneaking his way past the psychopathic Baker family to uncover the truth and evidently find his ex-girlfriend, Mia. This is how pretty much 60% of this game goes, in the good old fashion Resident Evil, solving puzzles, scavenging for any resources you can find and counting the bullets before shooting at any abomination that blocks your way. The horror is finally back and it’s not done only through cliché jump scares or by abusing the mix of light, shadow and sound. The Baker’s are some scary ass undying psychopaths with a performance so memorable that’s worthy of horrors hall of fame. And even if things do get a little crazy towards the end, after all this is Resident Evil, the game has the most horror I tasted in probably more than a year.
Resident Evil 7 is a somewhat short adventure, but does help the game keep up the intensity for as long as possible until the narrative derails towards 5 & 6 territory and the gameplay turns into a shooting practice. But I enjoyed this madhouse trip, so much that I might want to write more about it.