We were all quite amazed when Capcom announced a new Resident Evil at the last E3. Finally, there was no known character to see, no umbrella writing, no zombies and yet we were all fixed. Finally, it seemed as if the series was returning to its former strength. An abandoned house, a morbid atmosphere and a character who feels more like a victim than a hero.

TitleResident Evil 7: Biohazard
Platform(s)PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
PublisherCapcom
DeveloperCapcom
GenreSurvival horror
ReleaseJanuary 24, 2017
Mode(s)Single-player
ESRB-rating-Mature-17+MATURE - Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

I was nine years old when we met – back then in the legendary mansion. I’ve been researching every angle, and I couldn’t get enough of you. Since then we have spent many hours together. We were scared together, we ran away together, we shot each other through zombie hordes.

Somehow we had nothing more to tell each other in the end. I gave you so many chances, but every further attempt of yours failed miserably. I hate to say you this, but in the end, you were just a decal for yourself.

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But apparently, you realized your mistakes because at the last E3 you suddenly had my attention again. Since then, you’ve teased me over and over again and let me participate in your transformation in part. I was tingling. It was the same tingling as before. And behold, the love of youth shines as beautifully as it did the last day we met. You have a little quirk here and there, but hey, none of us are perfect. And maybe I even love your little quirks. But first, what’s your story?

A poor protagonist whose friend Mia disappeared three years ago? That’s cruel. Oh, she’s still alive? But then why does it take three years for it to get back to you? And what’s she doing in Louisiana? Anyway, the important thing is that she’s still alive. Let’s get going. But what do we find there?

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An abandoned house in the middle of the most in-depth pampas of the southern states? This place looks like Evil Dead and the first season of True Detective conceived a child together. Where did you take us, Mia?

A dialogue on my part would look like mentioned if Resident Evil were a real person. But of course, it is the latest horror blockbuster from Capcom. But the question of where Mia has led us. Resident Evil 7 doesn’t take 15 minutes to give us a queasy feeling. And as sick as it is, it is beautiful.

After all, we know what happened last time Capcom announced a new “real Resident Evil.” We got the action offshoot Resident Evil 6, and we were very disappointed. But forget the past. Now Resident Evil 7 is here, and the game does a lot right.

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Whoever has played the first Resident Evil offshoot will quickly feel at home in the seventh part. The House of Bakers seems very familiar from the very beginning minute, although you have never entered it except for the teaser demos. A short prologue inside the house introduces you to the story, and from then on you have to escape the horror and save your friend.

But also with Mia, something seems to be wrong. At every corner, there is something to discover, and it applies to search the house correctly. Otherwise, we will eventually have a problem with remedies or ammunition. Both do not exist in surplus. So every shot that doesn’t go straight to the head starts with some sweat beads on my forehead. But little by little the armament increases at least to such an extent that you feel a bit safer – but never overpowering.

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The whole thing garnishes with solid puzzles, which don’t make us despair but are challenging to solve. Of course, we cannot enter every room immediately but open up the way little by little. It ensures that at some point we develop a real feeling for the house, as we explore many paths several times for necessary backtracking.

I can warn anyone who thinks that this aspect will take away the horror of the house. Every repeated gait is by no means more relaxed. After all, you never know when you’ll run into the Baker family. For example, it’s not unusual for Jack to suddenly come after you with an ax. So you never feel too safe as the family is continually patrolling their house. Also lovely is the elimination of any loading screens – unless of course, you bless the temporal.

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Another highlight is the sound backdrop. Rarely has a creaking floor or a knock on the door upset me so much as in Resident Evil 7, the shadows are also skilfully staged, and so you may get so scared because you think someone is coming – and then it’s just the shadow from the fan.

The interplay of light and shadow remains coherent until the end and, together with the sound backdrop, underlines the already eerie atmosphere. If you’re a bit jumpy, you might want to start the game at the manageable level of difficulty.

The game forgives a lot of mistakes there and makes sure that you can go around many opponents if it becomes too tricky. I think the dubbing voices of the characters are all perfect.

The game quotes some classics of horror movie history and charmingly incorporates these quotes into its story. For example, there is a scene in which a chainsaw and the word “Groovy” are in context with each other. Ash of Evil Dead would make leaps in the air. Also, classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw, and The Exorcist mentions are here.

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But where there is light, there is of course also shadow. In my opinion, Resident Evil 7 is already close to perfection, but there are also small shortcomings. For one thing, there’s the engine. All in all, the game looks beautiful, but if you move too close to some objects, you may come across washed-out and blurred textures.

And also the behavior of the enemies loses its horror sometimes if one questions the mechanics accurately. So at some point, a pattern reveals itself in which situations the Bakers appear and when it becomes tricky. But you don’t notice this until the second run.

Otherwise, I can’t complain much about the new Resident Evil. Only the last quarter of the game may encounter mixed feelings, as it becomes relatively action-heavy there. It wasn’t a big deal for me, because you’ve left a lot of oppressive horrors behind, but I’m sure some of you might be bothered by that. However, we’re not talking about any Resident Evil 6 action, so don’t worry. Besides, the content fits the storytelling.

And then there’s this one question. Is Resident Evil 7 a sequel & canon? No raccoon city, no Jill Valentine, not even Leon S. Kennedy. Just a house with crazy southern Hillbillies?! Of course, I will only touch on the answer and not explain it in more detail, but yes! It’s canon.

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Admittedly, the explanation of what exactly happened is very late in the main game, but believe me, it all makes sense in context. In the beginning, I was a bit skeptical, but overall I am delighted with the explanation and the end and look forward to furthering offshoots of the (new) “Resident Evil” series.

Conclusion

That was Resident Evil 7. I can’t believe it, after all these years of disappointment, but: I am overwhelmed. Capcom has indeed succeeded in making the big hit. Of course, it was also the highest railway because even the most prominent serial fan would not have been able to cope with another mistake.

Resident Evil 7 does everything right and marks a new beginning of the series, just as the legendary fourth part did at the time. Less action, more horror. Instead of extensive areas, slightly dark and narrow passages. No superiority in weapons, but the precise management of inventory and ammunition. That makes the mood.

I haven’t felt so uncomfortable for a long time opening a locked door in a game. The fear of the unknown. Is there something lurking there? Is something going to jump me? One of the Bakers after me again? But you overcome your fear step by step and are rewarded for it. Resident Evil 7 has managed to be both a sequel and a reboot.