We are on the eve of Resident Evil 7 making its release and offering a reinvention of the series – for better or for worse. Capcom announced the latest addition to the Resident Evil series back during E3 2016, where it was revealed that the traditionally third-person shooter/horror game would be a first-person experience.
Since its reveal, Capcom has assured fans that it is a Resident Evil game and that it will "all make sense in the end." The developers have been pretty confident in the game, saying that they expected "nines and tens" in reviews, but knew they'd see some eights too.
Well, the reviews are in and Capcom was pretty spot on. The reviews are anywhere between 8/10 to 10/10, with a few outliers in the sevens. Overall, it seems like Capcom truly made a Resident Evil experience – even if it looks different.
I had hoped to enjoy Resident Evil 7 for what it appeared to be: a strange, Western approach to the series. I didn't expect it to hark so close to the series' roots while managing to still bring some action and more intuitive controls. Production-wise, this is the best Capcom's ever done, with believable performances (wait 'til you see the Baker's son. Something about him is so freakishly real to me) and wonderfully creepy audio design. With or without VR, Capcom nailed the pulse-pounding atmosphere and I am finally legitimately excited to see what it's going to do next. Though the enemy design could have been more varied, the bosses more than make up for that. The last hour and boss is slightly underwhelming, but everything up to that is consistently amazing. Resident Evil 7 went beyond my expectations, and I feel we have an instant classic here. I want to jump back in right now, and I have a feeling I'll be doing so for years to come.
Any concerns I had of Capcom deviating too far from Resident Evil’s universe were wiped out by the time the credits rolled. I love how the ghost story is integrated into the series’ lore. Yes, this game eventually goes deep with its scientific explanations. It’s a slow unveiling of information that sets up the series nicely for future installments.
Capcom has successfully reinvented Resident Evil in the past, the most notable deviation being the brilliant Resident Evil 4. This new vision doesn’t reach the same heights of spectacle and gameplay innovation as that breakthrough release but is a welcome addition to the series (both in terms of gameplay and lore), and a nice entry point for newcomers.
Overall, VR works well: the graphics hold up, aiming feels intuitive (especially since you can partially aim simply by turning your head), and horror just generally feels more real and immediate when it occupies your entire field of view. And importantly, RE7 does everything it can to deliver a top-tier experience, including a robust suite of options designed to minimize discomfort. While I can't imagine playing the entire 12-hour campaign with a headset on, RE7 is undoubtedly an amazing option for VR fans.
By the end of the campaign, I was ready for the game to be over, but that's okay. RE7 ends just as it starts to outstay its welcome, and after the fact, I felt like I'd survived a truly harrowing journey. The boss fights may be slightly inconsistent and certain sections might drag after a while, but RE7 is still a remarkable success. It has a clear vision and executes it with impressive patience and precision. By returning to horror, Resident Evil has once again become something special.
Resident Evil 7 grounds itself in elements that made the original great while still indulging in a risky new shift in style that both helps and hurts the beloved formula in equal measure. But it’s also the closest a numbered sequel has come to recapturing Resident Evil’s slow, but thrilling and atmospheric adventure game roots in a while — a welcome return that I truly hope to see more of in the future.
Resident Evil 7 is a confident attempt at reinvention. But it’s the way it channels the older games, particularly the first, that really makes it great. It takes an industrial pressure washer to the series, blasting off years of accumulated filth and grime. And you’re left with a lean, polished survival horror that borrows from its legacy but isn’t afraid to look to modern horror games for inspiration too. It loses something in the final act, and a few of the boss battles feel like a hangover from the bad old days, but otherwise this is comfortably the best Resident Evil in years.