Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Review

Richard Walker

You'd be forgiven for wondering how a first-person Resident Evil is returning to the series' roots, but Resident Evil 7: Biohazard genuinely feels like a return to survival horror following the bloated, action-oriented nadir of Resident Evil 6. There's a shift in focus back to generating tension, building a nerve-shredding atmosphere and making you feel a constant, unrelenting sense of unease. Resident Evil VII isn't exactly for the faint of heart, nor is it for anyone expecting a traditional Resident Evil experience.

While spiritually VII is like the Resident Evils of yore, with Capcom resurrecting the puzzles and slow-burning tension of early instalments, the first-person perspective and scenario is a pretty major departure. This may or may not have been inspired by Kojima's ill-fated P.T., but Resident Evil 7's newly adopted viewpoint drags you into the thick of the experience, as you take your first tentative steps through the dilapidated Baker family household deep within the swampy, humid climes of the Lousiana bayou and venture beyond.


You play as Ethan Winters, a regular guy desperately searching for his missing wife Mia. It's a stark contrast to playing as trained field agents like Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine or Leon S. Kennedy, but one that makes your fraught fight for survival all the more believable and relatable, even if the game does still descend into some madness that's unmistakably and inimitably Resident Evil. So while the gameplay explores new avenues, the themes are fairly typical and certainly at home within the series' wider universe.

The only problem I really had with Resident Evil 7 was getting into it. Initially, the odds are stacked against you to such an extent that events are pretty relentless, not really letting up until you've managed to get your hands on some weaponry. Even then, scavenging and conserving the scant resources at your disposal is a constant challenge, in keeping with the traditions of the best Resident Evil games. Managing your inventory too can be a headache, and daft inconsistencies, like not being able to load bullets directly into your gun unless they're in your inventory first, are annoying.

But then this kind of inventory fiddling has always been part and parcel of Resident Evil; as such it's an integral component in making VII feel like it belongs in the series. There is one caveat: accessing your inventory doesn't pause the game, so amid an intense encounter with the game's menagerie of monstrous 'Molded' – toothsome fungal beasts who'll bite your face off in a heartbeat - healing yourself can be a frustrating, fiddly affair. That's before you remember that you can actually heal with a single button press and access weapons using the d-pad. It's easy to forget the basics when you're up against it, but being sure to combine items, creating medicine and ammo using chem fluid is vital.

Resident Evil 7's controls and gameplay mechanics are actually incredibly streamlined, although some aspects defy logic. If, for instance, you're unlucky enough to have a leg severed (a rare occurrence you might not even be subjected to), you're able to pick it up and stick it back on, if you don't bleed to death first. It's a bit weird. Still, VII does so much right and gets very little wrong. Once you've successfully survived the opening moments, it's a horror experience that truly comes into its own, delivering in practically every department.


Trepidation, fear and suspense give way to confidence as your arsenal grows, and then the game will throw you a curveball, leaving you ill-equipped and fearful once more. Fighting off the Baker family is tough, and Jack, Marguerite and Lucas each provide a different kind of challenge, delivering more than a few jump scares, some fairly taxing encounters and even a bunch of sadistic puzzles that wouldn't be out of place in one of the Saw movies. Playing on Normal is demanding enough, but completing the game unlocks 'Madhouse' difficulty, ramping things up considerably.

Collecting antique coins also enables you to unlock useful boosts like increased health, faster weapon reloading and a beefy pistol with added stopping power. You'll bag several achievements too, if you discover them all in every difficulty. Finding Mr. Everywhere bobbleheads dotted around also unlock a couple of achievements, so there's plenty to keep your eyes peeled for in Resident Evil 7. Video tapes offer additional narrative insights too, and there are achievements to be earned for playing them all. Overall, VII's achievement list is superb, spread neatly throughout the 7-9 hours or so it's likely to take you on a first run through.

Leave your misgivings about the move to a first-person perspective at the door. Resident Evil 7 is a genuine return to form for the series that manages to deliver a decent story and more importantly, an intense survival horror experience that's properly scary. After the action/shooter leanings of previous Resi games, Resident Evil 7: biohazard feels like a refreshing breath of putrid air, bringing back almost all of the elements that make the series unique, while simultaneously feeling fresh and exciting. It feels like a new beginning for Resident Evil, and we couldn't be happier.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

As a die-hard Resident Evil fan since the first game arrived in 1996, Resident Evil 7 hits all of the right notes while feeling like a natural evolution for the series. Building upon what makes Capcom's survival horror so special, while effectively telling an entirely new story, Resident Evil 7 is a fantastic game that ought to please those looking for scares and fervent Resident Evil faithful alike.

Form widget
89%
Audio
90%

Brilliantly subtle, Resident Evil 7 demands to be played while wearing headphones, or using a surround sound system at the very least. The Baker household is full of creaks and eerie sounds, while the soundtrack manages to keep you on edge.

Visuals
80%

On Xbox One, Resident Evil 7 doesn't look quite as crisp and sharp as the PS4 version. It still looks sensational though, managing to look almost photorealistic in some instances. The entire game is drenched in grisly detail; it's hard to fault from a visual standpoint.

Playability
90%

Some parts of the game have the capacity to annoy, but overall, Capcom has provided one of the most playable Resident Evil games in some time. A lot of series conventions remain, which simply ensures that VII feels like classic RE, despite the shift to first-person.

Delivery
85%

This doesn't feel at all lacking, with a first playthrough likely to take around seven hours plus. Playing a second time is interesting in light of the narrative revelations, and some scenarios can even unfold differently. Madhouse difficulty and bonus weapons add replayability, although an extra mode like Mercenaries or something might have been nice.

Achievements
80%

A strong and quite varied list that has almost all of the bases covered. Regular awards for progression keep things ticking along, while repeat playthroughs are also encouraged. Collectibles aren't too demanding either, which is nice, but there are some tough ones in here too. Like making it through the game with limited first aid and limited access to your item box.

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