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Review: ‘Resident Evil 7’ brings fresh ideas, new blood to series


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Resident Evil[1]” has a history of reinventing itself. After each three-game sequence, Capcom takes a fresh look and injects new ideas. The original[2] defined the survival-horror genre.

Then in “Resident Evil 4[3],” creator Shinji Mikami revitalized the concept with an over-the-shoulder camera and smarter Las Plagas-infected villagers. With “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard[4],” Capcom again moves in a novel direction — with first-person action, a slower pace and a moody atmosphere. Initially, the new edition doesn’t even feel like a “Resident Evil” game.

It trades the series’ zombie-infested mansions and conspiracy-laden plots for Southern hillbilly gothic.

Marguerite Baker is a handful with her power to spawn insects in “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.” (Capcom)

The protagonist, Ethan Winters, receives an email from his wife Mia, who has been missing for three years. Following its directions, he heads to Dulvey, Louisiana, to find her, but gets kidnapped by the people holding her — the Baker family. The Bakers aren’t criminals; they’re totally insane.

They live in filth, eat rotting offal and are endowed with strange abilities. Jack can regenerate body parts as needed, essentially making him immortal. His wife Marguerite has dominion over insects.

Their son Lucas is a homicidal genius who designs deadly traps. Ethan’s goal is to rescue Mia and Zoe, the black sheep of the family, and find a way to escape.


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Get it from the Apple app store[5] or the Google Play store[6].


Players will go through some gruesome situations while becoming accustomed to “Resident Evil 7.” Taking a page from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” they are constantly running and hiding from the Bakers in the beginning, with hardly any means of fighting back. That changes when Ethan finds pistols and other weapons inside the mansion.

A new engine gives many of the scenes in A new engine gives many of the scenes in “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” a realistic look. (Capcom)

Soon exploring the Baker homestead feels like wandering the grounds of the original mansion in Raccoon City. Players encounter obscure puzzles, find secret passages and take shelter in safe rooms, where they can manage their limited inventory.

All the while, they’re battling mindless creatures called the Molded, as well as the Bakers. The combat in “Resident Evil 7” feels similar to earlier games because of the slower-than-expected movement of Ethan. Despite being in first person, there’s no chance players will confuse this experience with “Doom.” The methodical fighting involves firing at enemies from afar, then turning to run as they inch closer and repeating the process.

In addition, Capcom has introduced some smart defensive maneuvers. Ethan can quickly raise his arms to defend himself against attacks, and duck to dodge intended strikes to his head. Another innovative twist involves VCR segments.

Once in a while, players discover VHS tapes that reveal flashbacks to the past. The tapes add depth to the narrative and sometimes reveals secrets that help players in the present.

Ethan, right, fires at Jack Baker, a villain who can regenerate injuredbody parts. (Capcom)Ethan, right, fires at Jack Baker, a villain who can regenerate injured body parts. (Capcom)

The novelties in the first two-thirds of the game might make players wonder what connection this game has to the rest of the “Resident Evil” universe. And that’s a good thing; unpredictability is an asset.

The horror is raw and stomach-churning at times, but toward its finale, the campaign presents bigger mysteries and falls back on familiar tropes. In tying up loose ends, “Resident Evil 7” becomes more of a conventional entry. Players deal with familiar problems, such as long corridors on a wrecked ship and searching for bullets when Ethan runs low.

And of course, there are the bosses.

Despite a few well-worn gameplay mechanics, “Resident Evil 7” does so much new that the game is still refreshing.

It adds new blood and a bold direction that the developers should continue to explore.


‘Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’
3 1/2 stars
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Rating: Mature


References

  1. ^ Resident Evil (en.wikipedia.org)
  2. ^ The original (en.wikipedia.org)
  3. ^ Resident Evil 4 (en.wikipedia.org)
  4. ^ Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (re7biohazard.com)
  5. ^ Apple app store (bayareane.ws)
  6. ^ Google Play store (bit.ly)

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