Resident Evil 7 Review (PS4)
Ethan must really love his wife. I would have left right when I saw the creepy cow effigy.
So it’s been 4 years since Resident Evil 7 originally released and while I picked it up around that time, I never really ended up finishing it. It may be due to me watching my favorite Let’s Players play it, with some streaming themselves going for all of the achievements, or it just being so scary that I was like “nope” as I have a bad habit of playing horror games at night and not when the sun is out. I don’t know why, but night seemed like the only time that was appropriate to play horror games. Anyway, as Resident Evil Village was coming out (and I am MONTHS late on that too) I thought I’d restart my playthrough. And well, turns out I didn’t really get that far in originally.
Resident Evil 7 follows Ethan Winters who we quickly learn has a missing wife. While you don’t really know the extent of their relationship, you do get the impression that they love each other through a quick video. However, three years ago, she went missing. We see a video of Mia telling Ethan to just forget about her and to not try and find her, though it doesn’t really reach him. What does reach Ethan is an email telling him where Mia is. So being a worried husband, he makes his way to the location. The house he comes up to is nice, creepy and abandoned but nice. The front gate is locked so he has to go in through the back. Which includes not turning back or calling for help after encountering a cow effigy (which he touches, gross), a strange man walking about, and Mia’s things being burned. And when he walks into the house, we find that Ethan’s level of preparedness is having a flashlight.
Luckily, Ethan does eventually find Mia, but unluckily she isn’t acting like herself. You’ll see what’s happening to her as you get further in, but you find yourself forced to fight Mia, having your hand chainsawed off, and being punched by Jack welcoming you to the family. It’s hard to really put it into words, but Resident Evil 7 starts out great as it brings in the dread and horror that will permeate throughout the game. Giving you a taste on how powerful the Bakers are and how you’ll have to have your full attention on your surroundings or else you’ll get caught unaware. And despite knowing full well what was going to happen, it still scared me. Anyway, after (forcibly) attending a family dinner, you’re first goal is to escape the house (which will hopefully include Mia escaping with you). Of course, that isn’t going to be easy as the Bakers aren’t exactly keeping their doors unlocked. Sending you on a journey throughout the whole Baker property trying to not run into the Bakers while completing tasks to get what you need to do next, learning what the hell is happening, getting kinda helpful messages from someone named Zoe, and defeating the Bakers when worse comes to shove.
To defend yourself against enemies, you have the standard knife and handgun combo starting out, with you coming across other weapons while you’re playing and some of the more powerful ones requiring you to look a bit harder or going out of your way to get them in your hands and in working order. Exploring the Baker residence and looking everywhere you can is important as this will help in your survival. Smashing taped boxes, opening drawers, and looking in corners will reveal ammo, first aid meds, chem fluid, herbs, and lockpicks. With chem fluid acting as the main ingredient for the crafting system here as you’ll be able to craft more first aid meds, ammo, and enhanced ammo once you find stronger chem fluid to help you out in a pinch. Which you’ll probably need as you’ll be up against enemies dubbed as The Molded, due to them being comprised of mold, that will take out nasty bites and scratches out of you if you’re not careful. And with the house being dark in these areas, the Molded can easily blend in. There are a couple Molded variations, but no matter what, hitting the head deals the most damage while hitting their legs or arms stops them from getting you as easily. But, if you do find yourself needing to take damage as your back is against a (literal) wall, Ethan can do a block to take less damage rather than all.
In addition with these helpful pickups, you’ll be able to find backpack upgrades when you’ll most likely be carrying a full bag for a while already, antique coins where you can buy health and reloading upgrades or a Magnum (which I recommend picking the Magnum last, but you can buy all of them if you find all the coins), and Mr. Everywhere bobble heads that you can barely hear it bobbing. Finding and smashing all Mr. Everywhere bobble heads will unlock some items, but unless you’re planning to do multiple playthroughs, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. There are also various files scattered around to give you more information and lore; as well as some VHS tapes you can find which will give you some more insight on the past as well as giving you an opportunity to look at what’s to be expected next. Giving you a little sneak peak in the next area.
Though, don’t get too comfortable. The Baker family acts as the game’s bosses. With Jack being a great stalker that will patrol and aim to grab you unaware. Giving you a threat in the house where there aren’t any Molded to do it for him. And the skin crawling Marguerite bug section where you have to deal with bug nests and running into her and getting caught up in her bug swarm. You can have them back off by doing enough damage to them, but it won’t be forever. Especially when you’ll be going up against them in a boss fight. I enjoyed the boss fights as most of them are pretty fun to experience even though they are hard to survive. Honestly, I can’t choose between Chainsaw Jack fight or Marguerite’s.
While I most likely chickened out originally, I really do like the setting of the Baker property and exploring it. It was a really good choice narrowing it down to this small cast and one location. Not only does it allow each area to be very detailed (at least, in the Baker residence), but really sets in the dreaded feeling that any corner you take means that you may come to your untimely end, never to set anywhere else. The dreaded feeling never leaving and having it pulled to have the horror have a stronger effect to where you can jump by just running into hiding Molded and even the funny moments you can accidentally cause still be a bit scary. Horror is subjective, so it might not scare some people, but it doesn’t just throw jump scares at you as the game does make efforts building the atmosphere.
Of course, it’s no surprise that Resident Evil 7 does have some weak spots and it doesn’t matter how long it’s been out, they’re still noticeable. You don’t really see the extent of Mia and Ethan’s relationship, so while Ethan is dedicated to finding his wife, you might not be so much. Especially after she cuts off your hand while under the influence of the mold (which a lot of players site as the reason they turn on her). There are some holes in the story (which is more apparent in the DLC) and while I was fine with the enemy variety, some have said that it didn’t have as many as they would have liked. The lip syncing is still off and Zoe’s changing accent still bothers me. The Mia and Zoe choice could have been done better or just not have been included at all. It would have been nice if the different route actually took you to a different route rather than upsetting Zoe fans by what happens right after or just not have it be a choice. Either by having Zoe inject herself right away, having Ethan auto pick Mia (as it is the canon ending), or either have it be a choice in saving both by fighting Jack’s even more powerful form or have Zoe inject herself right away (which why didn’t she).
The last boss definitely could have been better as well. By that point you defy all the odds and manage to defeat Jack and Marguerite, escape Lucas, and escape death from the various Molded and just plain getting through puzzles and traps alive. And considering how players most likely learned that it’s best to conserve ammo, especially special ammo, it’s no surprise that players would have at least a full stack of extra ammo (counting the ammo loaded in the gun). Being the big bad, you expect it to be the hardest boss fight, but it’s not. It’s as easy as just shooting your gun. And even if the team wanted to stay with this form, which makes sense considering she would be weak based on the lore you learn leading up to the last boss fight, but it would have helped with making the last leg to her better. Slight spoilers, leading up to where the fight takes place is great, but it doesn’t make sense why she doesn’t put up much of a fight before injecting her (or that she layered her hallucination over her real form).
Resident Evil 7 has a handful of DLCs which I’m sure those that haven’t bought it yet are wondering if it’s worth it, which I asked myself. Short answer, they’re fun. Long answer? They’re all fun and have a range of differences which can cause some not gelling well for those that won’t like that type of DLC. The two that you should get are Not A Hero (which is free anyway) and End of Zoe. Not A Hero is where you play as Chris Redfield right after the main campaign as he goes after Lucas in the Salt Mines (which is expanded on as you go through a door Ethan couldn’t. End of Zoe confirms that choosing to inject Mia was canon and shows that Eve calcified her sometime before she died, but Zoe somehow survived. A few days later, she’s found both by the BSAA and by Joe Baker (Jack Baker’s brother) who is a ask questions later, punch first kinda guy. Which follows into gameplay as you’ll be punching the Molded throughout as you try to find a way to save Zoe.
For the Banned Footage Vol 1 and 2, it’s a mixed bag of being story related content and silly content. These aren’t as needed as the other two, but the story-related ones are a little nice addition that does feel at home with the other tapes in the main game. Vol 1 has Bedroom, Nightmare, and Ethan Must Die. Bedroom has you play as Clancy after the Derelict House Footage and shows that Marguerite has you locked onto the bed to force you to eat her moldy cooking. This is for those that wanted more puzzles and for it to be more difficult as this is basically a escape-the-room scenario, except you need to stay as quiet as you can and if Marguerite is coming back, you need to set everything back to the way it was. Nightmare is a little fun survive 5 waves minigame where you play as Clancy after Jack locks him in the basement. There are various scrap machines you can activate, which you can then use the scrap to buy guns, ammo, upgrades, and arm traps so you can have a better chance at survive the Molded waves and Jack when he shows up. Ethan Must Die is a step up from Madhouse which puts you in a modified Main House and sets you off to defeat Marguerite. Admittedly, I have no chance at getting very far in Madhouse so unsurprisingly, I didn’t get very far here.
Banned Footage Vol 2 has 21, Daughters, and Jack’s 55th Birthday. 21 brings back Clancy and man, he has been through so much. Poor guy. He is captured by Lucas this time where he must play the card game 21 against another named Hoffman. Except instead of putting up money, you’re putting up your lives. Well your fingers first and then your lives. And to spice it up even more, you get Trump Cards that can give you an advantage like giving you a certain card if it’s still in the deck of returning the last drawn card. And if you like it, you can play a mode where you go up against multiple opponents. Daughters is another story-related tape which starts the moment Jack comes back with Eveline and the start of the Baker problems. You play as Zoe as she witnesses her family going into Eveline’s influence, see how the part of the house looked before Ethan arrived, and a bit into how the family was before Eveline got involved (which, she easily would have been unofficially adopted by them if she didn’t go straight to controlling them to be murderous). And lastly, the silliest of them all, is Jack’s 55th Birthday where you play as Mia getting food, and spicing it up, for Jack to fill his tummy. Though don’t forget weapons as the Molded are here wearing some silly hats and killing them will give you more time on the timer.
While Resident Evil 7 have some holes and that there is definitely room for improvement, even 4 years later it’s still a great horror game. Even when I knew what was coming it managed to keep me in a dreaded state and scaring me. And keeping the cast between the Baker family and their property (which let’s be honest, they have a really nice house if you ignore all the mold) was a great idea that paid off well. I’m glad I finally returned to actually finish the game this time around and I recommend those interested in Village to pick this up and do the same if you haven’t already (or even replay it before diving into Village). And if you’re wondering if you should get the DLCs, I at least recommend picking up Not A Hero and End of Zoe; but even then it’s more of an addition that you should wait until it’s half off.