Monday, May 01, 2017

Resident Evil 7 post-mortem

I finished Resident Evil 7: Biohazard this afternoon.  Verdict?  Excellent start, severe dip for the Marguerite section, recovers itself after that.  Basically, very good.

More spoileriffic thoughts after the cut.

 The series' return to a full-on old-fashioned survival horror is something I've been hoping for for a while.  While I do enjoy the more action-centred gameplay introduced in 4 (which, it must be said, remains the best game in the series), the gradual creep back towards the Old Ways in the Revelations games was very welcome and I'm a big fan of the way 7 could almost be a remake of the first game - creepy house, little-to-no backstory to fall on, lots of inventory management - presented in the first-person.  The much tighter focus is also necessary, I think, after 6, a game that could have been very good but they didn't know when to stop adding bits to it.

As I said before, it starts out fantastically but dips quite severely during the second act, where you're exploring the decrepit old house that Marguerite uses as her base of operations.  That part of the game's the reason it's taken me three months to finish a ten-hour title: both because it creeped the hell out of me (my slight insect phobia did not appreciate ALL THE INSECTS, and the boss fight against Marguerite is comfortably the scariest bit of the game, in my opinion) and also because it was the hardest section.  At this point I'd got my head round the required play style and was chafing at Ethan's slow, ponderous movement and was eager to get some better firepower or indeed any ammunition at all.  (The fact that I hadn't worked out how to raise the bridge in the waterlogged lounge, making any trip through the house twice as long as it needed to be, didn't help either but that was entirely my own stupid fault, not the game's.)

   Happily, the following section, where you navigate Lucas' Saw-style trap rooms, is the game's best bit.  It's a shame that it's quite short, as I could have happily played several additional hours of that sort of stuff.  Lucas is also the most interesting of the antagonists, probably exacerbated by the fact you later find out he was the only Baker who was already unhinged before they got infected.  The scene where he traps you in the customised pigpen with a fat, acid-vomiting monster and proceeds to provide running commentary is hilarious.

  On the note of the writing, the game's generally a step above Resi's endearingly naff standard.  The dialogue's decent and the clichéd "are you a bad enough dude to rescue your wife" setup is neatly deconstructed when you find out Mia, unlike Ethan, is actually trained in this sort of thing during her flashback section.   I was genuinely disappointed when you return to Ethan's perspective for the finale.  And regards the ending - what's all this then?  A man calling himself Redfield apparently working for a resurrected Umbrella?  I just assumed it was Chris - certainly I thought, "Isn't that Chris's voice?" when I first heard him on the radio - but I'm intrigued by this Internet Theory that it's actually Hunk.  Certainly the man was notably blonder than Chris (and younger, too; unless my maths is wrong, he'd be in his mid- to late-40s by the time 7 starts).  I'm definitely intrigued to see what the forthcoming Not A Hero DLC's all about.

tl;dr - Resident Evil 7's good, I recommend it

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