Welcome to the Baker House.
I’ve been out of touch with the Resident Evil franchise for a while now, but Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’s new take on the horror approach brings me back to the series once again. I’m attracted to the psychotic rural family, Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe, and the first-person take reminds me of the franchise’s survival-horror adventure roots. The game is a fun, terrifying journey with plenty of successes, but it also comes with flaws too. Regardless, this is still the most fun I have with a Resident Evil game in years.
Steps into the shoes of Ethan Winters, whose wife, Mia has been missing for the past three years. Ethan receives an email from Mia one day stating that she has been locked up at the Baker House all these time, and what do you do when your wife send you a message? You go find her of course! Things are not that easy, however, as the scary hillbillies in the middle of the swamp turns out to be serial killers. And to add the cherry on top of sundae, the place is infested with some strange bio-weaponry. This is a Resident Evil game after all, it only makes sense if some sort of virus is involved.
It’s a simple story where a man has to find his wife, but what makes Resident Evil 7 strong is the atmosphere. The Baker House is disgusting and dysfunctional, and signs of its residents slowly losing their humanities through time only makes the place even creepier. It’s fun exploring the house, and it’s even more fun discovering the Bakers’ backstory. The residents are terrifying, but the game does a great job making us “care” about these antagonists, and finding out how they become the way they are. It’s weird that you end up caring more about the antagonists than the protagonist.
And here’s my first problem with the game: the protagonist. Ethan is a pretty plain character that hardly reacts to situations. The game is in first-person POV, and I know the idea here is that we should experience the game through Ethan’s eyes, but it’s hard to be attached to a person that hardly make a peep.
The Baker family is the first wave of enemies you will encounter in the game. Like I said before, these people are terrifying, and my first encounter with Jack Baker is a memorable one with me scramble frantically looking for a way to defend myself. This is easily the highlight of the game when I’m sneaking around the house as Jack’s patrolling the mansion. There’s even a moment where Jack breaks through the wall trying to find me. Bullets slow him down, but I don’t recommend you do this just yet as it will come back to haunt you.
The members of Baker Family are seriously formidable, but sadly they are gone from the game pretty quickly. The other enemies I encountered in the game is this oily creature called The Molded. These are basically like zombies from the previous games, and they come in variants too including fast ones that crawl around, and big ones that vomit acid. However, the novelty of these creatures dies out pretty quickly, as they’re all too similar to one another. They don’t really have any shock values either, as it’s obvious when they will appear. The only scary thing is that they phase through walls, so even safe rooms are not safe anymore.
The game also offers various interesting gameplay, including a fresh narration style where we get to play different characters through video tapes. I enjoy this a lot, as it reveals more secrets of the Baker House. However, it’s kind of bizarre as it takes away important clues from upcoming puzzles, and it’s essentially spoilers. The only time it really makes sense is during Lucas’ death trap, but other than that it takes away the penalty of unable to solve a puzzle. The game also has a small moment where you have to play as Mia, and it’s a fresh terrifying experience as you have to face the Molded without weapons at all.
My biggest problem with the game is the change of game style. The game begins as horror-central where you’re required to sneak around the house avoiding enemies. However, the game changes shiftily when sneaking is no longer a liable option and you have to kill enemies head-on. It’s still a Resident Evil game all and all, so it makes sense the game will go back to its adventure roots. The thing is, I picked up this game thinking it is a genuine horror experience, but it’s sad to see the game turns away from that half way through and becomes a full-on action game where you feed every enemy you encountered with bullets.
Since I review this game late, I also get to play the DLC Banned Footage Vol. 1 and 2. These DLC are pretty decent, and it offers more gameplay option and deeper look into the Baker Family mythos. My favorite is “Bedroom” where you’re locked up in a bedroom and tries to escape before Marguerite returns. There are clues and items you need to collect to before making the run, but you better put everything back where you found them when Marguerite is back to check on you, or there is hell to pay. “Daughters” is another one that stands out a little. It allows you to see the Backers on the fateful day, but that’s pretty it.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard takes a chance by changing the game’s direction, but it’s still grounded by the game’s traditional formula. Despite the flaws, the game still captures the essence of the original Resident Evil game, and what the franchise might bring us in the future.