I’m about all blogged out after that massive Top 12 thing, but I feel like I need to do some follow-up on Resident Evil 7. After completing that article, I basically spent all of yesterday playing it, except for a few hours that I devoted to catching up on episodes of Nintendo News Report. Needless to say, I have far more things to say about it now.
First of all, it’s become apparent that yes, this is definitely a Resident Evil game. It doesn’t adhere strictly to the classic formula, opting instead to continually shift the pacing to keep you on your toes. In general, you’re shuttled between several large areas to explore as different levels or chapters, but you have a certain amount of freedom to move around the entire property as you see fit. It’s not like RE4 where each area gets locked off once you move on to the next chapter.
So, I think the best comparison is RE3? I don’t really know, as that is my least favourite of the original trilogy.
Anyway, about those pacing changes. The game starts off very spooky, but with zero danger, though this isn’t immediately obvious. So you’re constantly on edge about when something is going to happen. And then you pick up a bottle of first aid juice. This is the first hint that the game is about to go nuts. It immediately takes a turn to being ultra-violent horror, where the first enemy continually pops out to cause varying levels of bodily harm to Ethan.
Once you get out of the heavily-scripted Guest House, you’re moved into the Main House, where the game keeps you on your toes with two types of threats: monsters and stalkers. The monsters are typically limited to two smallish areas in the first half of the game, and never appear alongside the stalkers. Though there are some monstrous bugs that will consistently bother you in the Old House, they end up being more like environmental obstacles than actual enemies. The monsters are let off their leashes and become more prominent once you hit the Testing Area, because stalkers seem to be completely gone by then.
So what are these stalkers? They basically work like in Clock Tower or Alien Isolation, where an immortal enemy is prowling around, and you hide in a shadowy corner or under a table until they move on, then dash out to grab whatever item is across the way or to get through the next door. Only you can actually fight back in this game. It’s still not a great idea, because ammo boxes come few and far between, and they don’t stay down for very long. Fortunately, stalkers seem to be stuck to a very strict path, and I don’t think they’ll leave their designated zones even if they’re actively chasing you. Really, though, the worst of it plays out right near the beginning of the game, and the stalkers slowly get relegated to smaller and smaller areas as they’re phased out. Also, the points when they are active are very clearly defined, so you know exactly when it becomes safe or unsafe to explore freely.
Once you hit the Testing Area of the game, it really becomes less about slow-paced exploring and creeping terror, and begins to get into more of an action groove, though not in the sense of the more action-oriented RE games. It actually feels a lot like the original Resident Evil, where once you leave the mansion, the atmosphere changes. It’s still spooky and stuff, but you have some bigger guns to mitigate the fear of monsters, and it becomes a little more linear. Also, you get to face off against the quintessential Resident Evil boss: a huge eyeball-covered mutant.
After that point? I’m not sure. It sort of seems like the game is about to end, but then it doesn’t. And you switch protagonists. For a while, you’re left defenceless and have to stealth your way past monsters. Then there’s a fairly long flashback sequence that is mostly running down a hallway and blasting monsters with reckless abandon. And that’s where I had to quit for the night, so I have absolutely no idea what this is ramping up to.
Hm. I had intended just to do this in bullet-point thoughts. Guess it sort of went off the rails there. Well, I’ll throw some of those in now anyway.
- There are still themed door/key combinations. But they are animals instead of armour pieces or cards suits.
- The crank! It’s back! (Of course.)
- Combining chem fluid with raw materials creates helpful items. There’s also an item that you can use to break down said items into chem fluid, and it seems completely pointless to me.
- You’re forced to make a decision at one point, but it seems like a “but thou must” situation, because the game would progress very differently if you take the “other” choice. I guess I’ll find out when I replay the game. Which I will. Immediately.
- The weapons you find are: knife, handgun, shotgun, grenade launcher, flamethrower, and magnum (and possibly more). Sound familiar?
- I hadn’t considered it until just now, but I will be very disappointed if the game doesn’t end with someone tossing you a rocket launcher to finish the final boss.
- UGH CENTIPEDES
- There’s a part where you’re locked in a room and have to find several items and codes to escape. I died right at the end the first time, and then used my knowledge of the codes to skip the bulk of the process on attempt #2. This completely fudged the puzzle, but Capcom built in a failsafe scenario for tricky people like me. Nice!
- The real boss fights are tough, but nowhere near as tough as the mini-bosses at the beginning of the game.
- There’s an unlockable hard mode (labelled “Madhouse”) which frightens me. But I am very curious about what other kind of secrets are squirrelled away.
- Lucas is a pretty great villain.
- Looking at the list of trophies beforehand was completely spoiler-free. Phew!
That’s all for now, I guess. I think the main thing to take away is that I loved the Beginning Hour demo. Then I was a bit wary after playing the first couple hours of the full game. But at this point, it’s really come back around and I am thoroughly enjoying RE7. I’m kind of wondering if Capcom is remaking RE2 in this style, and whether that would be good or not.