RESIDENT EVIL VII: BIOHAZARD
Capcom was ready to serve up some freshly Baked horror for series fans – you’ll never forget your first glimpse of that Kitchen
After the dense lore of Resident Evil 6, it was hard to see where the series could go. The answer was ‘back to basics’. In the same way RE4 stripped back what you knew about Resi to make the game more action-packed, so too did Resident Evil VII, but more drastically. It is entirely in first-person, filled with new characters, and with only hints of the pre-existing lore for most of the game.
What’s most brilliant is it does so while being more like Resident Evil than ever, modernising that survival horror, and once again setting it in a small, detailed, and chilling location: the Baker mansion. You step into the shoes of Ethan Winters, who’s received a tip-off that his missing wife has been seen near the derelict mansion.
Turns out the mansion isn’t so abandoned, and Mia’s being kept captive as an adopted member of the Baker family, whose members have become unstoppable forces of nature. Every encounter with them as you try to escape is overwhelming, and none can be truly defeated outside of certain moments. The early part of the game where you are hunted through the house by daddy Baker is one of the scariest things you’ll do in the series. He’ll smash through some walls, grab you by the shoulder as you run away, and in one section he can even chop of your leg and watch as you use their special healing potion to grimly re-attach it.
SHAKER AND BAKER
The whole game doesn’t involve being chased; there’s a great balance between running scared and nervously pressing on. It even has its fair share of classic puzzles. Each location feels fresh, and family members give unique twists to the areas they occupy, such as the SAW-esque death traps engineered by the devious Lucas. Not to mention the Moulded; though they’re not zombies, they are creepy. These hulking black things, victims of the Baker family in whom the infection didn’t take properly, will lumber around trying to grab you.
As you press on, the frights give way to feeling more powerful, but the arc you move through to get to that point is satisfying – and by the end of it you’re exhausted, high on adrenaline just like Ethan, just trying to make sense of the gauntlet of horror you made it through. You see it literally through his eyes if you play in PS VR, which is supported for the whole game, and remains one of the best virtual reality experiences on the system.
The story is filled with twists, but never gets ahead of itself, staying fairly contained and using hints of lore to give everything a creepy edge. Capcom did the impossible: it re-invented the wheel. Resident Evil VII re-imagined what Resi was, and in doing so, felt truer to that first trip to the Spencer mansion than ever before.
Every time you deal with a member of the Baker family head-on, your heart will be in your mouth.