Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (PS4) Review

We end this final Resident Evil Week with the last mainline entry not to covered here on this blog: RE VII (though this goes up on the day Resident Evil VIII is released, which I won’t be able to review for a few weeks due to actually having to play it, so… bugger) Biohazard was somehow simultaneously a return to the classic games while also having a completely different viewpoint: first person. How can that be?! Let’s have a look…

Background:

Yeah… most of these screenshots will be very dark… as in literally low-in-light, not that it’s not also a dark story!

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (I assume just known as Biohazard VII in Japan?) was released in January 2017 for the PS4, XBOX One and PC, then a Switch port arrived in May the following year, though only in Japan and only via a partially downloaded, partially streamed service…  Oh and a Stadia released happened earlier this month (April 2021) apparently, I’m surprised that’s still a thing.

Gameplay:

Ethan slaps on some hand sanitizer before going anywhere near THAT. Safety first!

As mentioned the whole game is done in first person, and not in a Doom or COD way where it’s mostly just a gun hovering around the bottom of the screen, this is very much intended to be a V.R. experience, with hands waving, characters grabbing the screen as if it’s your face and lots of other bits. I don’t have a V.R. kit so I can’t tell you how well it works like that, but it’s still a fun game without. The first quarter-to-third of the game is pretty much entirely exploring the creepy Baker House, with a few jump scares and horrifying cutscenes sprinkled in, but eventually you get melee weapons and guns and start fighting mutated people and big bosses. What made this feel far close to the original games is the return of some familiar elements that have been gone for a long time: you only have so many item inventory spots, you can store items in chests that share the inventory across multiple locations, and there are several places you can’t get to without solving a puzzle or going back to when you have the right key with the correct symbol on it. It was a moment when I finally got a key to get to a distant shack-like area that I suddenly felt a rush of original RE nostalgia, despite the shift in perspective.

That’s about it, gameplay-wise. I hate having such a small section for the key part of the game, but it’s just a first person survival horror game with very few gimmicks so there isn’t a lot of detail to go into. In fact that would be my only complaint: it’s quite short and there are no bonus modes to speak of. Still a fun core experience, but a short one.

Graphics and Sound:

Ugh, I don’t care if it’s just laying in the fridge, time to gun it to all hell!

The graphics are great, really dirty, grimy and generally unpleasant to look at, in a good way given the genre. The people are horrifically detailed as well, making it all the more unnerving when they suddenly grab you (even more so in V.R., I imagine).

Sound is good, not too much background music to preserve the feeling of creeping terror as you slowly open doors in the house not knowing what lies behind them, then some unnerving music will suddenly play while you’re being stalked by something terrible. Voice acting is top class as well.

Story:

A lovely dinner scene at the Bakers.

Ethan Winters suddenly hears from his wife Mia, who had gone missing several years earlier. The message leads him to a derelict house in the middle of nowhere, eventually meeting the house’s residents: the Baker family, all of whom are clearly mutated in some way and on the insane side of the spectrum. Ethan also reunites with Mia, who has also become insane and somewhat feral, leading to Ethan trying desperately to escape either with or without Mia. Canonically he gets a single dose of a cure and gives it to Mia, the two leaving the Bakers behind and before finding out the truth behind the whole matter: A group only known as “The Connections” created an intelligent B.O.W. known as Eveline who had the ability to mentally manipulate people via mould-like spores, which is exactly what she did to the Baker family and Mia, just wanting to finally have a family of her own…

Ethan finds her hidden laboratory in an abandoned salt mine and discovers how to stop her, eventually injecting her with an antivirus that only manages to make her mutate into a gigantic monster. Chris Redfield (who for reasons unknown looks NOTHING like Chris Redfield) arrives and throws Ethan a special type of gun that soon takes care of the beast. Ethan and Mia are saved by “Blue Umbrella”, the new company Chris works for, as Mr. Redfield himself heads into the mine with some unfinished business. It turns out Lucas Baker, the “son” of the family, was a “man on the inside”, was actually immune to Eveline’s Mould and was sending detailed reports to an unknown party. Chris stops him from sending the information and kills him when he too mutates.

It’s fine, a smaller, more personal story than the near-world ending plots of Resi 5 and 6…

Downloadable Content:

This place needs a serious scrub!

There were some stand-alone “Found Footage Tapes” and two scenarios, all of which were free, weirdly enough! The two scenarios were “Not a Hero”, which is the previously mentioned continuation of the plot with Chris Redfield, and the latter is “End of Zoe”, which follows Zoe, the daughter of the Bakers, and her uninfected Uncle Joe as they struggle to find a cure for Zoe that will allow her to live. I’m not 100% sure if this is canon or not, however…

Thoughts Now:

I’ll never get the plastic doll thing. It’s just not scary! They’re children’s toys on some string…

Once again no need for the “Then and Now” sections, my thoughts are much the same from when I first played it anyway: It’s good! A return to the more horror-based routes with some fun callbacks to the original games and some really unnerving set pieces. It’s a bit short and a lack of any other modes hurts, but not too much…

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