His wife was thought to be dead for the past three years, missing, lied to her husband, in over her head in some sinister abduction scenario in the swampy bayou of Louisiana. Now against all better judgment he must pursue the smallest chance that she’s still alive, or at the very least find out what happened to her. But when she sent communications back home and told him to stay away, it was for good reason…
From the very beginning Capcom’s Resident Evil VII brings a chilling atmosphere to life and manages to muster care for its characters within the player. Taking fan feedback over the years to heart, the title seeks to steer the series back in the horror direction it was born from. REVII Combines some of the best elements of modern scare games with the survival, exploration, detective work, and intrigue of retro Resident Evil games with a healthy dose of action sprinkled on top of appropriate climactic moments. RE1, 2, and 3 were more focused around this balance whereas 4, 5, and 6 notably leaned heavily on more third-person shooter and action elements.
To be fair, the major plot line of the series had led up to this natural progression. It wouldn’t really make sense for players to still be sneaking around after the events of the first few games. REVII brings us to a new plot entirely, enabling a return to form for the franchise. Perhaps the roman numeral numbering of this title was to let fans know that this is something different than what previous RE games had to offer, the start of a new branch in the series.
One of the ways RE brings us back to the old days is through examining objects in a three dimension viewing experience similar to the first Resident Evil titles but now with interactivity. When you show up on the scene you find a purse. Looking at it in 3D you discover something sticking out at you. It’s a driver’s license.
Much of what players learn will be found through VHS tapes scattered around. When VHS tapes are placed in a VCR the player lives through the gruesome scenes of others. There’s no rest after traumatic events unfold on-screen however, as the harrowing journey and ever-present danger resumes. A sense of alertness is instilled repeatedly until the fear of the game’s characters translates to palpable terror in the player.
Capcom didn’t stop at merely resurrecting their roots while throwing in a few jump scares and modern aspects of horror, they’ve taken things to a new level with an overall masterful game design. The scarcity of items is one way that Resident Evil VII keeps players engaged. Darkness surrounding each moment adds to a creepy feeling of suspense both thematically and literally. An inherent helplessness paired with lack of contextual knowledge brings intensity to every single moment and places high value on even the smallest snippet of informative discovery. Emergent gameplay perhaps surpassing the classic entries to the franchise is the result of this cocktail of dramatic theatre that has brought in over five miliion sales worldwide.