Resident Evil 7: “Jill, Leon, Ada, Chris, where are you all?” scream shocked Resident Evil fans who have been with the series since 1996. For them, these names are not an empty phrase, but the publisher and developer in the face of Capcom decided otherwise. If we do everything in a new way, then without brutal physiognomies, explosions, destruction of cities and without characters capable of incinerating biological weapons with a pathetic look. The Resident Evil series has reached a new turning point, and this turn is much more twisty than in the days of Resident Evil 4. This is not just a return to the horror theme, which the series never really had, not just the kind of eye that the series and so often met in spin-offs. This is an easy restart of everything that was, for the sake of what will only be. Familiar symbols, names and references to famous events are just Easter eggs, thin threads connecting the new part with the previous ones. It is not surprising that the number “7” was so cleverly hidden in the name on the main logo – new players can safely get into the game without fear of not understanding something or not learning about the world. Just like modern movie reboots: everything seems to be from the beginning, but it seems to be continued.
The rollback to the very beginning was sharp, like a drunken hedgehog. No large-scale conflict, no epic battles for the future of the world. The protagonist named Ethan received a message from his wife, who disappeared three years ago, and went to look for her. Just unlike Silent Hill 2, he quickly discovered it in the house of the Baker family, but together with his wife he found a lot of problems of various kinds. The Bakers are a very friendly family, they feed first, and then they torture. The authors of the game are not particularly shy about making references to the classics – both books and films: Stephen King’s 1408, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, Daniel Mirik’s Blair Witch Project and Eduardo Sanchez, James Wan’s Saw, and, well, , of course, the “Texas chainsaw massacre” in all its manifestations. Looking for such homages is a real pleasure; but to be a part of this cocktail,
What happens after meeting the family, anyone who has ever watched slashers or played some kind of Outlast will guess. Getting out of the house without losing any important part of the body is a relatively simple task, because the enemy, wandering through the numerous buildings of the Baker estate, is not too attentive, and even often forgiving mistakes. Conventionally, each game episode can be divided into three stages: 1) relatively calm movement around the location; 2) hiding from bosses and shooting nameless monsters; 3) fight with the boss or solve his riddles. Despite the fact that the scheme is repeated, conditional episodes can hardly be singled out in any way, because the authors – adherents of good dramaturgy – constantly shift emphasis and try to throw in as much fresh material as possible in new scenery. Either a new weapon for new enemies, or another seemingly hopeless situation, then a plot twist, after which the desire to turn off the game and take a break disappears by itself. The constant journey through typical-looking old buildings does not bother you, because even in well-studied locations, the authors hid something unexpected and not noticeable during the first passage.
Yes, you will have to run a lot, even if the main character does not move his legs too actively. Fortunately for him, all the enemies here are also in no hurry, so there is always time to run away, lock the door behind you, hide and sob. Resident Evil 7 itself is not too long. Those who came to play and shoot, and not to collect secrets and study archival documents important for the plot, will pass it in a couple of evenings. For convenience, bottomless boxes that teleport loot have returned from the classic Resident Evil, as well as some kind of crafting and improvements for the character. For example, here you can find ingredients for creating first-aid kits, psychostimulants (open all objects hidden in the field of view) and cartridges. There are also steroids that increase life limit and reload speed, and backpacks that increase inventory. The return to the classics was not without typewriters that save the entire process, only here voice recorders with magnetic tape act as such. However, the game is much more loyal to modern players who have not caught the era of rare saves, therefore it is abundantly filled with checkpoints. Just in case.
Riddles, as expected, also returned, but they have become much simpler, if not more primitive. The player will not become very dumb by flipping the pictures on the walls, but it will definitely not strain any of the convolutions. Any task here is not friendly with the logic of reality, but at the same time it fits into our idea of the good old adventure games, where the plausibility of riddles was not the primary task of designers and scriptwriters.
You can scold authors for just three things. The first is the arsenal. Two knives, an armful of pistols, two shotguns, a flamethrower, an assault rifle, a grenade launcher, a Magnum and bombs – with such an abundance of weapons, it becomes scary not for yourself, but for the monsters. That is why Resident Evil 7 is so similar to the first part of the series and so unlike modern horror. Will you be afraid? At first – definitely, because you will not have the opportunity to fight back if something happens. But then the game will begin to captivate more with a narrative than with fear for one’s own skin. In a couple of places, the developers will still throw off the arsenal and the hamstrings will shake for a while, but a couple of places in an eight-hour game are quite a bit. It is better not to rely on your own fears.
The second thing is the choice, which is not there. For example, games from Telltale Games give the illusion that your decision will affect something, but it only affects a few scenes and dialogues, and that’s it. With Resident Evil 7, everything is different – in the middle of the game, the authors give the player a choice in favor of a particular character. But this choice is quite obvious: to help a familiar person or someone you see for the first time in your life. No one in their right mind will choose the second option, and rightly so – Capcom merges an alternative history at once, as if confirming the above. This is a choice without a choice, and if you go against the current, you will lose a piece of the plot and the joy of the ending.
Well, the third is the final itself. Too many holes, too many unanswered questions. “What, how, why, why?” – the list is endless and makes you doubt the reality of what is happening. Lack of answers breeds introspection, and as usual, this does not lead to anything good. The story of Ethan is told in an interesting way, with almost no complaints and with a deep immersion in the process. But about the world of Resident Evil, it will not work that way. He has long gone beyond the chamber stories of individual characters, this is something global, and even Resident Evil 7 is no exception. It shows that the world is growing and developing, and biological weapons continue to spread through the black markets of different countries. But you can find out about what is happening around only at moments when the outside world comes into contact with Ethan’s story. And this again gives rise to so many questions that the head begins to go round.
However, if you are not a devoted fan, you are familiar with Resident Evil purely from the latest parts, or even from the films of Paul W.S. Anderson, then you simply will not notice such a setup. Resident Evil 7 is the story of a character, not an action hero. He says little, does a lot, and a plot unfolds around him, which players can only enjoy. Resident Evil 7 is a story where there is no supervillain who dreams of taking over the world, and any of the antagonists deserves understanding and sympathy. Resident Evil 7 is something very familiar and something very far from the usual, like fried human meat, very reminiscent of chicken in taste. Not a step back, not a step forward, but a step to the side, into the neighboring track, where it is more or less free and you can do whatever you want. Where this path will lead the authors is not yet clear, but the beginning is definitely worth it,