Review: ‘Resident Evil 7’ Looks Backward for Better and Worse

This is where Resident Evil indispensable to go. Back to ominous shadows on unfair wallpaper and panting crawls underneath gungy floorboards. Back to residential spaces condemned by religious ideograms and a sinister footfalls of opposite things. Back to a place where difference like “Wesker” or “Redfield” or “Raccoon City” competence as good be problematic incantations.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, a presence fear diversion out Jan 24 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, starts as so many reboots do: by stripping divided years of authorization expectations. The final few installments’ dalliance with run-and-gun movement and tellurian baleful muddles is no more, supplanted by unique locales and a creeping first-person viewpoint where even sprinting has a intonation of a crippled jog. Unearthly creatures and fight remain, yet these take a backseat to puzzles premised on a arrange of contented sourroundings crawls pioneered by journey games of a 1980s.

Director Koshi Nakanishi, whose proceed to 2012’s Resident Evil: Revelations concerned identical principles, executes these ideas best during a game’s tabula rasa outset, when all there is to see are bug-covered Louisiana wetlands, decayed dwellings and a solid march of droughty bodies. The protagonist arrives from nowhere in particular, a gradually weaponized naught in hunt of his blank lover. What he finds instead is a cult. But distinct Resident Evil 4‘s Cthulian mobs, all here has been strong to a goofy family with a predilections of a Jigsaw Killer in Saw.

It’s a neat trick, pitting players one-on-one opposite a handful of sadistic, supernaturally absolute miscreants who ramble a setting’s insinuate rickety passageways like Diogenes’ wandering siblings. And it works while they’re core theatre for a game’s initial half-dozen hours, when what you’re mostly meditative about is simply how to get from one impulse to a subsequent though sketch their terrifying attention.

But this is gaming’s many storied presence fear authorization — definition during some indicate it’s got to tie behind into a metafiction. And so Resident Evil 7 does a best to make those connections, escorting players off by a swamps to an area suggestive of aloft sequences in Frictional Games’ Soma, before overhanging turn to a coda that’s as rote as they come. There’s even an unpleasant “player reset” method that arbitrarily strips we down, afterwards asks we to scrounge your approach behind to fight competency though so many as a gameplay wrinkle. Well wrought endings are singular things, goes a cliché, to that Resident Evil 7 brooks no argument.

Doing conflict with a peculiar jump-scare beast feels primarily uninformed for a spareness—a handful of maneuvers related to obsolete m�lange weapons and a smattering of unexceptional guns. This is Resident Evil as gifted by an everyman, a operation and fluidity of suit unerring by a protagonist’s Average Joe-ness. It’s also satisfying, if uninventive, to learn enemies can be infirm in suit to whatever physique partial has been shot off — yet in a end, a inevitable efficiency of headshots creates this mostly moot.

What’s engaging here is that a before games so inbred a hypothesis that medicine and ammo are changed over diamonds, that if we play Resident Evil 7 even half as cautiously, you’ll spend a game’s latter half with an annoyance of riches. Save points and storage containers are ubiquitous, as is a choice to reshuffle if we die during pivotal battles, holding all a breeze out of register management. Factor in a ridiculously forgiving repairs model, including an choice to lessen damage by “blocking” blows, and many of a game’s threat fades. (I played on a “normal” problem setting. There’s one higher, yet we have to finish a diversion to transparent it—another pet peeve.) we wouldn’t go so distant as to call Resident Evil 7 “casual presence horror,” yet it’s in that direction.

Some things are easier to admire, like a crafty and wholly discretionary thing a diversion lets we do with certain VHS tapes (to contend some-more would spoil things). Or a severe and prepared universe pattern with a importance on fast, naturalistic visuals. And we adore a thought of carrying to block off in artfully compelled spaces with a handful of dogged, behaviorally abominable enemies. Had Capcom grown a knowledge some-more quite around a latter, I’ll peril we’d be carrying a opposite conversation.

But they didn’t, and so it’s tough to contend who this diversion is for. Casual players aren’t touching something with a “7” in a pretension (nor is it transparent will newcomers). Fans of action-angled presence fear like Dead Space or Dying Light might frustrate during a game’s deliberately poky controls and too simply grasped opponents. Old-school fans seem like a apparent target. But presence fear is a swarming space in 2017, and too many of what Resident Evil 7 is adult to we’ve seen elsewhere — and finished better.

2.5 out of 5

Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro. Pre-order here: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

(Read TIME’s associate couple policy.)

Write to Matt Peckham during

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