GameSpot's Best Games of 2017 has finally kicked off, so join us as we unveil what we thought were the 10 best games released this year. At the coveted #4 spot is Resident Evil 7, which is available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Read on to see why we chose it as one of the best for 2017.
A couple of hours into Resident Evil 7, players will find themselves standing in the decrepit laundry room of a strange house deep in the Louisiana bayou. Dirty rags are strewn around, washing machines are caked in dust, putrid clothing hangs in its dark corners, and collapsed metallic furniture has long rusted. It's cold and dirty, and yet, it feels good to be there. Eerie music plays in the background, with melancholic notes plucked on aged strings evoking warmth and serenity.
Jack Baker, the maniacal patriarch of the Baker family, lingers outside, searching for you. The laundry room provides the opportunity to take stock; check the number of bullets you have, how hurt you are, and whether you have the healing items needed to survive his inevitable attack. You'll have to go back out there eventually, and when you do he will be there. But for a few moments inside that room it feels safe. It feels like Resident Evil again.
In 2017, Capcom confidently showed it not only has a firm grasp on what Resident Evil is, but also that it can modernize the franchise and breathe new life into it. Resident Evil 7 is a masterful execution of the survival-horror fundamentals Capcom established and popularized. It's a game that revels in the unnerving tension of slowly walking through disquieting corridors; the helplessness of being backed into a corner with no way to defend yourself; and the paralyzing fear of being confronted unexpectedly.
It's also a game that shows a remarkable awareness for what modern survival-horror games are. Its switch to a first-person viewpoint introduces an intimacy that the series hasn't had before, so instead of puppeteering characters from a detached cinematic viewpoint, you are thrust into the Baker Estate and enveloped by it. With a limited view of surroundings, the foreboding atmosphere gnaws at you, creating a heightened sense of tension as you warily open doors and turn unfamiliar corners.
And when you take aim with your weapon, it's with a hope and a prayer: "Please hit, please stop, please go down." Each pull of the trigger comes with the overbearing awareness that you've expended a precious, finite resource that will make the next encounter even more difficult. From start to finish, Resident Evil 7 is a desperate, edge-of-your-seat fight for survival; it's perilous and stressful in all the ways a good horror game should be.
From start to finish, Resident Evil 7 is a desperate, edge-of-your-seat fight for survival
Resident Evil 7 also shows that Capcom's developers are very much in tune with the language of horror, and how the smallest details can evoke the biggest reactions. In the main hall of the Baker Estate there's a small fan placed near a light; it's blades spin slowly and at just the right angle, it casts a shadow that can be mistaken for Jack Baker gliding across the room. And as you wander the halls of the Baker Estate, you'd be forgiven for not noticing the pictures of the family, but take a close look and you'll learn that they were once just normal people, which begs the question: what happened to them? Resident Evil 7 deftly weaves the revealing particulars of this mystery into its environment, building to a big revelation in the blusterous closing chapters of the game.
There was a time when Resident Evil was close to becoming irrelevant, estranged from its beloved history. But Resident Evil 7 rediscovers its roots and, as a result, marks a return to form for the franchise. It's a bold, expertly crafted survival-horror experience and the best Resident Evil in years.