To put it lightly, Capcom's Resident Evil series has undergone major developments and changes over the years. From the survival horror masterpieces such as RE 2 & RE Code Veronica X to the more action oriented shooter-styled RE5 & RE6, and yet here we have another major gameplay element being introduced. Doing away with the odd and often unfair 3rd person camera angles the series is known for and implementing first person view is a huge risk in my opinion. I wont lie, when I first cranked RE7 up on my PS4 Pro, I didn't even feel like I was playing a RE game. That being said, the risk paid off and manages to bring new levels of fear upon fans.
Ok, so you are protagonist Ethan, who receives a mysterious email from his girlfriend Mia, who has been missing and presumed to had moved on to better things in life. The email shows her locked up in a dark room and she appears to be under immense stress and urges Ethan to not try to trace her down. Well, of course, being the wise guy he is, Ethan sets off to Baker Lousiana, where the email was sent from to find his girlfriend and bring her home. One of the first things you will notice is the 1st person view camera from which gameplay ensues. It is more fitting for a survival horror game atmosphere and greatly increases the intensity and scare factor in some situations. The camera reacts very well with controls and pressed by the player and all in all seems to be a welcome feature to the series. The setting takes place on a farmhouse in the middle of a swampy region of Louisiana. Right away, the atmosphere feels especially haunting and gloomy, and the designs of the enviironments you encounter are beautiful and harrowing. This is by far the scariest Resident evil game to date and not just cliché jump scares either. There are moments throughout the game where you may have to proceed through a very dark area or room knowing all too well "something or someone is about to scare your britches off. To be frank, none of the other RE titles have ever really truly scared me, besides RE2, which had a very eerie vibe to it at times, but RE7 is extreme, and should not be pursued by the weak of will. Instead of slow predictable zombies creeping ever slowly at you, you will be chased by psychopathic freakshows who are all family and seem to have some sort of superhuman strength and healing ability.
The very dark lit walkways and rooms that you are forced to enter coupled with the terrifying cast of Manson family villains and awesome audio system reimagine how scary the RE series could be turned. The system of backtracking for items and item inventory make a return and can honestly be a bit of a bother. I mean Ethan can only hold like 5 or 6 things from the beginning of the game, although it will improve as you progress, it still sucks to constantly make trips to put items in chests that also make a return in RE7. Save rooms are always safe and monster free and can be noticed by the key audible song that plays when you enter. But on the other side of that, all hell could unleash. Also, there are a couple of puzzles that are not too elaborate and one of them shows creativite thinking by producers. However, the lack of enemies is a huge disappointment especially not featuring any true form zombies, which is what the series is known for. There are no enemy types besides the 3 family psychos who are more like bosses than anything, and 2 other enemy types that resemble black slimy freakazoids. And all of these enemies move fairly quickly so fans of the slower styled RE experiences may have a bitter pill to swallow when seeing the fast pace of some chase scenes and battles which require a lot of lateral movement. The weapons are varied and item selections were done very interestingly. You can now combine many different types of items and make First Aid Kits, Weapons Upgrades, and many other useful items for your quest.
Also, if it feels like you are just getting every sliver of hope snatched away as soon as you get in your grasp, that's because it is. RE7 makes you feel the dread and horror the Baker family is producing. On harder difficulties, it can be very taxing to just get enemies to stay down. In fact, running is a smart option at times as bullets are a rare commodity on RE7 even more so than on previous RE games. Also, the main issue I had was the lack of the previously laid out lore and story and characters from other RE games. while there are references and hints to the other happenings of RE games, there is not a whole lot related here and this draws away from the experience I was hoping to have. I love Resident Evil, and I don't think RE7 is a bad direction at all, but I do think too much got sacrificed in terms of being scarier that took away from me njoying the gameplay and exploration like I normally get to indulge in on Resident Evil titles. With DLC that is super creepy out now too, RE7 is a great horror masterpiece that manages to pull the series out of the slump that it was in, but at the same time, an experience that feels too far from what RE originally started out as. All in all, a horror classic that RE vets or first timers could pick up and enjoy.