The Resident Evil franchise has gone through some changes over the past handful of years. This newest iteration perhaps gives the greatest example of how the brand has evolved. In Resident Evil VII, the name of the game rarely is running and gunning, nor is it high octane action. The name of the game is strategy, nuance, a slower pace and plenty of terrifying moments.

What is most striking to me about Resident Evil VII is the game’s emphasis on more believable enemies. While they tend to have supernatural or undead qualities to them, they remain more human than not. For me, when enemies cross over into the supernatural realm too often, that is when the intensity or terror can fall off. That doesn’t happen in Resident Evil VII.

Enemies like the hillbilly father or mother often times create a magnificent sense of terror. Their looks certainly generate feelings of uneasiness, as does their size, voices and movements. You couple all of that with the creepy setting of Resident Evil VII, and you have some scary stuff.

These enemies never make you feel like you have a huge change of beating them. The role gamers frequently assume is one of being the hunted more than being the hunter. With this being the case, the game still does an effective job of making the player feel like they have a fighting chance. Even when circumstances feel overwhelming, there are still ways of surviving like hiding from an enemy or shooting them to slow down their movements.

The starring Family in Resident Evil VII (Courtesy of Capcom).

I can appreciate how Capcom chooses to utilize the supernatural in Resident Evil VII. Creatures or enemies do sway into the abstract or unusual and they come across more terrifying because the game doesn’t rely on them. It isn’t like you turn around every corner and boom, there’s some gigantic beast with unbelievable look. This does happen, but since it is infrequent, it makes gameplay more effective for me.

Early on, gamers confront Ethan’s girlfriend and she goes in and out of being possessed by an evil spirit. The sequences that play out with gamers battling the cursed woman are quite intense. With how evil is portrayed through her, Capcom generates nice variety in its antagonists. Furthermore, she does a fine job of presenting balance between the supernatural and more realistic evil.

Scarcity is an element that Resident Evil VII heavily relies on. This is a tactic that in the wrong hands can prove to be obnoxious more than challenging. However, Capcom utilizes it wisely and effectively. Weapons, ammo, first aid resources and more are all available throughout the game world.

Getting to know your environments and searching every last nook and cranny is important. There are plenty of secrets to discover in this massive house of death and suffering. I was surprised by how much more I could find in any given area when I switched between the crouched and standing upright positions.

A view of the house that starts it all in Resident Evil VII (Courtesy of Capcom).

If you are someone who tends to fly through games without giving the world around you a close look, you may struggle with Resident Evil VII and even find it frustrating. Resource management in this game isn’t about blazing through its environments, but more deeply searching and carefully observing. Given the aggressive nature of enemies at times, you have to be quick and careful not to miss an item or two. Doing so can mean the difference between survival and death.

Gamers are able to craft resources throughout the game. The aforementioned focus on exploration and resource discovery is obviously a big part of the game’s crafting system. The system is quite simple and as you collect resources, you can create items like ammo, heavy ammo and first aid kits. All of these items are crucial toward surviving, particularly when you encounter more difficult enemies.

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard does a fine job of slowing down the pace. Sure, players can sprint as they choose, but the game is more about gameplay within close spaces, making for a slower paced experience. This plays exceptionally well when you combine the ingredients of resource scarcity, enemy imposition and resource management. The game never becomes too slow or too quick with how things progress, and this is a big part of how fear emerges as a result.

Capcom has done a fine job of delivering a truly terrifying, entertaining and brooding experience. Resident Evil VII is an excellent return to form for the franchise, and provides gamers with plenty of scares worth seeing for yourself. The game is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on video games.

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that. Contact me at weplaythingssteve@gmail.com

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