I start to panic as my character takes their good old time unlocking a hatch leading underground. He is right behind me: Daddy is coming. I hear him curse at me as he swings a bloodied spade wildly towards my head. I luck out. The hatch opens and I drop down into the claustrophobic crawl space littered with cob webs and a rusted lawn mower (no idea how that got there). My heart won’t stop pounding as I contemplate just staying put for a moment to catch my breath, cursing Daddy for scaring the living hell out of me. I can hear the creak from his brooding footsteps above, and I know I can’t stay here forever. I need to get out of there and find out what in the world is going on here. This is just a taste of the heart-attack-inducing moments to come, and I loved every second of it!
Ethan decides to go looking for his long-lost girlfriend Mia after he receives a video of her begging him to stay away. Reckless, and slightly naive, he nevertheless travels to the swamplands of Louisiana to investigate her disappearance. Once you arrive, all is not as it seems. The family living there, the Bakers, clearly have a few screws missing, as well as a pile of other body parts along the way. You fight them, as well as another form of enemy along the way to saving Mia and yourself. While the game is slightly linear most of the way through, I never felt quite safe from the denizens of darkness. Besides the safe rooms located throughout the game, no place was comfortable or inviting, and I prefer my Resident Evil that way compared to the travesty that is Resident Evil 6.
Speaking of gut wrenching, please do not play this game if you have a weak stomach or are prone to heart attacks. That is a serious warning. This game made me jump off the couch AND scream at the top of my lungs in just the first hour. The first half is terrifying, and the second half keeps the scares coming but does focus a little more on linear level design and first person shooting gameplay. While some might have wanted a complete return to form to Resident Evil 1-3 (this game has a house that resembles the mansion in RE1 and even references to the greater Resident Evil universe that are subtle but brilliant), I adored the blend of scares and stealth mixed with tense moments of action. Even when you are stripped of your inventory during a section of the game, it never feels like it overstays its welcome. The weapons all have a place, and I never felt like a weapon wasn’t useful or didn’t feel awkward aiming. The pace is nothing short of a masterpiece, so much so that I began a new playthrough immediately following the completion of the game. It has its bloody hooks in me that deep.
Overall, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is both a return to horror and a breath of new life to this decades old franchise. Some fans may not enjoy all aspects of it, and I respect that. However, I couldn’t get enough of this entry and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Resident Evil if they continue down this gutsy path.