For the last few weeks I tried playing through Resident Evil 7, but dropped it after about 40% in, judging from replays I watched afterwards. The beginning is quite good but it just gets worse and worse. Instead of a fully fleshed out review, I just want to throw out some notes on this game, with fully unmarked spoilers, as this game is six years old by now.
– RE7 still looks great in 2023, despite its age. It is a great illustration of the diminishing returns in vidya. Even a decade ago, the progress made within two or three years was quite astounding. Thinking even further back, the original RE came out on PSX in 1996 and a remake was released six years later for the Gamecube. The difference between these versions is absolutely staggering whereas five or six years of technological progress today may only make you shrug.
– Thanks to the magic of AMD’s FSR algorithm, RE7 runs great on my potato of a machine. I could run it on “quality” settings at 1050p, and it ran smoothly.
– Mechanics are a mixed bag: crafting feels is tacked on. Scavenging the environment for resources is tedious as you need to squat and move around a lot to make item indicators trigger, without which you like don’t even notice those items.
– The default visibility is way too dark so you need to ramp it up. In combination with the small item indicators that furthermore only trigger when you are very close to an object this leads to a somewhat dissatisfying gaming experience. The first time around, I did not even notice the (black) pistol, the first weapon in the game, on top of a chest of drawers. Even though it was right next to a box of ammo, it was just a black blob, looking nothing like a pistol.
– Lazy jump scares. They only work the very first time.
– In-engine first-person cut-scenes are great but on your first play-through it is often not clear if you are stuck in an interactive cut scene or not as the game very often just takes control away from you.
– Tedious trial-and-error gameplay, e.g. in the main house you have to deal with a seemingly invincible stalker, carrying a shovel with which he will relentlessly attack you. The game also does not tell you specifically where to go and there are several potential exits. As you look around, the game tells you that a particular wooden box can be broken with “something”, so I tried baiting the stalker to smash the box with his shovel. Well, this is not how the game wants you to proceed (there is only some crap in this box anyway). The proper solution is to grab a key and unlock some hatch in the floor, but you have to carefully look around for the key with that stalker breathing down your neck. You could also just look up a guide online, run to the place where the key is located at, and then dart to the exit. (I restarted the game on “easy” as I found this too annoying to play, and I wanted to go through the game myself instead of following directions from a guide.)
– The story is total crap; first the game tells you that the enemies are controlled by mold, then you encounter a girl (who is she? where does she come from? what is her motive?) who can control those people. It is also not clear why some of the enemies are virtually invincible. You can blow their head off or cut them in half, only for them to reemerge fifteen minutes later, reassembled and in perfect health.
– Poor enemy variety. It seems there are only two or three standard enemies in the entire game.
– Slapstick violence. The game is so gruesome that you cannot even take it seriously. The protagonist casually just gets his left hand chopped off. So what then? Easy, instead of bleeding to death you just pick up your hand and put it in your inventory. Your bleeding stump of an arm just stops bleeding after a while.
– Small inventory. This is clearly a design choice, but not a great one. One of the boss fights requires you to pick up a chainsaw and if you do not have space in your inventory, you may just need to discard some items.
– I dropped the game in the “Old House” as I just got tired of it, with yet another stalking enemy you have to avoid. I watched a play-through of the rest of the game, and it seems to only get worse afterwards.
– As a consequence of my bad experience with RE7, I decided to only watch a playthrough of RE8: Village instead of playing it myself. The game looks great but the story is even worse. Without exaggeration, this game has one of the worst stories I have come across in any medium. Not a lot makes sense, even when you accept some of the bizarre reveals. The premise is that next to the house you moved into, in the present-day USA, there is a village that is stuck in the middle ages. I was expecting an “it was all a dream” reveal at the end but instead you got a deus (or demon) ex machina explanation.
After this experience, I need a bit of a palate cleanser before playing the remake of Resident Evil 2.