Notes on Resident Evil 7

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.

16 thoughts on “Notes on Resident Evil 7

  1. Yeah, the big draw of this game I suppose was the VR angle which made it pretty horrifying. Ethan is infected with molded, I think, so that “explains” his regenerative abilities. Also, the grandma is actually the little girl for some reason. I can’t remember how that little girl became a bioweapon. I think REVIII is worth a play through, though.

    1. Yes, the grandmother is the little girl, which was revealed later, but there still is no explanation, to my understanding, of where grandma’s powers came from. Also, how does she manage to move around the house so much, in particular given her physical appearance that makes her look dead?

      On a side note, for a game as staggeringly successful as RE7, which also happens to be the best selling stand-alone title of the series, if I am not mistaken (RE 5 sold more copies overall, but it was included in various compilations), it was surprisingly sloppy towards the half-way point. This may be the effect of the very strong opening of the game. Perhaps unsurprisingly, sales for RE8 were weaker — I just looked it up and the difference is about -30% but there is obviously also a four-year gap between those games. Still, I think that RE7 had a much bigger impact on the gaming community than its sequel.

    2. Will you playing a different type of game as a palette cleanser, or perhaps just be taking a break for a little while?

      In regards to the convoluted story telling of RE7, I’m sure there is some aspie level lore breakdown content on youtube somewhere. I’d understand if you didn’t care enough to go that far into it, though. I’m curious to hear how you react to Luis’ re-writes and retconning in REmake4, btw. As it turns out, his remake version ends up making him probably the most complex character out of all in the series. A lot of it is subtle, however, and some pieces of information require extensive knowledge of the universe to piece together. At least one important aspect in particular does.

    3. I’ll probably stick with Mr. Driller for a bit. It’s also a nice short game to pick up and play. Hopefully, I can block some time for RE2 next weekend already. At this rate, it will probably take me until next year to play RE4, but in this particular case, I would not mind digging a bit deeper into the lore.

    4. I think you’re mostly going to enjoy REmake 2, man! I have a few gripes with it myself which you have already heard, but even now after beating REmake 4 about 3.75 times I still want to go back through RE2 again. The only thing keeping me from doing so is that I uninstalled it thinking I would be done with it for a while. The RPD section in RE2 is just so iconic, and I think they did an amazing job redesigning it. Btw, I just started up Crimzon Clover in novice and have been running through it as a nice little palette cleanser. I’ve probably cut my gaming time by more than half in the last two weeks, however.

    5. I hope you enjoy Crimzon Clover, which ranks easily among the very best shmups out there. I would recommend spending some time on the Time Attack mode, too. This is brief but very action-packed and great to play for a bit if you only have about ten to fifteen minutes to spare.

    6. I’m finding out that with these hardcore shmups you really can’t take your attention off of your hitbox for a second many times. You have to just trust that your shots are causing damage while you hyper focus on your ship and navigate through all the hazards. However, that’s not enough because many bosses and sub-bosses, for example, have unexpected and sporadic attack patterns from time to time, so the second half of the equation seems to be pure memorization.

    7. I would recommend only focusing on your hitbox when there is a clear need to, i.e. when you need to precisely steer your ship through a pattern. Normally, you should look at an area ahead of your ship to help you anticipate incoming patterns, which entails that you use your peripheral vision for steering your ship. Mark_MSX has a detailed and very good video on this topic:

    8. Okay, this is a really well put together video. I like how he used the eye tracker to give a visual demonstration. I’m finishing it up now. Btw, Crimzon is ridiculously difficult compared to Caladrius. Also, the soundtrack regarding the former is pretty awful, I think. Maybe not so much the choice of notes, but the synthesizers and stuff sound really bad. Caladrius has a pretty top notch sound track in comparison.

    9. For some reason, the Crimzon Clover soundtrack really appeals to me. This is my most played STG, probably by a big margin, so I am not sure what came first, me enjoying the game or liking the soundtrack. Getting into the zone often enough will probably make you like it, too. I just pulled up the OST on YouTube, and listening to a track like “Maelstrom” (0:28:41) conjures up images of this utterly crazy boss fight. I am not sure it has the same effect on someone who has not gotten a few clutch victories against it, though. Make sure to turn up the volume a bit!

  2. >It is a great illustration of the diminishing returns in vidya.I need a bit of a palate cleanser

    I don’t suppose you’ve ever been big on playing simple Flash Games,Aaron? In one of your old threads,I linked a newgrounds game that I believe was intended as advertisement for a PUA product in the past. (finishing the game links you to a now defunct PUA website) It was definitely intended as a simulation of how PUA works if it actually worked in reality; talking your way into the pants of an initially unattracted chick.

    I talk about this because I know of a Flash Game on that newgrounds website you might be interested in giving a go; Exmortis.

    I’ll admit first and foremost though that I’ve never been good with genuine horror games or movies. Personally,I couldn’t play much of this at all when I first tried it out more than a decade ago,haha.

    But I know of folks who love horror and praise this relatively simple flash game for giving that experience. If its one of the highest rated games on this site of all time if I’m not mistaken. I’d certainly be interested to hear what you think of this should you decide to give it a go. Assuming you haven’t played already at any point in the past.

    1. I am not into Flash games but I quite like some old arcade games. Just yesterday I picked up Mr. Driller once more and was able to 1CC the beginner’s course again after a few tries. My next goal is to improve my time and score, and afterwards move on to the advanced course. My renewed interest in this game is thanks to rewatching this short video by Matthewmatosis:

  3. Oh shit. Looks like my post got messed up there,I’ll try to recreate what I wrote in response to your observation of the diminishing returns of graphical improvement:

    yeah. Once graphics reached a certain point,there has definitely been a diminishing return to further improvement. You’ve talked about the Final Fantasy 7 Remake before,and it feels as though we’ve reached the pinnacle of graphical improvement for that particular game. if a sequel came out for it,I’d have trouble imagining how they’re going to make the graphics even more noticeably better than it is now. It probably wouldn’t be worth the extra resources at that point and they’d be best serve focusing on other aspects of the game they could improve instead. (You’ve definitely pointed out a few things I agree with like the boring fetch quests. those need to go)

    Interesting to note however regarding games of old,is that games that opted for a unique artstyle and/or cartoonish graphics tend to be the ones that stand the test of time the best. You can see how outdated the graphics of old games that tried to be realistic as possible compared to today.

    1. Yeah, the processing power required to utilize more triangles and shit has well reached the point of diminishing returns. This is why the focus on visual effects and reflections, for example, has become more of a priority lately. Even in a game like Resident Evil 4 (remake) where it looks visually stunning, the developers had to use this paint effect splashed around on key areas, like crates containing supplies or areas of progression that are hard to visually recognize amongst all the “noise”. So, having a game look all nice and realistic has its drawbacks. Contrast this with just having a cool and/or cartoon-y art style like Breath of the Wild, or something.

    2. An interesting observation with regards to game graphics is that triple-A games most often chase after photorealism as a selling point, even though it is counter-productive in the long run. This leads to long development times and high costs. Yet, an interesting art style like cell-shading is much cheaper and, arguably, visually much more appealing. People still enjoy playing Zelda: The Wind Waker, which was released over twenty years ago. Cell-shading is surely also a big reason for the sustained popularity of BotW.

    3. There’s still something really breathtaking about hopping off the highest point you can find in BotW, and just gliding down while rotating the camera and checking out the entirety of Hyrule. You can’t get that sense of scale in other open world games as far as I know, such as The Witcher, for example.

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