Monday, February 13, 2017

A real reboot

Is Resident Evil VII just Amnesia or Outlast with guns? No. It is not as frightening as Amnesia or as full of cheap jump scares as Outlast, though it shares the same 'explaining things too much' problem that Outlast suffered from. Is it just Resident Evil Again from a new perspective? No. There are significantly fewer enemies in this Resident Evil than any previous one, including the original. Large sections of the game, the best sections in fact, are just exploring an area on the way to a generous multi-stage boss encounter.

So what is it?

Resident Evil VII is an actual reboot. Not a half assed reboot like those 'new' Star Trek movies (no one will ever convince me that they are not terrible), an actual reimagining of an existing franchise that pays respect to its source without being slave to it or trampling on its memories. If it would not have caused incredible confusion it should have just been called Resident Evil.

The game does feel like a good Resident Evil game in that the player is exploring a creepy location, solving silly puzzles via copious back tracking, but it has been so long since a Resident Evil game felt like a Resident Evil game that it is more than forgivable, it is refreshing. It deserves the name but it does not beat the player over the head with sideways references to old titles. For most of the game green herbs and a familiar shotgun puzzle are all there is. There are two nice nods at the end that I will not spoil but they, too, are subtle and tasteful.

So it is a better Resident Evil game that anything the series has offered since 4 but it is not without problems. The shooting, especially in the early game when all you have is a pistol, is more difficult than it needs to be. A more generous auto-aim, at least on the normal difficulty, would fix this. The shotgun fixes this as well but that is several hours of game in. Also, the game is not long, but it feels like it is just slightly longer than it needs to be thanks to a lengthy boat section that does little more than flesh out the plot in ways that are not welcome or needed.

I suppose in that way, an overly explained, convoluted plot, it is just like the old games.

Enemy variety is quite low but they are encountered so rarely that I never got tired of them. The antiquated inventory system is back but generous enough that I only had to run back to my magic item trunk once for a key. There is a bit too much of Alma from F.E.A.R. in the main baddie but if you are going to steal something might as we steal something good.

Resident Evil VII is an interesting example of how there really is nothing new, just creative (or not creative) repackagings of old things. Resident Evil inspired, eventually, Penumbra and Amnesia, which in turn inspired P.T., which was abandoned (#FucKonami) and inspired Resident Evil VII. The cycle of unlife, I suppose. Too bad games like Resident Evil VII don't shamble out of it more often.

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