Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (PC, PS4, SWITCH, XBOX ONE)

“Welcome to the family, son.”

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

Now, I am a big fan of the original Resident Evil series (games 1,2 & 3) and to some extent number 4, less so 5 & defiantly did not enjoy no. 6. This downward spiral of quality was why I was reluctant to pick up Resident Evil 7 at it’s initial release, but in fairness the more I heard about it the more praise I heard about it. So once I found the game on sale I picked it up and finally gave it a go, here’s what I thought of it.

Resident Evil 7 takes place in Dulvey, Louisiana. It’s here that Ethan Winters finds himself after he received an email from his wife Mia who went missing 3 years ago. His search leads him to an old, abandoned plantation. It’s here that Ethan finds Mia who at first is glad to see her. She then suddenly attacks Ethan taking a chainsaw to the hand, losing it in the process. Ethan must now figure out what is going on, how cure Mia and how to survive the Baker family.

First thing’s first, the game does not feel like a Resident Evil game of the past. A lot of moments, especially at the beginning of the game feel less survival horror and more just plain horror. Also compared to a lot of other more modern horror games, the games does it really well. For the first half of the game I was absolutely bricking it in fear of what my be lurking around the corner. The game oozes atmosphere and coupled in with the new 1st person camera you get a real sense of immersion. There was even a couple of times I had to stop and mentally prepare myself before heading around a corner. After about an hour though the feeling of dread did subside as enemy appearances became more predictable and I became better equipped to deal with said enemies.

There wasn’t a lot I didn’t like about Resident Evil 7. My main gripe with the game was movement of the player. There was a lot of times where I felt Ethan wasn’t moving with much urgency, especially when I’m wanting him to turn around a corner. I understand that Ethan is just an ordinary guy and as such hasn’t received any kind of special training, but still in a house of super mutant murder hillbillies I’d expect him to move like his life depends on it rather than like he’s having a lovely stroll through the woods.

Speaking of lovely strolls through the woods, The scene at the very beginning of the game bared both a lot of similarities and contradictions to the start of What Remains of Edith Finch. Both start out as walking simulators where the player is walking through the woods, however where as in Edith Finch there’s a sense of adventure, wonderment and tranquility RE7 fills the player with tension, suspense and anxiety as to what the player might suspect. I think it’s quite interesting how two games of very similar mechanics can distill opposing feelings.

Back to the topic at hand, I would recommend Resident Evil 7 to those who enjoyed the Silent Hill games or in fact any kind of horror game. Although I wouldn’t to those who are die hard fans of the Resident Evil series. In that respect it reminds me of Silent Hill 4: The Room, they are both great games but they also both feel very disjointed from it’s series lore, both feeling very off cannon. I just hope that Resident Evil doesn’t fuck it up the series again by trying to bring the cannon back in newer games… What? Chris Redfield is in Resident Evil Village? I guess some people just don’t learn.

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BONUS CONTENT: Game of the Year 2017

Hopefully those who guessed incorrectly last years game of the year can do a little better this time around. As far as I’m aware the 5 games below are the only ones I’ve played from 2017 (EDIT: I actually played Mass Effect Andromeda as well but the less said about that the better) and of them only 1 of them deserves the Game of the Year title. They are as follows.

2017:

Nominees:

  • Crash Bandicoot N-sane Trilogy
  • Destiny 2
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
  • What Remains of Edith Finch

Winner:

What Remains of Edith Finch

Given the competition this one was a no brainer. Destiny 2 bored me so much I put it down without ever getting to the end. Uncharted was forgettable (I actually did forget about it until I re-read my writing before posting). Crash Bandicoot and Horizon Zero Dawn were both good but What Remains of Edith Finch just blew me away. The game was gripping, engaging and told a brilliant story in a brilliant, compelling way. It’s only downside was that there wasn’t any more.

Horizon Zero Dawn (PC, PS4)

Last week I mentioned in my IMDB “Must Play” post that Horizon Zero Dawn is a must play on PS4. Upon reflection I thought that this would be a good opportunity to evaluate on this statement. Also taking into account that the game was released not too long ago on PC, It does make the review a bit more relevant, so without further or do lets get on with it.

Horizon Zero Dawn tells the story of Aloy. A young female hunter who’s tribe is attacked by a cult wielding corrupted machines called Eclipse due to her resemblance to an old world scientist. It is then that she is told of the strange circumstances of how she came to the tribe. Aloy then sets off to discover her past, what part she plays in the fate of the world and the truth behind Eclipse and what they are planning. Throughout her journey Aloy must face the perils of the environment, savages as well as that of the robotic wildlife roaming the wilderness.

The game set less in a post-apocalypse world and more of a post-post-apocalypse. The world is bright, luscious and vibrant, with wildlife galore. Although to be fair not all of it is made up of flesh and bone, but we’ll get to that later. The scenery is varied (maybe even too varied) as in easy access by foot we have rolling green fields; towering, snow capped mountain ranges; vast, rocky deserts; dense, thick woodlands and overgrown, old world ruins. With how visually stunning the environments are I can’t help but think the game is just showing off wanting to show off it’s range of landscapes.

Like most AAA games these days, Horizon Zero Dawn is an open-world action adventure with RPG elements. This means you know what to expect, optional side-quests, collectables, crafting, un-lockables, combat choices so on and so forth. Although as far as combat choices go, you have 2. Either put your stats in ranged and stealth or die a lot. Although to be fair I thought this would have been a given in any game involving fighting large robots. Anyone that thinks it’s a good idea to charge at a towering robo-saurus is either a psychopath, completely fearless, a moron or d) all of the above.

Speaking of our heavy-metal adversaries. They feel very much like the selling point of the game. The meat between the bread and butter in our open-world action adventure with RPG elements sandwich, sadly though it’s not quite enough to make us a hearty lunch. As much fun as it is to separating a Thunderjaw from it’s beloved disc launcher then proceed to give it a taste of it’s own medicine it’s hardly enough to hold the game up. The story as intriguing as it is, is just bland. The same way as finding a hobnob in your pack of rich teas is intriguing but it’s hardly going to get you a New York Times best seller.

The main problem that Horizon Zero Dawn faces is that although it is a good game, it’s not a great game. What the game does well has been done better by other games before it. It just can’t compete with games like The Witcher 3, Mass Effect or Zelda: Breath of the Wild which stand head and solders above other games of a genre so dense it’s close to critical mass. The game is at it’s best when it’s not trying to be another face in the crowd. When you pull off a perfect slide dodge followed by an instant kill shot or scraping together the last of your resources to finally take down that Stormbird that’s been holding up your progress. Those moments are unique to this game are when it comes alive and reveals it’s true colours. So I guess the moral you can take away from this is that it’s best to be yourself rather than a knock-off of someone else.

What Remains of Edith Finch (PC, PS4, SWITCH, XBOX ONE)

This week I’ve not been in a position financially to pick up any new games. As such I went through my back catalogue of PSPlus games that I’ve downloaded when they were free and just not got around to playing them. This game peaked my interest more than the other so I decided to look into it. After a little research (checked the wikipedia page) and saw that it won the BAFTA for Best Game in 2017. That cemented my decision to give it a go and here is what I found.

What Remains of Edith Finch takes place on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington State. It tells the story of Edith Finch’s return to her old family home which she inherits after her mother passed away. She intends to return to the house in order to find out the truth behind the strange happenings and incidents that befell her family. The game plays through the tragedies that befell each of the Finch’s starting from her great grandfather Odin Finch all the way though to present day.

The tone of the game is set from the very beginning as you make your way up to the house. The feelings of isolation and apprehension that are instilled into the player as you walk through the woods up to the old, crooked house. You know at that point that the game is going to be very atmospheric and story driven and in no way is it going to be all rainbows and sunshine. The game-play is quite minimalist with only a few controls available to the player, move the player, move the camera and an action button. I find it very effective in allowing the player to concentrate more on the narrative.

The story is mainly told through narrations, mostly by Edith herself. The rest is done in segments by each of the Finch family moments before their tragic end. Each segment plays out very differently from person to person. For example, Sam Finch was an amateur photographer so his story is told through photographs while Barbara Finch was a child movie star so her’s is told in the style of a comic book. This makes each segment feel a bit more personal and stops the game from becoming stale. This is also helped by the length of the game, it being easily completed within a couple of hours. Although I’m not sure what to make of this. I left the game wanting more but there was nothing more to tell, like getting to the end of a box of Jaffa Cakes and being 2-3 cakes short of being completely satisfied.

To round it all up, I’ve seen a few reviews of the game stating it as a example of video games as an art form and I must confess that I do agree. The atmosphere and the environment do wonders to immerse the player into the role of each of the family members, however some segments are more immersive than others. For example I found Molly’s segment a little disjointed while Lewis’s on the flip side really stood out as being equally engaging and harrowing. In a sentence it’s a great story told in a great way and if you can find it for a great price… Great.