(Reviewed on the Playstation 4 / Playstation VR)
The first Resident Evil has been an eye-opening game for me, that video games can be more than simple mechanics, progressing through platforms with those fine-tuned button-pressing skills most of my peers did have. Resident Evil opened the idea that dread could also be a game mechanic on itself, how you keep composure on an attempt to break your winning streak.
That’s why when RE7 was announced last year on E3, I was delighted but cautious at the same time. And to hear that from announcement to release is a mere months away, I became more worried. Fortunately, I can say that this game could even trump the original on certain aspects.
Resident Evil 1 was a technical marvel because of 3D character models moving around pre-rendered 3D-looking backgrounds, and combining these elements into an atmospheric horror experience. The same is true to this latest iteration of this franchise. By pushing with 3D scanning, not only that we get these narrow hallways filled with dreadful aura, we can also experience the environments in full VR 60 fps glory. Sure the textures and the polygons start looking like those we see from PS3, at some point even as far as the PS2, the environment based on this 3d scanning technology could never be more immersive through VR, with the mix of fantastic sound design and hyper-realistic light effects.
Any resident evil game could be technical marvels if not conducted like an orchestra, more like harmonizing visuals, Foley, musical score, and art style through story and narrative. The narrative is never confusing. Mysterious, intriguing, but never did I encounter on my playthrough that the story was with that signature Japanese muddling or convolution, and yet still manages to keep mysteries and lore up its sleeve. Narrative is very much heightened on the first half, but since there is an attempt to unravel its fullness at the latter half, the game somehow loses the inspiration and momentum compared to from when you are still being showed around the Baker mansion.
Playing the game on both VR and normal mode could never be any more different, as the VR, although immersive and terror-filled all of the time, could lead any newbie gamer to motion sickness and vertigo. The game does provide customisation for a more bearable VR experience, but be warned that if on the first few minutes, if you encounter dizziness, you are better off playing the game on regular mode. On the other hand, the regular mode loses the immersion and dread that the VR headset has in spades, not to mention the ease of aiming at enemies for shooting, from which VR provides.
The Resident Evil franchise, if to be judged by this latest installment, is off on a good U-turn back to its horror roots, and it has taken YouTube and critics by storm. Back is the inventory management franticness, the slow walk along too-quiet-to-be-safe aisles, and the I’d-rather-run-than-save-myself-wasting-precious-ammo delirium. Resident Evil is back in its form, that made the franchise what made it unique all these years.
A score of 4 out of 5 is in order.