Release Date: 12th Dec 2017
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Survival Horror
Age Rating: 18
A year after the surprising reveal and release of Resident Evil 7, Capcom have collected all the downloadable content into one nice shiny package and re-released the game as the Gold Edition. Does this complete package offer the terror Resident Evil fans have been waiting years for?
The beginning, in which the main character Ethan Winters responds to a strange video of his wife Mia warning him to stay away after disappearing for three years, is excellent at building tension. The mystery surrounding your slow trek through humid Louisiana swamp in the sunset towards the decrepit Baker house is paced well enough to make anyone more than a little bit nervous. The stark contrast of the sudden darkness once you reach the inside of the house really unleashes fear – the first time I played this I actually stopped once I got here because I held dread at the notion of moving forward. The game does extremely well at allowing the player to figure out the story as they go along, quite like the original Resident Evil, and as much is told through documents and the setting as there is though dialogue and scripted events.
The story, unlike recent entries in the series, is very self-contained, and it is all the better for it. Capcom have decided to use the Baker family as the focus for all the terror instead of the usual waffle about bioterrorism (that does come in late into the story, but in a very limited fashion). These characters are very well developed during the plot, and each acts as a sort of boss at various parts throughout. From the looming, short tempered father figure Jack, to the bug-infested, skittish Marguerite and their sadistic son Lucas, each of the family are distinct and offer their own twist on gameplay approach and how to frighten you. While some of the more minor characters edge into Tommy Wiseau acting quality, the main cast and especially the family deliver a very varied and convincing performance. Jacks’ Louisiana drawl and his mad laughter is genuinely petrifying when you hear it while rummaging around his grimy home.
A lot of people were taken by surprise when it the game was revealed to be in first person, which is new for the traditionally third person series, and it works incredibly well. The movement is slow but fluid, and weapons such as guns are only semi-reliable, adding to the tension of survival. This is no Resident Evil 6, and the more powerful weapons have very limited ammo or are left out entirely. The game encourages you to be aware of your surroundings, with tons of well-hidden supplies, creeping enemies, and a few bizarre yet nostalgic puzzles. One complaint is that the monsters, while wonderfully designed, become quite repetitive as there only is around three kinds in the whole game. The DLC only introduces another two similar types.
Audio in the game is fantastic, with sparse use of music in place of silence, save for a few creaks, groans, and a lot of delightfully sickening sounds made by the mouldy enemies and damp environments. It excels in visual design, with a level of detail as great as you’d expect for this generation across all platforms. The Baker house is filled with rotten, gross sights. Low resolution textures are noticeable in a few places however, and some of the audio from the guns is a tad tinny sounding.
With the Gold edition comes a plethora of extra content. There are the short story segments, which tie up some loose ends, some extra challenge modes (including the hilarious Jack’s 55th Birthday mode), as well as a card game called 21, on which I spent too much time due to how solidly built yet simple it is. The DLC is a fun distraction, but ultimately all of it is inconsequential, as even the story episodes are extremely short and only took me around 3 hours to complete total.
Including messing around with the DLCs, I spent a comfy 20+ hours on this and enjoyed nearly every moment of it. For anyone who had doubts about where the series was going, this is definitely a great step forward.