If I could have told little old me what was to come in the Resident Evil series, I probably would have given up there and then. Back then, polygon dogs and Nemesis jumping through windows was the peak of horror in video games. Nowadays, it is seven-foot vampire ladies and just whatever the hell that thing was crawling like a baby in House Beneviento. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard walked so that Resident Evil Village could run. And the rebooted seventh mainline entry is celebrating a mini milestone, having been released back in 2017. Let’s take a look back at the beginning of this new generation of survival horror.
The Resident Evil series is no stranger to changing perspectives and camera angles. Originally, it was fixed camera angles, before moving to an over the shoulder viewpoint. Resident Evil 7 went first-person. This viewpoint had been used before in Resident Evil Survivor, though the reception to this was far less than the mainline entry.
Resident Evil 7 also introduced a brand-new protagonist, Ethan Winters. Ethan wasn’t a cop or a member of STARS, simply a man searching for his missing wife. His search takes him to Louisiana and a seemingly derelict house. He quickly finds her but is attacked by her after she turns violent. She chops off his hand with a chainsaw. True love never dies.
Since changing to a first-person perspective, poor Ethan’s hands have taken the brunt of the violence. As well as the chainsaw removing his left hand, his hands have been stabbed with a screwdriver, had two fingers bitten off and then had his right hand removed by vampire claws. Oh, and he had his right leg removed by a spade, just to mix up the appendage amputations.
After a strange mysterious lady known as Zoe reattaches his hand, Ethan sits himself down for dinner with the Baker family. A classic scene from the Resident Evil series introduces us to father Jack, his wife Marguerite, their son Lucas and an elderly woman in a wheelchair. Each member of the Baker family will proceed to then terrorise Ethan in their own unique way: Jack will constantly pursue Ethan in the now infamous pursuit sequences for Resident Evil. Marguerite unleashes her own brand of flying insects at Ethan and Lucas just wants to torture you.
Whilst Ethan is running around/exploring the Baker household, the mystery of why this family is so messed up begins to fall into place. A mould-like substance can be found all around the basement of the house that breeds humanoid creatures known as Molded (the official American spelling). It turns out, the Baker family are also infected with this same substance, causing them to become horrifying versions of themselves. But where did this mould come from?
Well, in true Resident Evil fashion, genetic experimentation isn’t far away. Turns out the abandoned tanker you explore in the game’s lacklustre third act held a bioweapon child known as Eveline. Long story short – and spoiler incoming – Eveline infected Mia as she was transporting her in this tanker, escaped to the Baker family, aged rapidly and became the woman in the wheelchair. Players will know that her seemingly random appearances in the wheelchair all suddenly make a lot more sense.
Whilst there is a lot to enjoy about Resident Evil 7, there are some things that don’t work. The Molded aren’t an exciting enemy type, and yet are arguably the most common. Then, the whole tanker section feels a very disappointing section when compared to the Baker house. The level design in the house is peak Resident Evil; puzzles to solve, doors to unlock and scares aplenty. But something about the tanker just didn’t quite work. At times, having you play as a different protagonist and stripping you of most collected items just made this whole section feel a bit bolted-on. Almost as if it was side DLC affixed to elongate the main story.
Foolishly, my first exposure to playing Resident Evil 7 was in VR. The switch to first-person obviously lends itself to virtual reality and the decision to build the game for PlayStation VR was a stroke of genius. But I wouldn’t recommend it for a first time run through. Or ever, actually. It is far too terrifying.
So much so that it was only at the beginning of 2021 that I dared to give it another try. And that was mainly because I was enamoured by the thought of Lady Dimitrescu chasing after me in close quarters. But I didn’t want to go into Resident Evil 8 without playing the game before it. So, I braved the Baker household once again, but this time not in VR. Never again in VR.
What I got was a crash course in a modern Resident Evil game. Having not touched the series since the original PlayStation trilogy, I was excited to see that Biohazard had reverted back to the gameplay found in those definitive titles. It is much less action-focused than the likes of the more recent titles and is all the better for it. And it makes perfect sense too; Ethan isn’t trained in combat like the majority of the other protagonists. As a result, he always feels much more vulnerable. The reasons behind him facing this nightmare are purely for love. It just makes him much more relatable.
That said, I think I prefer Resident Evil Village. Sure, it reverts back to a more action-oriented horror experience, but I just think the pacing is far better in Ethan Winters’ second outing. The ending of Resident Evil 7 is the only real moment that things tie back into the wider lore, so Village has the benefit of exploring how and why that is. Which helps make it a better story overall too.
Many would agree that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was a fine return to form for the series as a whole. Having been shambling around since 1996, it is fair to say that for a series as widely adored as Resident Evil is, there have been some hits and misses. Even since the release of RE7 we have had the likes of the excellent Resident Evil 2 remake, the fair Resident Evil 3 remake and the disappointing Resident Evil Resistance multiplayer. Village was even meant to be launching with another multiplayer game, Resident Evil Re:Verse. Delays and a general lack of appetite for it haven’t given it much hope since it was first announced. Still, we shall wait and see.
But what are your memories of Resident Evil VII: Biohazard? Who was your favourite member of the Baker family? Did you brave it in VR also? As always, share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you haven’t yet played Resident Evil 7: Biohazard then you’ll find it on Xbox, PlayStation and PC. The Xbox Store will sort you out if you are looking to spend time with it on Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S.