When Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was announced at E3 2016 I was stunned. The brief trailer they showed looked more like PT than Resident Evil, but on top of that surprise it had a release for January. Needless to say I was excited, but skeptical and these feelings only grew as time went on due to Capcom hushed marketing. In order to get my true thoughts out on the matter I’m going to spoil stuff. Not everything in critical detail, but the more interesting talking points. It’s a weird enigma in that describing anything in the game is almost a spoiler after the beginning, but I digress.
Ultimately I really like Resident Evil 7, but the game is not without fault. My biggest gripe is the name, which is an odd thing to gripe about especially in a world filled with Kingdom Hearts’ terrible titles, but hear me out. This is essentially a reboot of the series while keeping the timeline in tact, which I’ll discuss later. Anyway you’re alone, going through a large estate with puzzles aplenty, and jump scares around every corner. They even brought back the safe room, which contain save points and item boxes There’s a fixed inventory, backtracking, but not much, and you can mix chemicals to create different items. It’s the soul of Resident Evil with a tone more similar to Outlast, or again, PT. The tone itself is a mixture of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and every horror movie from the past decade.
As good a blend as it is the name still bothers me. Calling something the seventh entry in your franchise carries a lot of weight with it. While Capcom could have named Resident Evil something else, like perhaps just Resident Evil: Biohazard, or Resident Evil: Bayouhazard, thanks to anyone who chuckled even slightly at that, the truth is numbered sequels always sell better than spinoffs. Actually I would have respected Capcom more if they just made this into a weird franchise, but one company with two horror series would be weird. At the same time Resident Evil 4 was a huge departure for the games as well plus there have been multiple first-person spinoffs. I think I could argue back and forth with myself over the justification of naming it Resident Evil 7 all day so let’s just move on to the game itself.
Our story begins when Ethan Winters finds out his wife, Mia, has mysteriously resurfaced after three years of being gone somewhere in Louisiana. Her location leads him to an abandoned property in the bayou. The beginning half hour is roughly what one can experience from the free demo. There’s no combat until the end so gameplay results in exploring the house’s past in order to unlock rooms and or fill in lore. Eventually you find Mia, but she becomes possessed, which results in a series of what I would call boss encounters. Eventually after dozens of bullets and an axe blow to the neck, Mia goes down as a creepy Walter White looking dude appears and knocks you out. That’s essentially where the true game begins, but the gameplay loop is not far off from this.
Resident Evil 7 is a combination of exploring environments, solving very easy puzzles, and ending with boss fights. Particular members of the Baker family, three in all, who all have their own personal quirks, lead a part of the estate. Walter White, I mean Jack, is incredibly strong and dedicated to hunting you down much like the Nemesis in Resident Evil 3. Mrs. Baker, Marguerite, has a fascination with bugs and the son, Lucas, loves Saw apparently. There are other monsters prowling about including aforementioned bugs and the Molded, which look like the water creatures from Resident Evil Revelations combined with Venom. Supplies are thin, but combat is somewhat rare, at least for a Resident Evil game, so to add another analogy in here it’s almost like a creepier version of Gone Home. The mystery is what guides the player and while Resident Evil nods are light, things start to click towards the end, which I’m going to clumsily summarize so I can get to the juicy theories.
Eventually you take control of Mia once her and Ethan escape the Baker complex, in the good version at least. Along the way they find an abandoned ship wherein a tentacle drags Ethan away and players take control of Mia in her quest. She comes across a child, Eveline, who turns out is a bio-weapon and the one behind possessing everything. Mia herself works with an organization transporting her until Eveline escapes and killed everyone except Mia aboard. The Bakers found Mia washed ashore, brought her in unknowing with Eveline hovering behind. This is why everyone went crazy. Now it’s never stated what her organization is. Did Mia capture Eveline, or was she simply transporting her for a corporation like Umbrella. At this point it’s not stated, but one can allude to the truth at the very end.
Once Mia rescues Ethan it eventually progressing into the final confrontation of Eveline becoming a giant head with tentacles. You’re only able to defeat her once a mysterious individual throws you a gun from a helicopter, a nod to so many Resident Evil games. Once defeated the soldiers, clad in familiar gear with gas masks, drop down. One approaches Ethan and takes off his mask, which confused me, as his face didn’t appear to be familiar. Seconds later he revealed himself as Redfield. Oh right and they take off in a helicopter labeled Umbrella Corporation. Needless to say I immediately rushed to the Internet for answers.
In the credits he’s listed as Chris Redfield so this could just be a redesign of the Chris Redfield. The Umbrella Corporation was disbanded in 2004 with their remnants scattered across different individuals and originations as we’ve seen throughout the games including most recently Neo Umbrella in Resident Evil 6. Perhaps Chris Redfield and his team decided to buy the Umbrella Corporation name and make it stand for something good again, but then again I think Chris would be the last one to do that. Maybe then this isn’t the Chris Redfield after all.
Fan theories suggest it could be the Umbrella soldier only known as HUNK. He has his same gear and no one knows what he looks like. Perhaps he was a clone of Chris all along. Why so young though? Maybe HUNK has been a series of Chris clones. When one dies another is brought out from storage kind of like the Resident Evil movie universe with Project Alice. If this clone theory is correct it would suggest Capcom might have been more influenced by Hideo Kojima then just PT’s style. Of course Hideo Kojima’s story with Metal Gear is hardly the first to feature clones in video games so that connection is a shot in the dark.
Whatever the case may be questions will probably be answered with the DLC, Not a Hero, due out this Spring. It’ll star this Chris Redfield and it’ll be free so thankfully we don’t have to wait until Resident Evil 8 to find out the truth. Aside from who this Redfield is I want to know what Ethan looks like since they went through great lengths to hide his face. Also who does Mia work for? As for Resident Evil 7 itself I want to reiterate that I enjoyed it. The name bugs me still, but the design is solid throughout and it’s truly terrifying plus it’s gorgeous in a grim way. I don’t want Resident Evil 8 to be like this, but I also don’t want it to be like Resident Evil 6 either. Hopefully they can find a happy medium in-between, but that’s probably far off and we’ll see spinoffs aplenty until then.