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Review: Welcome to the Madhouse, Son.

November 17, 2018 by Josh | JustASorcerer
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Resident Evil 7 Review

Platforms Released on: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4 (and Nintendo Switch In Japan)
Platform Reviewed on: PC
Release Date: January 24th 2017 (PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4) May 24th 2018 (Switch)
Review Date: November 2018

This article contains spoilers to the story of Resident Evil 7, I recommend you finish the main story at least once before reading further.

Right now I’m playing through Resident Evil Revelations, and I’m really enjoying seeing our favourite duo, Chris and Jill, in action. It’s nice to see some context of what the pair have been through since the Mansion Incident seen in the series pilot entry. It inspired me to go back and really give RE7 the run it deserves. Admittedly after finishing the game on easy, I put it down and left there until just recently, now I’m hooked as ever.

So I thought to myself: “What can I do to give this game a fair chance?”

The answer? Madhouse Mode.

Unlocked after beating the game once, Madhouse is RE7’s equivalent of professional difficulty in past games. But it does a whole lot more than make enemies harder to kill:

  • Item Placement is changed.

What this means is where you thought there were items like ammo, herbs and keys before, now are potentially in completely new places or just not there at all.

  • Enemy Placement is increased.

This means not only are you fighting the strongest version of every enemy, there’s also more of them, in places you wouldn’t expect them normally.

  • Ammo is SCARCE

Like, seriously scarce. You could be running for your life, trapped in a corner desperate for handgun ammo. A box catches your eye, you break it open and behold the sacred resource that is bullets! Pick them up and to your horror discover that you get 2 or 3 rounds tops.

This all comes together to further the Survival Horror aspect because you have no idea what to expect aside from some familiarity of map layout. You actually get points of thinking “I cannot win this fight” and so your flight response kicks in and you have to run from the hordes of enemies. This does not happen on normal difficulty, you can always with some effort take out everything in your path. Not on Madhouse, you run away a lot, with varying success. Some enemies like 4-legged Molded can very easily outrun you.

Now while other games have followed and hinted at existing and recurring characters, RE7 follows someone we’ve never seen or heard from before, in a location we’ve never heard of before, fighting brand new enemies. So, from a design standpoint, the game has next to nothing for previous players of the series to use for context. This could be seen as a way to encourage new players that might be asking “do I have to play the other (at least) 6 games for RE7 to make sense?

When I finished my first playthrough of RE7, (bear in mind that I have played every RE title except 2 and 3.) I, like many players like me, was heavily disappointed that we’d not seen any major characters. RE7 has only tiny amounts of context linking it to any other title in the RE series. With Chris Redfield himself showing up at the very end of the game and with his own time in the spotlight in the Not A Hero DLC. The only other linkage to past games I’ve seen are a book by the same journalist mentioned in revelations, I believe. That and a file found whilst playing as Mia aboard the ship towards the later part of the game that mentions the Raccoon City Incident. Oh and there’s our dear beloved beacon of botanical benevolence: Green Herbs! 🌿 These are a medicinal item that has become a series icon.

Shadow Puzzles! – Image from Game Informer

My thoughts as of right now are that RE7 is a fantastic First Person Survival Horror. Especially on Madhouse Mode. Enemies are everywhere, damn near immortal and genuinely scary, whereas you are squishy and frail little human, with no prior training or experience to the horrors you find within the Baker Residence.

However, I have to say while I can reiterate RE7 is a fantastic game, it is not, in my eyes, what RE has come to be known for. There are quirks and charms to older RE games that makes it what it is. Maybe this is personal preference but I feel like you have some RE “Action” Games and some “Horror” games.

Resident Evil 4, 5, 6, Revelations and Revelations 2 all feature various weapon upgrade systems and a form of in-game currency, while 7 does have Antique Coins, something about them being in predetermined places makes 7 much more akin to RE 1, 0, 2 and 3. Where loot is finite and the survival element is that much more prevalent.

What are your thoughts? Did you enjoy RE7 as much as you’d hoped? Let me know what you think with a comment! A like would also be super appreciated!

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