‘Resident Evil 7 Biohazard’ review: Survival horror is back

“Resident Evil 7 Biohazard” is what “RE” fans have been waiting for.

“Resident Evil” games have been around since 1996, effectively inventing the survival horror game genre. The franchise has made more than 20 main entries, spinoffs and remakes over the years, shifting from slow-paced puzzles with intense, creepy moments to an all out third-person shooter in recent years.

In “Resident Evil 7 Biohazard,” the series returns to its roots and is what “RE” fans have been waiting for.

“Biohazard” follows Ethan, a new character to the series. After receiving a videotape from wife Mia, who mysteriously vanished three years ago, our protagonist sets off to the Baker family plantation in Louisiana to find her.

As you delve deeper into the area, you quickly discover there is more to this farm then meets the eye. In true “RE” fashion, most of the back story is told through files, notes and newspapers scattered throughout the area to help unravel the mystery of Mia’s disappearance.

Many core aspects of “Resident Evil” return in “Biohazard.” First and foremost, don’t be fooled by the first-person camera or the past few “RE” installments because this is not a run-and-gun shooter. Ammo is limited and should be conserved at all times. Movement and aiming can be a bit sluggish, so precision is preferred over spray-and-pray.

The game’s thrills come mostly from building tension, but there are enough opportunities for action. “Boss” battles are pretty cool, and minions known as the Molded stand in for zombies and Las Plagas from past “RE” games.

While navigating this sinister labyrinth, you’ll be required to solve puzzles and find certain animal-themed keys that will bring nostalgia to true “Resident Evil” connoisseurs. Various collectibles can be found throughout the area. Some provide bonuses, while others grant new items for future playthroughs. You can save your game and manage inventory at safe rooms.

Among my favorite additions to the series are VHS tapes, which allow you to play out short scenes as past visitors to the house. Completing these also affects Ethan’s timeline by, for example, unlocking a cabinet.

Item crafting makes its welcome franchise debut. Mixing chem fluids with found items such as herbs or gunpowder can create more effective healing meds or ammo. Because items are scarce, crafting adds a balancing act. Making more ammo limits the number of meds.

Great graphics and unbelievably eerie sound effects set the stage for a haunting game that could be even creepier using PlayStation VR, although I was unable to test it. The heavy controls help bring a sense of tension and urgency while frantically trying to take down enemies.

“Resident Evil 7” is a great survival horror game and a must-play for any fan of the genre.

Available now

“Resident Evil 7 Biohazard”, published and developed by Capcom, is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, $59.99

Ben Manco