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Resident Evil VII: Biohazard VR Review

Unsurprisingly Resident Evil VII is terrifying, and in VR the scares are yet another level deeper, more horrific and obviously completely in your face. Having steadily - and consistently cautiously -  made my way through the roughly 10 hour campaign it's fair to say that Resident Evil VII not only earns, but truly deserves the franchise name. As a game it captures almost everything that made the first Resident Evil so resonant whilst freshening up the formula to create the new go-to template for Survival Horror games to come.

To give context, the game's setup is delightfully simple, providing a straightforward missing person mystery with enough gravity that allows you to suspend your - in classic horror movie form - disbelief as to why someone would choose to enter such a creepy setting alone. What unfolds across the game of course opens up the narrative greatly, tieing it in to the greater mythos of the Resident Evil universe and throwing a number of great twists and surprises at you that aim to disturb, keeping an ever-present air of fear alongside the mystery at all times. Whilst I'll look to avoid spoilers of the plot it's fair to say that like many other games in the franchise, Resident Evil VII's unsettling setting has it's own dark secrets that unfold with the Baker Family estate almost taking on life as a character in its own right.
Dinner With The Bakers Isn't All That Tasty
From a gameplay perspective, I'm happy to say that the move to first person was absolutely the right one. That claustrophobic fear that permeated the first few games of the franchise with it's fixed camera environments, and clunky tank like controls is back, adapted and up to date, with the claustrophobia and disorientation provided by the tightness and closesness to the environment that a first person perspective brings. Couple this with the classic franchise tropes of limited resources, and devious puzzles and you'll feel right at home.

Furthermore the variety in gameplay is excellent and well paced, with quick seamless transistion from the likes of puzzles to action to cat and mouse - read: hide while chased by a mad man - chases. As for the action, the game really balances itself incredibly well, towing the line between giving you enough power to stand up for yourself  but never quite enough to truly fight back and as ever that nagging doubt of fight now or flee and conserve that valuable ammunition plagues every combat decision you make. That said, whilst the game certainly ramps up the action and gives you the ammo to hit combat harder later down the line it never fails to shock, scare and surprise keeping that balance of power on a teetering edge even when the scale is heightened.

So how about VR? Well it's unquestionably an absolute (terror) delight, it feels fully fledged and most importantly VR not only enhances the game in respect to immersion but I'd argue provides a more enjoyable playing experience. The reason being that, with an additional layer of directional control utilising your heads motion you can actually much more intuitively explore the environment. Things feel much closer, almost tangible and of course the scares are even scarier. But for me the greatest thing about playing Resident Evil VII on PlayStation VR was the ability to look sneakily around corners. There were many instances when I found myself being stalked through corridors that instead of moving my character model, I was able - with a great lean at times - to stretch my head and physically look around the corner to see if my doom was impending or not. I no doubt looked bonkers stretching my head outside the boundaries of my sofa at funny angles but the immersion this added is incredible.

Like Classic Resident Evil The House Is Almost A Character Itself
When you combine all these elements what you're left with is an exceptionally well rounded game that is both modern yet classic, engrossing yet horrific and bewilderingly excellent fun. The game is well balanced, highly engaging, with a classicly Resident Evil plot and the big staples of the franchise re-molded into a beautifully modern package that subverts our expectations and puts the horror back into the series that started it all.

Overall Resident Evil VII is a must play regardless of whether you're tackling it in VR or not. For those with access to PlayStation VR though, this is the standout game to prove that PSVR is not only a viable option in which to play complete games but can in fact challenge our expectations and provide us with an even deeper experience that anything that has come before. 

Score: 10/10

Pick up Resident Evil VII: Biohazard on PlayStation 4/PSVR, Xbox One or PC now!

Ben Corbett-Mills | @benleopards

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