Resident Evil 7 - Initial Impressions [with VIDEO!!]
I've played a bit less than an hour in my first session of Resident Evil 7. Let me start out by saying that I am not a super-huge fan of the series. Not because I do not think the games are good, but just because I have not found the dedication to complete one since I finished Resident Evil 2. I played RE4, but did not finish it. RE7 is the first time I have revisited the series since then. Part of the reason to me is that RE is, in my heart, a tale about Racoon City, the RCPD, and the Umbrella Corporation. As the series has stretched its wings beyond those core elements and their associated characters (AFAIK; I have not played very close attention), they just have not lured me back in. But it's February. The games release cycle, while presenting a handful of gems, is inherently slow. And because I have been focusing on picking up games outside of my historical comfort zone, and focusing mainly on PC, RE7 wound up in my purchase bin for this month.
RE7 starts off with a cheery video from your wife, who then goes missing. The follow-up video after she has been missing for 3 years, is substantially more creepy. She is alive and well-ish, or at least still in one piece, but is clearly not mentally all there. There were a few points where I did not feel a suspension of disbelief in these opening sequences. I cannot imagine a wife not wanting to be rescued by her husband. Stay away? How about "make sure you bring help?" "Don't come alone?" "Bring SWAT"? I just did not really get it. This is further reinforced when you next encounter her, and she is seemingly not gushing with relief at the thought of being rescued. It's not Stockholm syndrome; at least not the common variety, as she is clearly terrified of whatever or whomever has been holding her captive. It just did not feel like this was a person that I cared for deeply and valued above all other humans in the world. Which also meant I did not have that many issues when things turned south and I had to regard her as a threat. It made making the "choice" between her or me fairly easy.
Graphically the game is pretty gorgeous, even when played on my Lenovo Y50 with its aged nVidia GeForce GTX 860M. But the outdoor scenery is markedly better than the interior scenes and the other human models in the game. I need to put in some more time to get a good feel for the sound. Audio was not coming in through my headphones in my first session, it was actually coming out of the laptop external speakers, and I'll admit that hearing the displaced audio muffled through my Samson SR850 over-the-ear cans may have taken away from any sense of horror I might have felt by creepy audio.
There is also a cut where you find a video tape of past visitors to the creepy old shack I found on the main house property. For some reason the designers then decided to pull you into the video and make you play as one member of the old film crew that was once there in the past. This had the feeling of being very disjointed from the main story-line. I would have preferred this jump-out to have just been a true cut-scene with me watching the video, and for the whole sequence to be shorter. I did not really feel immersed, nor horrified, by playing this past scene out. It made me lose any short-lived connection with the real main character that I was starting to develop, and my thoughts were overcome by the feeling that I was wasting my time playing out a past event. Let's get on with the story already, was the dominant thought in my head.
RE7 is already being touted in some corners as a contender for game of the year. I acknowledge that I need to put in some more play time in this release before I can credibly disavow that notion. But let's face it, I have four other new games I've purchased in these first two months of 2017 already, and more lay ahead. And I have a backlog the size of several galaxies. Geek-time is precious and short. RE7 just did not grab me in these first 45 minutes, and, much like The Witcher, while I can appreciate a game as a total package, games that are a slow burn at the start are tough for me to deliberately come back to. I guess for RE7, it's fortunate that I do a fair amount of my gaming based on randomizing my total game inventory on any one machine, and so RE7 is just as likely to land back on my radar as anything else. But I'm not feeling it so far. It will be interesting to see whether or not the title turns that sentiment around whenever I get a chance to get back to it.