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The Terror Begins Again

The season of fear is upon us and what better way to start the Horror Game Icon-series then to look back at an installment in the Resident Evil series. Even though Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is relativity new, the PlayStation VR version has had a tremendous impact on the development of VR games.

Released back in Early 2017 for all major consoles and the PC, Resident Evil 7 borrowed elements from other horror titles while rebuilding the foundation of the series from the ground up. The result was one of the best entries in the series while reassuring fans that the series has returned to its horror roots. As a VR experience, Capcom basically set the bar for other VR titles to follow while bring a horror experience that almost no VR title has been able to match.

This is a look back at how the VR version of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has not only redefined horror survival but also being a learning experience for other VR developers to follow.

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A Familiar Nightmare

Set four years after the events of Resident Evil 6, players take on the role of Ethan Winters who has come to Dulvey, Louisiana in search of his wife at an abandon plantation. He finds Mia locked in a basement but soon is fighting to survive when she goes berserk. After the confrontation, he is knocked out by Jack Baker and is now a prisoner of the family. It’s now a race for survival as Ethan must find Mia and escape this nightmare.

In regards to the plot; this is a true Resident Evil experience at its core. The plantation setting gives the feeling that one has returned to Spencer Mansion while trying to survive the evils of unchecked scientific progress. At the same time it brings its own elements so that it doesn’t feel like Capcom was trying to pander to nostalgia. The story does depend on the tropes of previous games and the slasher genre but it’s able to utilize them very articulately thanks to the absence of zombies.

The gameplay is a VR horror survival that respects its roots by incorporating elements of the original games. Players are put in vulnerable situation with resources while having to  juggle between the items they have acquired and their limited storage space. To escape, players must solve a series of puzzles while also battle mutants along with several memorable bosses. Also it’s not a true Resident Evil title without a plethora of unlockable content that adds to the games replay value. The game truly gives players a reason to go back and experience the nightmare again with the rewards of special gears and weapons.

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A Revolution in Gaming

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was one of the most riskiest titles that has been developed because of how relatively new VR was at time. Today; VR gaming is transitioning out of its infancy stage but at the time it was unclear how to make a AAA experience. Capcom was already taking a risk with a first-person Resident Evil game, it took an even bigger risk by also including a VR experience.  It’s success can be attributed to a series of trial and errors in regards to trying to make a first-person Resident Evil game (anyone remember Survivor?).

Back when the market was dominated by art school gimmicks and over priced shovelware, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was the first real VR title on the market. It quickly became the bar set for what other VR developers should aim for. During my time at GDC 2017, VR was the talk of the town while developers were hoping to make a better game. By the end of 2017 and start of 2018, developers were still looking at Resident Evil 7 as the measuring stick for what a AAA VR title should be like.

Despite having set the bar for VR gaming, Capcom has been treating Resident Evil 7 similar to Xerox and the Alto (read this to understand what I’m talking about). They have the talent and technology to redefine the industry but are instead doing nothing with it. They could have made an original IP build around the concept of VR or partnered with Facebook to create exclusive content for Oculus. Instead they have not been that active in the advancement of VR gaming, which is a shame given the foundation they have established.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard for the PlayStation VR is not only one of the best horror games but also the most important VR title that has been developed. It continues to be measuring stick that so many VR developers aim for when attempting to make their work. With the Oculus Quest on the horizon, Capcom should take the lead in raising the bar once again.

Did you ever play Resident Evil 7: Biohazard on PlayStation VR and what are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comment section.

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