Despite the overhaul and change of style, it’s still the same old Resident Evil we know and love. The plantation house is absurd in both design and functionality. With many doors having the most asinine locks known to man. Enemy encounters are both frightening and methodical, with just as much thought going into your ammo consumption as you’d give to landing a perfect headshot. Sadly there’s not a huge roster of enemies to fight against, bar the cartoonish (yet still frightening) Baker family and a couple of variants on the Moulded creatures. This game’s version of the substandard zombie, whilst the Moulded are repulsive and threatening at first, they do become less scary as the game goes on. Still capable of producing a jump scare or two, but never as intimidating as your first encounter with them.
The action moves along at a swift pace, flinging you (literally in some cases) from place to place and bombarding you with new items, puzzles and weaponry at every turn. Much like the original game, as you solve puzzles and defeat the game’s colourful cast of vile villains, you’ll unlock more of the plantation itself. Each new area improving your arsenal from a basic pistol to the series staple grenade launcher, which after all these is still so satisfying to use. Backtracking is kept to a minimum throughout the narrative sections, but it’s highly recommended you do so once an area has been cleared as there’s many little secrets that will often yield better weaponry and supplies. What puzzles there are are satisfactory enough, with one or two being genuine head scratchers, but there aren’t enough of them to satisfy diehard fans of the original series. Many of the puzzles are also on the easy side, making them not nearly as rewarding as they should be. Special mention has to go to the brilliant “Happy Birthday” puzzle that is something completely unique for the series, but I’d love to see return in later games.
Sadly for the purposes of this review I have been unable to play the game in VR, but I’ve spent enough time with it to know that it’s terrifying enough when played on a television. Many of the game’s set-pieces have clearly been designed with VR in mind, but it never feels like you miss out on any of the thrills. These range from a subtle group of insects appearing out of the walls to enemies throwing you down sets of the stairs, both of which I imagine to be more effective with the addition of a headset. In spite of this, I feel I haven’t missed out on anything too substantial by playing it without a VR headset. The game’s many horror moments are so well crafted that they would be scary regardless of how you play it. I’m given to understand that playing in VR decreases the quality of the graphics, which would be a shame as this is such a visually stunning game that it should be experienced in the highest possible quality.
Already a strong contender for best horror game of the year, it’s going to be difficult for many contenders to top this one. It’s a truly nerve shredding experience that will permanently scar itself onto your psyche. Believe me when I say that Resident Evil is back and it’s taking no prisoners. Not a game for the faint hearted but one I would recommend nonetheless, for its outstanding design and atmosphere. It’s a truly fantastic game and an unparalleled return to form. It may stumble at the final hurdle, but the experience as a whole is so wonderfully horrific that it can be forgiven. Seek this game out, that’s if you can actually stomach it.