Feel free to watch the video below or to read the review the old fashioned way. I like to cater to all tastes.

I’ll confess that this is the game which tempted me to invest in a PSVR headset and I’m not ashamed to admit that in any way because the game completely lived up to my expectations in that regard. I also don’t think that it was a coincidence that PSVR units, which had been out of stock since just after launch in 2016, miraculously received restocks a week before the game launched. Clearly, Sony knew this game would push a fair few units, but let’s look at the game first before we discuss the VR aspect.

Resident Evil 7 is, as titled, the seventh release in the main franchise. There have also been numerous remakes and spinoff titles. Now, its predecessor, Resident Evil 6, was criticised heavily by fans and critics for its third person shooter style gameplay and lack of pretty much any semblance of survival horror. I, personally, enjoyed the game for what it was, a zombie shoot up. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction in gunning down waves of zombies when you’re in a bad mood, but I definitely agree that the title was a break from the survival horror that the franchise was famous for. Well, if you’re a true fan of the survival horror of the franchise’s roots then fear not, or actually fear a lot, because Resident Evil 7: Biohazard returns very much to its survival horror roots. You won’t be gunning down everything that moves in this game, at least not for long, as ammo is extremely limited and you’ll quickly be left swinging about a survival knife. The emphasis here is on exploration and resource management rather than how many zombies you can gun down.

Resident Evil 7 is set in a backwater, rural area of America, in a complex of mansions and outbuildings, home to the delightful Baker family. They even kindly invite you to dinner. The dilapidated buildings and dark remote setting is perfect for creating a creepy and isolated atmosphere. It’s clear from the outset that Ethen is on his own, after being lured there by a message from his missing wife. The Baker’s complex is cleverly designed with the whole map linked and crisscrossed with various shortcuts that can be unlocked, with most leading back to the central hub of the game, the trailer, in which you can save, access storage and buy new items with the antique coins scattered throughout the game.

Just like in the early games, there are also a number of ‘safe’ rooms scattered around the map with save points and storage chests to access any backup supplies. Be warned, however, that these rooms aren’t quite so safe if you leave the doors open, as any enemies pursuing you will follow you through if close enough. There are no invisible zombie barriers, like there were in earlier games, but this can also be used to your advantage. A number of times throughout the game, I lured enemies from one area to another to lock them in an already pillaged room, rather than waste ammo killing them. For anyone old enough, just think of the butler in Tomb Raider 2. Apparently, zombies are just as inept when it comes to opening doors. Just don’t make the mistake of assuming the Baker family are the same, as a closed door will rarely stop them, but I’ve never had one chase me into a save room as long as I closed the door behind me. A free tip there.

The graphics are stunning when played both through a TV and VR. There is some down grading of graphics for VR and the UI and subtitles can be awkward in places but, for me, the experience of VR more than makes up for its shortcomings. Being there, in the house, really ramps up the tension and being able to peek around corners using the VR tracking is great. I played start to finish in VR and wouldn’t play it any other way. I have heard some reviewers complaining that controls are clumsy in VR, making the game harder to play, but my experience was the opposite. To experiment, I played through and recorded the first section of the game both in VR and through the TV and I downed enemies much faster in VR than I did playing on the screen, as the ability to aim by looking allows for far more accurate shooting and makes following a moving target instinctively easy. However, I was in the happy situation of not experiencing any motion sickness. For someone who does have issues, getting chased around the house by the Baker family, won’t do the stomach any favours, so VR is certainly not for everyone.

I have to say that after playing Resident Evil 7 in VR, I have much more confidence in my ability to survive a zombie apocalypse. I honestly expected myself to panic and fall apart each time an enemy took me by surprise, but the first time I was tested, when I turned a corner and found myself face to face with a moulded, I was surprised to find that I was already unloading bullets in its face before I’d even finished my startled cry. It was, by far, the strongest instinctive reaction I’ve had in a game to date. Without a doubt, I noticed a very definite shift in my play style in VR. I’ve played survival horrors before and usually play a lot more aggressively, but in VR I spent a lot more time hiding behind various objects and avoiding conflict. I actually ended the game with a crazy tonne of ammo in my inventory because I’d been hording it and choosing to dodge or trap enemies in rooms over killing them through a fear I’d come face to face with a big nasty and have nothing left to throw at it, now I slightly regret not unloading the machine gun in some moulded’s face, but I’ll certainly be running the game again to correct that.

Overall, this is by far the best Resident Evil game for many years, but it did feel like there could have been a bit more to it. The moulded, while menacing at first, didn’t much bother me in the second half of the game, to the point that I didn’t feel the need to waste ammo on them, at all, by the end. The Bakers did lead to some exciting cat and mouse chases, but it was starting to feel a bit tired by the time it got to Marguerite, especially if you play through the tapes, as well. I feel that sort of gameplay would have been better spaced out across the game, rather than concentrated in the first half. It doesn’t exactly help people find their VR legs, either, forcing them to run like mad down a corridor while being chased by an invincible lunatic with a spade.

The puzzles weren’t really exciting either, with a lot being about collecting and unlocking doors or playing about with shadows. The Happy Birthday puzzle I enjoyed, but a lot of others felt a bit simplistic and seemed to rely on exploration over problem solving skills, which is a shame. However, despite the games shortcomings, the VR element made it a real experience for me, and as long as you play it with headphones or surround sound, I expect it would still be quite an experience through a TV, too. Without a doubt, I’ve enjoyed my time playing this game far more than its recent predecessors. It’s a true survivor horror game and well worth a play if you’re a fan of the genre.