The Alien Critic Reviews...
The Alien CriticReviews...

TAC Reviews...Resident Evil VII: Biohazard + DLCs

 

Not being familiar with Resident Evil games I have to say that I don’t know how this game links into the canon of the previous titles. Is it a sequel?? A reboot?? Set in a parallel universe to the original games?? I had absolutely no idea when I started playing it, basically I picked it up because it looked interesting and good fun to play.

 

"Welcome to the Family"

 

Below you will find my thoughts on:

 

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

Resident Evil VII: Not a Hero

Resident Evil VII: Banned Footage Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

Resident Evil VII: End of Zoe

 

TAC Reviews...Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

Date Posted: 04/01/18

 

Released in 2017, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard serves as a reboot to the Resident Evil franchise. I have actually had this game sitting on my shelf for months but I haven’t just found time to play it yet. But I decided that this year (2018) I was going to play it before I played the sequel to The Evil Within. This game centres more on survival horror unlike the more action oriented Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, I haven’t played either of them but apparently the survival horror roots of the franchise have been lost in recent additions of the franchise.

 

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard Cover Art

 

I remember way back when the PS1 was still called the Playstation and I started playing Resident Evil. It was not a game that I would come to remember fondly as I abandoned it after wasting most of my starting ammo on killing the first zombie I encountered. It turned out that I was supposed to run so the zombie could be killed as part of a cut-scene (which I didn’t know at the time). As I was left with no ammo and kept getting killed by zombies I decided I couldn’t be bothered with the game so cast it aside unfinished. When playing a horror game I like to be able to respond to a given monster leaping out of the shadows by blasting its arms and legs off like in Dead Space, or shooting a flaming crossbow bolt into its face like in Evil Within, you know something constructive. It seemed therefore that survival horror wasn’t really my thing as my first instinct is to shoot something chasing me, not run from it…so I suppose you could say that me and survival horror games just don’t get along.

 

Survival horror became an ignored genre for me, something that was not part of my world

 

Then Alien Isolation was made, I am a big fan of the original Alien film and the prospect of sneaking around a derelict space station as the ultimate killing machine stalks you was too tantalising a prospect for me to ignore. I played the game and it was everything that I hoped it would be. The Alien learned from my behaviour meaning I had to adapt my tactics for dealing with it as the game progressed, it was un-killable, and best of all there was no real way of fighting it. The flame-thrower was a mixed blessing, yes, it was possible to prevent the Alien from killing you with a well timed blast of fire, but the more you used it the less the Alien retreated from it. Use it too much and the Alien would simply stand there, or back away, only to start stalking towards you again the moment the flames ceased. It was a game I played for the PS3 and one that I repurchased when I upgraded my console to the PS4 so I could play it again.

 

So Alien Isolation opened my eyes to survival horror in which you cannot fight, and must spend most of the game hiding or sneaking. When Resident Evil VII came out it appeared to have more in common with Alien Isolation than any previous Resident Evil, which seemed to me to be a good thing. Like I said I played the initial bit of the first game and whilst I have downloaded the re-mastered version for my PS4 I haven’t gotten round to playing it just yet so I really have no idea what happened in the other Resident Evils. However, from what I understand this game serves as something of a reboot of the series so prior knowledge of the game series might not be necessary. Therefore as I started playing this one I had no idea about what has happened in the others, and this is my first real Resident Evil gaming experience

 

What are we doing in this game, you ask, well allow me to tell you…

 

The game opens with a woman tearfully telling a man named Ethan to stay away, and not come looking for her. Still there must be something of a miscommunication because we then cut to a lonely road with a voice over from Ethan telling someone that his wife, Mia, thought dead for three years is actually alive and well. He has her location and is on his way to find her, to discover where she has been all that time.

 

Ethan pulls his car up outside a large decrepit mansion in the heart of the Louisiana bayou, and finds he is unable to get through the gates leading to the house itself. He heads around the perimeter where he encounters a bizarre object that seems to have been made using the limbs of cows. Not being put off he continues his search and discovers ruined cars, as well as a bag containing Mia’s driver’s licence. He enters a derelict house nearby and as he searches the place he discovers his wife in a cage in the basement, as the two try to escape she abruptly disappears when Ethan explores an adjoining room. Making his way out of the basement he is suddenly attacked by Mia who appears to have been possessed by something, and during a scuffle she ultimately severs his left hand with a chainsaw. Ethan confronts her with a gun he finds, and seems to kill her. As he struggles with what is happening a man suddenly appears and welcomes him to the family before knocking him unconscious.

 

Later Ethan wakes up to find his left hand has been stapled back on (and is inexplicably functional) and he is tied to a chair. He is sitting at a dinner table covered with rotten food being eaten by the Baker family with the exception of Grandma who just sits in a chair nearby. Marguerite Baker gets angry when he refuses to eat and storms out. Moments later Jack Baker tries to force-feed Ethan after cutting the hand off his son Lucas, but is interrupted by a knock at the door. Jack and Lucas leave the room and Ethan throws his chair to the floor breaking it and allowing Ethan to escape.

 

Trying to make sense of what is happening, Ethan struggles to get out of the house, but Jack returns and Ethan releases if he is going to escape then he needs to figure out what is happening. Unfortunately he is not only going to have to contend with bizarre monsters which prowl the Baker estate, but he will also have to deal with the insane Baker family as they try to prevent his escape and make him part of their “family”

 

There is naturally more to the game than I have described above but that is the basic gist, and as this is really my first Resident Evil game I have no idea if it is meant to fit into the canon of the previous instalments.

 

I have to say that I did kind-of spoil things for myself because I watched a Markiplier walkthrough of it when it first came out, and whilst the memories of exactly what happens had faded I still knew when certain things were going to happen. As a result I wasn’t exactly lost at any point, and honestly I really wish I hadn’t watched anything because this game was a real treat of survival horror.

 

The Baker family members are all creepy, insane and remorseless in their own right, Jack is more of a powerhouse that stalks you relentlessly. Marguerite controls vast legions of bugs and can mutate her body into a spider-like form that is disgusting and strong. Lucas has also created various Saw like traps design to torture his victims and prevent them from escaping the Baker estate. The big three, Jack, Marguerite and Lucas are massive highlights in the game, and whilst they lack the one-hit kill of the Alien from Isolation when Jack is hot on your tail you do scramble to escape him. The tight claustrophobic nature of the main house in which you face Jack, and the derelict lake house that Marguerite roams are designed so that you can never really relax as at any moment one of them could discover your hiding place.

 

None of the family members can be successfully defeated until their boss fights so whilst you can use weapons to disable Jack when he is following you, all you are doing is buying yourself a bit of time to evade him.

 

Your inventory is restrictive at first but you can make it larger at two points during the game when you find backpacks. As a result you need to be careful with what you're carrying. If you find something that you need to pick up and you disregard something from your inventory, Ethan doesn’t drop it, the item in question is just gone. In the save rooms (the only truly safe places) there are item boxes in which you can store anything that you don’t want to currently carry in your inventory. These boxes are linked so if you put something in one you’ll be able to get it out of another without any problem. Obviously having limited inventory slots goes hand in hand with survival horror and you have to make decisions between having empty slots so you can pick things up and also having enough ammo and weapons to defend yourself. But you need to have health items too as the Bakers aren’t the only enemies that you have to contend with.

 

If you are running low on supplies you can take psychostimulants which will cause items to show up on your screen so it is always worth clearing an area of enemies, then popping some pills so you can go back through the area collecting anything you may have missed.

 

The inventory looks like it could have 16 additional slots and there are two backpacks in the game that Ethan can grab so I was assuming that there would be a +game mode which would enable you to start with more slots, grab the two backpacks again, thus getting the maximum amount of slots. You can’t actually do that but I will talk about that in a bit more detail later. The thing that I find odd about the design of the inventory system is that a coin will take up the same amount of space as a handgun. You pick up antique coins which can be used to unlock items during the game but why exactly does a coin take up as much space as a handgun??

 

 

Seriously, each one of the items in the picture are items that you get in the game, and each one of them takes a single slot in your inventory. Why?? I have seen a couple of partial walkthroughs of Resident Evil 4 which had an attaché case as an inventory system, and in that a shotgun took up way more space than a grenade. Here a shotgun is 2 slots with everything smaller using one. Why wasn’t Resident Evil 4’s inventory system used here??

 

In addition to the Bakers you also have to deal with bizarre creatures that look a little like the enhanced necromorphs from Dead Space and are more like traditional zombies as the only way to stop them is by blowing off their heads. When the Bakers aren’t around you venture into parts of the house in which the Moulded wander, they have sharp teeth, claws and can overwhelm you very quickly. The problem is that they are more annoying bullet sponges than anything else. Like I said I had memories of watching Markiplier play the game and when I was playing it myself, I would be on edge when the game went quiet, as I’d be struggling to remember if Jack or Marguerite was going to suddenly appear and attack. But the moment the Moulded appear I would relax because I knew they were going to be the only enemies I’d have to deal with. They are also really stupid so I started just running past them wherever possible and slamming a door in their face as they cannot break down doors to come after you. Plus sometimes they will dissolve if they leave a certain room. Sadly they become more numerous as the game goes on and the more interesting Bakers give way to these shambling monsters that prove to be a pain in the arse as they can take your health down very rapidly.

 

As a character it seems that nothing really surprises or even phases Ethan, when Mia attacks and cuts his hand off he doesn’t seem any more concerned than if he’d stubbed his toe. When he is first approaching the Baker house and he sees signs of missing persons, he still goes in instead of calling the police and waiting for them to arrive. His back story is left unknown, but he is able to handle a firearm, and build improvised weapons (the flame thrower) so he might have received some military training but if he has it isn’t revealed.

 

Whilst the enemies are relatively stupid and Ethan has his moments too such as his inability to remove tape from objects. Early in the game Ethan discovers a box that has been tied up with tape which “cannot be removed by hand”?? So Ethan cannot pick off tape using his fingernails?? Apparently not because in addition to shadow locks and three animal keys, the Bakers have also decided the best way to prevent someone from accessing different parts of their home it to tape up the box so no one can open them and push the button inside?? So Ethan can’t pick tape off a box, instead using a knife to cut the tape and yet there are some parts which make sense. For example during a boss fight Ethan gets a chainsaw which is still functional at the end of the fight, however it breaks when he uses it to escape that room. So he casts aside the broken handle, it reminded me of a moment in The Evil Within when Sebastian gets a chainsaw after killing the Sadist, uses it to cut a chain and then throws it aside. But in that game the chainsaw still seemed to be functional so it made no sense as to why Sebastian would discard it. In Resident Evil VII it is broken so there is no point in continuing to carry it around so Ethan seems to have more brains than Sebastian.

 

Ethan carries with him a torch and at certain times in the game he switches it on, unfortunately it is down to him when he decides to turn it on. I lost track of the amount of times that I’d be in a dark room and Ethan wouldn’t switch on his torch. I resorted to using the burner a few times as the flame would illuminate the dark corners so I have no idea why being able to control the torch wasn’t down to the player.

 

I think possibly the biggest niggle I had with the game were moments when I’d be trying to escape from something or someone, attempt to activate a switch or hit a button, and a message which said “You can’t use that now” would appear on the screen. I developed the habit of simply running from the Moulded instead of wasting ammo on shooting them. It was during one of these moments when I raced past them into a lift and hit the button only to have that message pop up that really annoyed me. I was trying to activate a lift in order to escape so that is the Perfect time to use that button, because I’m trying to ESCAPE!! But I wasn’t able to activate the lift so was forced to turn around and waste ammo taking them down before I could move on.

 

In all honesty though, my complaints of the main game are relatively small when Ethan is trapped on the Baker estate, unfortunately the latter part moves away from the dilapidated buildings and claustrophobic rooms of the mansions to a derelict ship. This slows the pace of the game down to a crawl and functions to give the player the back story into what was going on with the Bakers.

 

The beginning of this section is also marked by a choice which will generate one of two endings.

 

Let me drop this…

 

 

What do you think of my new Spoiler warning sign??

 

I fancied a change from the running joke of the car spoiler…

 

Anyway, most of the game Ethan is looking for two items that can create a cure for the moulded infection so he can cure his wife Mia and one of the Bakers named Zoe. During the course of the game Zoe will ring you to give you advice on where to go and where to find things. This does carry a rather sinister overtone as she always knows where you are and will ring the nearest phone to you when you have completed objectives. She is also trapped on the Baker estate but has not succumbed to the infection as much as Jack, Lucas and Marguerite so desires the cure so she can escape. Two cures are made but Ethan is forced to use one of them to escape death, so has only one left and must choose between giving the cure to Mia or Zoe…

 

So ask yourself if you had the cure to a disease but could only give it to your wife or some stranger that you barely even know who would you give it to??

 

Naturally you’d give the cure to your wife, right??

 

If the choice was to give the cure to your mother or your father, or brother or sister, then that is a difficult choice but why Resident Evil VII thinks choosing between Mia and Zoe is a difficult choice is beyond me.

 

So you give the cure to Mia but Zoe behaves like Ethan is a massive asshole for giving his wife the cure. You’d think that the game would end as Ethan and Mia head away from the estate in a boat but as they travel through the bayou they come across a wrecked ship, their boat is destroyed and the game play switches to Mia as she searches the ship for Ethan who is taken by the black mould.

 

This is when the game slows right down, and it is also at this point the decision to choose Mia or Zoe is ultimately revealed to be meaningless. If you have chosen Zoe, she dies as the boat is overturned, and you play the next sequence as Mia anyway who has inexplicably ended up by the ship. The ending is different because once Ethan is saved you switch back to playing as him, and Mia either survives (if she was given the cure) or dies if you gave the cure to Zoe.

 

The game does leave many questions unanswered but perhaps the biggest is: Is Ethan infected??

 

He has his hand sliced off and when it is stapled back on he is able to use it as though it wasn’t ever severed in the first place. He can heal any injuries by splashing first aid med on his hand, and can even repair severed limbs by reattaching them without difficulty. The Bakers have formidable regenerative abilities and it seems Ethan has some of those abilities as well. The question of whether Ethan is infected is never answered but perhaps it will in a sequel to the game or in the DLC.

 

Once the game ends you do unlock the Albert-01 gun which is pretty powerful, and takes normal handgun ammo. I was expecting there to be a +game mode but sadly there isn’t, so if you restart you are playing from scratch again. The Albert-01 is in your inventory box when you get to the first save room but during my second play through I seemed to die more than the first time when I was being more cautious. The Albert-01 is a powerful weapon but it only holds 3 shots and unlike the shotgun it’s bullets don’t spread out so if you are aiming at the Moulded and they move then your bullets will sail harmlessly past them. I think it has given me a false sense of security as I go charging into fights rather than being more careful.

 

My only regret with regards to this game was spoiling it by watching Markiplier playing it first, which I really shouldn’t have done. The Not a Hero DLC was free with the game which I am currently working on but I have made a point of not watching anyone play it so it is all new to me, and I have also downloaded the Banned Footage DLCs too so I will review those in the near future.

 

As far as Resident Evil VII goes it is a truly great game and I am looking forward to seeing where the series will go in the future. The game gets a strong Thumbs Up because as soon as I finished playing I went straight back to playing it a second time so I could see the second ending. Yes the game suffers once you aren’t dealing with the Bakers anymore and loses steam once you leave the estate but it is on the whole great fun and from what I understand a much needed boost to the Resident Evil franchise.

 

 

8.5/10 – If the game had ended when you leave the Baker estate then I would have probably rated it higher as the ship section with Mia is a little dull because you are only dealing with the Moulded. I am eager to play the DLCs and any game that I dive straight back into after finishing is one that I always rate highly.

 

TAC Reviews...Resident Evil VII: Not a Hero DLC

Date Posted: 21/01/18

 

The first of the Resident Evil VII’s downloadable content was originally due for release in the Spring of 2017 but was actually delayed to December 2017. It features Resident Evil character Chris Redfield, but as the canon of Resident Evil VII is not exactly clear I was not sure if this version of Chris is the same one that has been in previous games

 

Resident Evil VII - Not a Hero Artwork

 

Set immediately after the end of Resident Evil VII, the Not a Hero DLC allows us to discover the fate of Lucas Baker, who fled after Ethan escaped the Happy Birthday death trap, and was not encountered again before the end of the game. After dropping the gun that Ethan used in the final battle of Resident Evil VII Chris has remained behind after Ethan was safely evacuated. It is up to him to venture into the mines under the Baker property to find Lucas and bring him in.

 

Now right off the bat I might as well say that there are going to be a few spoilers from the main game as this concerns the fate of one of the Baker family plus key plot points important from Resident Evil VII. I’m not going to drop my usual spoiler warning as this whole review is basically one long spoiler.

 

The game begins with Chris heading into the abandoned mines under the Baker estate that Lucas has apparently been using as his own private sanctuary. He enters the location where Ethan created the E-Series toxin after learning that three of his men are missing. He arrives to find one has a bomb attached to his neck and before he can disarm it, Lucas appears and attaches another device to Chris’ own arm. He detonates the explosive around the other guy’s neck, killing him, and warning Chris not to follow him before releasing an airborne toxin into the room and fleeing.

 

Chris pursues him and enters a door that was locked in the main game, so his path almost immediately takes him into a part of the mines that Ethan wasn’t able to visit, and here he struggles to rescue the other soldiers Lucas has captured before the explosives round their necks can be set off.

 

He must also contend with the Moulded, a new strain of Moulded that is immune to conventional weapons, and of course Lucas Baker himself…

 

Okay so the big difference between this and Resident Evil VII is that this is more of a shooter than a survival horror experience. Chris enters the mines with a handgun, shotgun, combat knife and grenades at his disposal. Ammo is plentiful so it is unlikely that you’ll ever get close to running out, and Chris also has got a hell of a right hook. Seriously, if you are confronted by a Moulded, something that could easily kill Ethan with a couple of attacks, all Chris has to do is shoot it once with the handgun to stagger it, at which point he will be prompted to punch. If he does he will literally punch the creature’s head off which is a massive ammo saving option. Plus his shotgun also packs a wallop and can tear through enemies with relative ease. The only enemies you really have to worry about are these weird white-mould variations that are immune to conventional weapons, those you have to run from and evade when you first encounter them, but relatively quickly you get some handgun ammunition that can kill them in one shot. That shot doesn’t need to be in the head, as long as you hit them, they will die.

 

I might as well be honest and admit that I did like playing this DLC, however the more I have thought about it the more I realise the story has gone off on one and the character of Lucas hasn’t really remained true to Resident Evil VII.

 

I’ll talk about the story first, now in (I’m sick of writing “the main game” so from now on I’ll just write RE7) RE7 the story, as I understood it, was that Mia Winters was the caretaker for a genetically modified human turned bio-weapon weapon named Eveline. The ship they were transporting her on was wreaked in the Louisiana bayou, Jack Baker and his son Lucas investigated the wreckage where they discovered Mia and Eveline, both of them were infected by Eveline’s mould which drove them insane, and lead to them kidnapping people in order to give Eveline the “family” she craved. The Bakers were as much victims as anyone else as they were being controlled by Eveline and were mutated against their will. As their estate was in a Louisiana backwater the family went unnoticed by the surrounding world for two years until Mia managed to get a message to Ethan, which brought him to the estate, and led to the deaths of the Bakers and Eveline.

 

In a dream-like sequence that Ethan has whilst he is imprisoned in the mould growth Jack Baker appears and tells Ethan everything that Eveline did. How she infected them and used them to hurt people. He begs Ethan to stop her and free his family from her control. However, Ethan also discovers evidence to suggest that Lucas is not as innocent as his father believes as he once imprisoned a childhood bully in the attic above his room and left him there to starve to death (which the child did). The E-Series mould that had infected Lucas had given him incredible powers of regeneration but his mind seems to be unaffected. He was able to act on his psychotic tendencies and his desire to invent things by building elaborate traps designed to kill someone even if they did manage to figure them out.

 

In Not a Hero we learn that another company called The Connection was employing Lucas as their Head Researcher…

 

 

Yep, we’re back on that old chestnut.

 

Apparently everything that was happening to the Baker family could have been stopped at anytime by a company that had the time, and money to build a complete research lab in the mines beneath their home. So the idea that Eveline was just a biological weapon that was behaving unchecked is blown out of the water and Lucas Baker was actually working for them after they cured him of Eveline’s mind control.

 

That is a pretty big middle finger to RE7 as it is basically saying that everything that game established about what was happening was meaningless. Remember when I said that Zoe always seeming to know where Ethan was in the house so she could call him on the nearest phone seemed a tad sinister?? Well presumably there were cameras set up all around the Baker home so The Connection could monitor what was going on. Hell, if Zoe was able to always know where Ethan was, was she also working with them??

 

It is annoying because it seemed that Resident Evil had finally moved away from the corporate bullshit, that even a non-fan like myself knows, was in the background of the previous games. Some faceless corporation that would feed countless numbers of their own employees to various monstrosities in the hopes of creating the ultimate bio-weapon. So the blood of everyone who was kidnapped, mutilated, and mutated by the Bakers is on the hands of a corporation who would happily throw new born babies onto a fire if it served their purposes

 

That is such a lame plot line and strikes me as a hand-wave explanation for what happened to the Baker family.

 

Plus are we just going to assume that Lucas didn’t give the cure to his family because he didn’t care about them?? Otherwise why would he allow his own flesh and blood to commit terrible acts at the whim of Eveline?? Why did he stick around the Baker estate in the first place if he was immune to Eveline’s control and could easily escape whenever he chose??

 

The person Chris communicates with on his radio also makes reference to the Pharmaceutical Company called Umbrella (the company behind all the virus outbreaks in the previous games), which was reformed as a PMC in 2007 with the mandate to clear up virus outbreaks. Chris works for them now and they kept the name as a way of acknowledging what happened in the past and trying to put it right in the future. So this isn’t a reboot as it first seemed, as takes place in the same universe as the original games??

 

Honestly I don’t know, apparently the continuity of the games went a bit loopy, thing is RE7 had a tighter focussed story which this DLC has in one fell swoop completely dumped on.

 

The DLC is more shooter focussed but why couldn’t Lucas have set up a series of traps in the mines designed to kill anyone trying to come after him, wouldn’t that suit the character we saw in RE7?? Having to solve different puzzles that became increasingly more dangerous may not have been the most faced paced DLC in the world but it might have been more fun if done right.

 

The two surviving soldiers are basically just there to die, one is trapped in a locked cell and waits until Chris has found the key and entered said cell to warn him that it is a trap. Yeah, you could have said that before we enter the cage as the two do exchange words before Chris goes off to find the key. That guy gets his head buzz sawed off for his trouble with no way to save him. The second guy is in a room full of bombs with a maze of infra-red beams Chris must navigate his way around, thing is if you go to your companion as soon as you reach him, Lucas detonates all the bombs killing you both. Therefore you must disarm the traps first, at which point Lucas just kills your comrade. The thing is how were we supposed to know we needed to disarm the traps first. In RE7 the found footage tapes gave you clues about upcoming puzzles and solutions, there is no such thing here so you have no way to know if a trap will suddenly explode in your face or not.

 

The game play itself is good fun and being able to punch a Moulded in the face is quite therapeutic after all the problems Ethan had with them, plus it must be noted that this DLC was free. Lucas Baker not being killed by Ethan in RE7 could have paved the way for paid DLC but as soon as the game was released, this DLC was advertised as free to play. Yes it was delayed from Spring 2017 to Dec 2017 but that worked for me as I only got round to playing the game in Jan 2018 so finished Ethan’s adventure then headed straight into this. I have also got the Banned Footage DLCs so will work my way through those in due time.

 

I started this review intending to give Not a Hero a Thumbs Up, unfortunately as I have been writing down my opinions I have realised that it has basically stripped away everything that made RE7 so much fun. The inability to easily defend yourself, the scarce supplies, the creepy environments and the unique and terrifying Bakers…None of those things are in this DLC, the mine is well lit, the tunnels spacious, and with the exception of having to dodge around a couple of white-mould variants you are never really in much danger. Here you fight the Moulded, a variant that can’t die (until it can) and then the mutated form of Lucas himself.

 

I did have fun, but it wasn’t the same kind of fun that comes from being stalked around a decrepit mansion by deranged killers that you cannot escape. I think I’ll have to give Not a Hero a Thumbs Down, yes I enjoyed it, but it could have been much better and carried on the story RE7 instead of shitting all over it. It seems that Capcom haven’t completely gotten away from the action style of the previous instalments, hopefully the Banned Footage will be more like the main game than this DLC.

 

 

6/10 – This isn’t a bad piece of DLC unfortunately it just doesn’t have the same feel as Resident Evil VII. I enjoyed being hunted by the Bakers and feeling my hearts pound when they came after me, shooting the annoying Moulded is fun but Not a Hero seems more like a previous Resident Evil title rather than the excellent Resident Evil VII

 

TAC Reviews...Resident Evil VII: Banned Footage Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

Date Posted: 29/01/18

 

When Resident Evil VII came out in early 2017 the Not a Hero DLC was advertised as coming in Spring, but as I have mentioned it actually didn’t come out until December. In between the game and that DLC there were other downloadable contents that came out. Notably the Banned Footage Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. In addition to those was also Ethan Must Die mode and Jack’s 55th Birthday which took things in a rather bizarre direction to say the least.

 

 

I am getting rather Resident Evil’d out at the moment. I played the main game, dived straight back in with the Albert 01 by my side in order to see the second ending. I have defeated Marguerite I just need to do the Lucas section, the ship and then I’ll be done but as the ship section is a bit tedious I’m not overly keen to do it. Anyway, I did Not a Hero and now I want to take a look at the Banned Footage DLCs too.

 

There is one more DLC called End of Zoe which as of yet I haven’t played and deals with what happened to Zoe as Ethan giving Mia the cure and the pair of them surviving is the canon ending to the game.

 

There are four DLCs in the Banned Footage and three of which feature Clancy Jarvis (the cameraman for the Sewer Gators show that we saw in the first tape found in the guest house) and the final one we play as Zoe.

 

I played them in the wrong order but I don’t think that matters too much

 

The first I played was Daughters in which we see how the horror for the Baker family started, Zoe is watching the news regarding the flooding in the surrounding area when her father Jack brings an unconscious child into the house that he found by the ship wreck in the bayou. Marguerite tells Jack to put her to bed in Lucas’ old room until they can find her some help when the storm eases up and asks Zoe to fetch the girl some clean and dry clothes. Zoe complies and as she takes the clothing to the child, she tells Zoe that [they] “are mine now”. The lights go out as lightening strikes the house killing the power and Zoe must try to determine what is suddenly happening to her mother and father.

 

Now whilst Not a Hero wasn’t survival horror this DLC most definitely is.

 

Zoe has no weapons and as she struggles to understand what is happening her breathing is shallow and erratic, so she is clearly terrified of what is going on. This makes you, as the player more nervous, because you feel more afraid due to Zoe’s reaction to what is happening. She witnesses her family turning on her and each other, she whispers to herself as she watches her mother and father fighting the control Eveline is forcing on them. In the main game Ethan was always steady and the situation did not seem to bother him. Just the sound of terrified breathing and screams really help to heighten the horror that is gripping Zoe and her family.

 

Lucas is dragged screaming to see his new “sister” Eveline but strangely Zoe doesn’t make any effort to try and save him, she seems only concerned with saving herself. But then Lucas is established to be an asshole even here plus a thorn in his father’s side with his attitude and demeanour.

 

The Bakers start off normal, with Jack joking about opening a Bed and Breakfast, then they are taken over by Eveline’s control but they do fight it. In the main game it is implied that the infection happened a little slower but the parents are not instantly taken over and try to protect Zoe from themselves and Eveline’s sudden control.

 

Daughters is relatively short and has two endings so it does encourage you to play it more than once through.

 

Zoe is seeking the cure in the main game so she obviously gets infected but like Lucas doesn’t seem to be completely under Eveline’s control

 

The other three concern the unluckiest bastard in the known world…Clancy Jarvis.

 

According to the Resident Evil Wiki chronologically Nightmare happens first, then 21 and finally Bedroom. However it makes more sense to me to have Nightmare as a non-canon add on like Jack’s Birthday with Bedroom happening first then 21 taking place just before the events of the Happy Birthday tape.

 

In Bedroom Clancy wakes up tied to a bed in the Baker’s master bedroom, Marguerite comes in and gives him a meal (of rotten food like they tried to serve to Ethan) and after she leaves you are given one instruction: Escape.

 

To do this you need to explore the room and solve a number of puzzles. Some of which are relatively straight forward whilst others are a lot trickier. I actually restarted because I thought I must have done something wrong but it turns out that I wasn’t seeing something quite obvious.

 

Just to give you a hint that hopefully won’t spoil anything (and was a tip the game itself gave me when I restarted) – the key to one puzzle is in the poem

 

What makes the game more nerve wracking is that if you make too much noise Marguerite will come back to check on you and if she spots anything out of place then there is hell to pay…

 

Like I said as far as I am concerned when he was knocked out by Jack Baker, Clancy was taken to the bedroom to be force-fed the food that would lead to his own infection by Eveline’s mould. However he escaped the room and ended up in the basement where he was then recaptured by Lucas which lead to the events of 21.

 

In this DLC Clancy wakes up to discover himself sitting opposite a man with a bag on his head. Lucas informs him (and the other prisoner named Hoffman) that they are going to play a game of Blackjack. Essentially (if you don’t know) cards are dealt and the object of the game is to get 21. If you go over that then you lose and the closest to 21 wins. The loser of the three round game dies and to give Clancy and Hoffman some incentive if they lose a round they also lose some fingers too.

 

Survive that round and Lucas naturally doesn’t let you go, instead he changes the game so that in Round Two, Clancy and Hoffman get electric shocks if they lose a round, with the charge building each time until it becomes fatal.

 

Naturally you’d think that would be the end of the game but sadly it isn’t. After surviving Round One and Two, Lucas reanimates Hoffman using pulleys so the game can continue into the final round. This time if Clancy loses he gets a buzz saw to the face.

 

This DLC is pretty harrowing as you naturally hear both Clancy and Hoffman screaming in agony as their fingers are sliced off or they are given increasingly high shocks of electricity. I think the best point in its favour though is it completely fits in with Lucas’ character (unlike his story in Not a Hero). He built the game to be as sadistic as possible and there were times that I was trying to decide if the game was rigged or not, but then surely it is supposed to be rigged so Clancy also dies. Lucas is hardly likely to be playing fair. Once you survive all three rounds Lucas talks about playing another game with just the two of you which in my mind leads to the Happy Birthday tape Ethan finds in the main game.

 

Nightmare is a mode which also stars Clancy Jarvis but the reason I tend to think of it as a non-canon story is because the object it to survive until dawn. Apparently Jack dumped Clancy in the basement and now he must fight the Moulded roaming down there. The game is split into five hours in which Clancy awakens in the basement and must use scrap metal to craft weapons, health packs, and various other things to help him get through the night. The Moulded essentially keep respawning and Clancy must fight them off. He can use scrap to activate bombs and gun turrets around the whole basement area. All of the doors have been removed so there is no hope of simply running into a room and slamming the door in the face of the Moulded who are too stupid to knock it down. A couple of doors need corrosive liquid to open them but once they are open the doors cannot be closed again. The reason I think of this as non-canon is because I don’t see how handfuls of scrap metal can be instantly turned into a shotgun, or bullets or health potion. Plus if it is canon did the Bakers refit all the doors at some point before Ethan arrived, and if they did then why?? If they know the Moulded can’t get through them then why have any at all?? Presumably the Moulded don’t attack the Bakers so it wouldn’t matter if they roam the house anyway. At time of writing I had survived till 3am before I was killed, my score unlocked new weapons but if you start again you start again…as in at the beginning of the night and have to begin again. I may try to play through it at some point but it is basically a horde mode and running around shooting enemies is a tad boring and not what I want to play Resident Evil VII for.

 

Perhaps if Nightmare had been a sneaky horror in which Clancy must stealth around enemies hunting him then it would have been much better and fitted into the nerve jangling feel of Daughters, 21 and Bedroom.

 

Finally in Jack’s 55th Birthday you have to run around the house collecting food to feed the hungry Jack…and that is it. The Moulded are wandering around (all wearing party hats for some reason) and killing them will unlock doors and give you more time. Oh yes, it is timed so you need to fill Jack’s hunger bar within a set time limit. Honestly it is as ridiculous as it sounds and so I played one round. I might do others but haven’t got plans to rush back to it.

 

The final one is Ethan Must Die which I have not even attempted because I believe it is a mode in which Ethan gathers various tools to help him survive. But from what I understand it is one of those one-hit and your dead kind-of deals which I would never be able to do so I don’t even attempt it.

 

All in all the Banned Footage DLCs are generally pretty good with Daughters being a particular terrifying highlight. Both Bedroom and 21 are also good fun with both Marguerite and Lucas behaving in the gloriously horrifying way they did in the main game. Jack’s Birthday is just weird, but fun weird, and Nightmare is doable if you have the time and the patience to work through it. I am happy to give all of the DLC I have talked about a Thumbs Up, and will keep my eye on End of Zoe as I am curious to see what happens to her, but I’ll wait until the price of it drops before I check it out.

 

 

8/10 – Overall the DLC is very well done and a treat to return to the terrifying Baker Estate in the shoes of Zoe and Clancy Jarvis. I got both sets of DLC at less than half price so whilst they are too short to justify their full price they are definitely worth checking out if you can get them at a discount. 

 

TAC Reviews...Resident Evil VII - End of Zoe DLC

Date Posted: 08/02/19

 

The final piece of DLC for Resident Evil VII follows what happened to the Baker's daughter Zoe after Ethan used the cure on Mia, and left the Baker Estate behind after promising to send help back for her. The game introduces a new protagonist, namely Joe Baker, Jack's estranged brother and a story set several weeks after the events of the Not a Hero DLC

 

Resident Evil VII: End of Zoe DLC

 

The canon ending of RE7 sees Ethan giving the cure to his wife and the two of them heading off into the bayou to escape the Baker Estate leaving Zoe behind. As punishment for her escape attempts and helping Ethan kill her "family" Eveline calcifies her. Her body is later found by two Blue Umbrella soldiers and since Eveline died, the calcification process has not killed Zoe, but she does need the cure to survive.

 

She is discovered by her uncle Joe Baker, who knocks out the two soldiers standing over her, and takes both Zoe and a soldier back to his cabin deep in the swamps. The soldier tells him that they are there to help and they were trying to cure her when Joe jumped them. He tells Joe where to find the cure and leaving Zoe and the tied-up soldier in his cabin, Joe heads off to find the cure.

 

Along the way he encounters several moulded but over the last few years he has become accustomed to dealing with these creatures, and simply beats them to death with his bare hands. He finds a sample of the cure and returns to his cabin only to find it ablaze. He gives Zoe the cure but it doesn't work and the soldier tells him they need a full dose which is at an Umbrella base nearby. The soldier tells Joe that if he unties him then they can go and get the cure together. But seconds later the soldier is dragged screaming from the cabin and killed by a humanoid "Swamp Man". Joe flees with Zoe to find the cure, but along the way he must battle more Moulded, mutated alligators and the Swamp Man who seems determined to take Zoe from him...

 

Okay, so Joe Baker has been living as a hermit in the Louisiana bayou and over the last three years (when Eveline was in control of the Baker family) he has gotten used to dealing with the shambling Moulded that roam the swamps. During the course of the DLC he keeps talking about how important family is and he is determined to save Zoe. But when the Moulded started showing up, why did he not go to the Baker Estate to check his family were okay?? During the course of the game you do wind up back at the Baker Estate so it isn't that far from where Joe lives. Therefore it seems strange that he hasn't gone back to see if they are alright especially considering how family focused he is. If he'd only just returned home from being away, fine, if he'd been encased in Mould like Ethan, fair enough, hell if he'd been infected himself and been cured by Blue Umbrella, then set out to save what remained of his family, then more power to him. I just find it bizarre that he would sit around doing nothing for years before deciding to actually deal with the situation, especially considering how inhumanly strong he is. 

 

Since the release of RE7 I have played all of the DLC and whilst Not a Hero was fun it did not continue the survival horror feel of the original game. Daughters, 21 and Bedroom returned to the horrifying feel of the main game, but End of Zoe sadly follows in the footsteps of the former DLC rather than the latter ones.  

 

Unlike Chris Redfield in Not a Hero, Joe doesn't have any weapons apart from two guns; one attached to his right shoulder and one to his left, yes his arms, and fists. Now if you thought that Chris had a hell of a punch in Not a Hero, Joe makes Chris' strikes look like a gentle caress. Left and right triggers control Joe's right and left arms, he is able to do boxing combos taking jabs with one hand and doing hooks with the other. He can take down a single Moulded without really even breaking step. I'm not honestly sure how he can be so strong considering he must be in his late 50s or early 60s at least. Still, it makes the Moulded into pathetic opponents and makes Ethan seems all the more useless for being unable to beat them in RE7. Like Ethan and Chris, Joe can also defend to reduce damage taken from enemies but you really only need to do this when you are being attacked by more than one creature at a time. More often than not the Moulded shamble after you in single file, allowing you to take them down one at a time, so they are more annoying than anything else. However, sometimes more than one will spawn. If they are in front of you then it is not too difficult to strike at them causing them to stagger but if one has spawned behind you then it will attack when your back is turned, as a result you can get overwhelmed whilst trying to figure out how you are getting hurt when all your attackers are apparently in front of you. Joe has a hell of a punch and can easily hold his own against several standard Moulded, unfortunately, the little scuttly buggers that run around on all fours are too fast for you to hit, and a single one can easily kill Joe before he can beat it to a pulp. 

 

From what I understood in RE7 the Moulded were people that the Bakers kidnapped and were mutated by Eveline's mould into the twisted creatures they have now become. The police officer Jack killed in RE7 was in the process of being turned into a Moulded during the events of the game. What I don't understand is how there can be so many Moulded if each one of them was a person once. In Dead Space and it's sequels the Necromorphs were also mutated humans but variations could be made using different parts of bodies, and the Ishimura had a crew of "over a thousand people on board" according to Kendra so there were plenty of crew members to be turned into monsters. Dead Space 2 took place on a populated space station, and Dead Space 3 on a planet so there were hundreds of people that could be turned. In RE7 there was information found which suggested that maybe a couple of dozen people had been kidnapped, and despite the game establishing that not all of them were successfully turned, if you assume that a few more people were kidnapped than we know about then you shouldn't have encountered more than say forty Moulded in the whole game. However, we've now met them in RE7, in the Nightmare DLC (which I don't consider canon but the game does), Not a Hero, and now End of Zoe. Hundreds of people must have been turned and how could all of those disappearances gone unnoticed?? If there had been some explanation that perhaps a single host provided enough genetic material to make three creatures then okay, or that the Moulded are somehow capable of duplicating themselves then again, fine. Unfortunately there is no explanation. So, somehow, hundreds of people were kidnapped by the Bakers, turned into Moulded and were then left to wander the swamps of the Louisiana bayou without anyone in authority or the surrounding area noticing or more importantly doing anything about it

 

Late in the game Joe gets hold of a powered hand-Gauntlet which increases his strength yet further allowing him to punch through metal bars...

 

 

This was obviously the point that End of Zoe shed itself of any vague pretence of realism, then completely wandered off the path and ended up in loony town. Yes, Joe gets a piece of Umbrella technology that allows him to charge up an attack which will one hit every enemy in the game, with the exception of the final boss.

 

The game also has some weird physics when it comes to platforms, as you make your way through the swamps in your search for the cure, numerous derelict buildings are discovered in various stages of ruin. Mutated alligators (or simply gators as Joe calls them) roam the water ways and I'll talk about them in a minute. There are several points in the game when you must traverse platforms that are narrow and if you aren't being careful you'll fall off into the water below. But, for some bizarre reason whilst it is possibly for Joe to fall, the Moulded can't. If you land a right punch that has enough force to knock one clean off its feet, it will bounce off an invisible wall and remain on the platform. So you can't simply punch one into the water and let the gators finish the job for you, and yet if you fall in then the gators will happily chow down on your flesh. 

 

The previous sentence leads me nicely to the gators which are one hit kill enemies; they too have been mutated by Eveline's Mould and are bloodthirsty killing machines. Joe is forced to enter the water with them on numerous occasions and if they get too close then they basically bite him in half. Fortunately the game does give you means to kill them. Joe is able to craft items to help him defend himself, most of which have the usual video game logic:

 

Random Scrap Metal + Tree Branch = Metal-tipped spear

 

Chem fluid + Branch = explosive-tipped spear.

 

Crafting regular spears becomes essential for dealing with the numerous gators that wind up blocking your path. It is generally not possible to sneak around them, nor can you out pace them in the water, if you try (which I did) you die. A single spear can kill a gator in one hit regardless of where it strikes its body, but the spears have the same game logic as some of the different bolts from The Evil Within. If you throw a spear and miss, it is retrievable. If you land a hit, the spear simply fades into nothingness when the enemy dies. I know I bang on about context in situations like this but that is because it is a constant source of irritation to me. 

 

Why do my spears disappear End of Zoe?? 

 

Why???

 

If the game established that they were broken in the impact with a gator or moulded then fair enough, it is a throw away explanation because Joe can tear through the flesh of a Moulded with just his fists but a metal tipped spear is broken by that same flesh, still at least it is some explanation. I got a bit stuck at one point because I'd used my spears in a boss fight and was then confronted by an area which was crawling with gators that I needed to cross but died over and over because I had four gators to deal with and only one spear. I finally did it, yet it was pretty frustrating, and I just kept thinking why can't I have my spears back after using them?? It was after several attempts and getting killed each time that the game asked me if I wanted to lower the difficulty level. That just annoyed me even more because I could feel the game looking over my shoulder saying, "it doesn't matter that you're useless, just drop the difficulty down and you'll be able to carry on". It just made me more determined to get through the area without changing the difficulty which I finally did. 

 

This being a Resident Evil game there are things to collect as you explore the levels and in Joe's case he can pick up boxer effigies of the yellow and red variety. The yellow increase his hit damage by 1% the red by 5%...er...how exactly does that work...?? Video game logic...obviously, I suppose it was the same for Ethan who could pick up certain coins to help him defend against enemies. Anyway, the more of these effigies you collect the stronger Joe becomes and the easier it is for him to take on the Moulded.

 

The crafting mechanic mentioned above also works to create first aid medicine, which can be crafted using various bugs combined with chem fluid. Like Ethan he simply needs to splash this fluid on his left hand to completely restore his health. The bugs encountered are grubs, crawfish, and centipedes which Joe can happily scoff down to raw to restore his health. If he'd have encountered Marguerite after her infection he'd have probably looked at her as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Clancy Jarvis could be killed when she forced a centipede down his throat in the Bedroom DLC, maybe he should have simply bitten into it when it was going in and he wouldn't have died? 

 

Joe can also do "stealth" kills but I have put the word stealth in quotation marks because these are probably the loudest silent kills I've ever heard. If he is able to sneak up behind an enemy he will either rip their head off, or loudly stomp on their head or body, and if there are any other creatures in the vicinity they inexplicably don't hear anything. It honestly made me chuckle a couple of times at how stupid these creatures were and how they could be taken down in the loudest stealth kill animation I've ever heard without alerting another one lurking nearby.

 

Naturally you face the Swamp Man on several occasions and are only able to beat him back, even ripping his head off doesn't actually kill him. Joe has a total of three fights with him, the second and third are actual boss fights. The boss fights are basically just the same thing twice. You are thrown into an area and personally I ran in circles around the Swamp Man as he swung his punches or tried to land his attacks, ran in and punched him when I could and retreated to resume running when he tried to attack. I did try facing him directly, however, this just ended up in Joe almost getting beaten to death so I retreated and adopted the tactic above. In the second fight at the finale of the game, he is able to throw a whip-tentacle-like thing at you (similar to Mercer's whipfist in Prototype) which is tricky to dodge. However, having said that as you have the Gauntlet at the time I simply ran in circles waiting for it to charge, ran in, hit him and then started running around him again. It was using this tactic that I was able to beat him both times. The only boss-type enemy that I had any real issue with was one of those large puker Moulded simply because I struggled to get close enough to it before it vomited on me again causing Joe to stagger.

 

One final thing that I want to mention is that the majority of the time gates have been nailed shut using wood. Joe has to punch these to progress to the next area (and never once gets a splinter). Now in the same irritating way that the main game sometimes wouldn't let you press a button until enemies are defeated, during the fight with the puker, two regular moulded also attack. I got killed a couple of times as I was trying to deal with them when the puker either killed me itself or staggered me whilst the regular moulded finished me off. I decided to just run to the barred gate, smash the wood apart and sprint for it. Sadly on that one occasion the wood was indestructible and a hint popped up telling me that I needed to deal with the enemies first. I hate moments in games like this when a mechanic that has been used the entire game suddenly doesn't work because the game is forcing you to play something its way. Why have these wooden blocks in the first place, why can't the enemies encountered be mutated moulded versions of the Blue Umbrella soldiers that need to be killed because they have the keys to these gates?? This would explain how there can be more Moulded than the people originally turned in RE7. Again in game this would make sense. However, there is no explanation given, it is the game folding its arms and telling you that it wants you to kill these annoying enemies and you're not proceeding until you have. Plus when I got killed, it once again asked me if I wanted to lower the difficult because clearly the current difficulty setting was too much for me

 

Once you finish your first play through you are able to start again and the Gauntlet will be in a box outside Joe's cabin (with a shotgun for some reason) so you can happily replay it again with that from the get-go if you want. The trouble with the game was that it was just...boring...run up to an enemy, left jab, left jab, right punch, punch, punch and...rinse, lather, repeat...this is what you did with every land enemy. Gators could only be killed with Spears, and the final boss involved running in circles around him landing hits where you could until you punched him to death. Which apparently is not survivable despite the Swamp Man being able to shrug off decapitation and re-growing his own head in a matter of minutes or even seconds. 

 

This DLC follows the Not a Hero way of doing things and I honestly did not like it. Whilst it was fun to play initially, I started to get bored with the samey game play, with punching one enemy to death after another, and all the time I was trying to figure out why Joe hadn't gone to check on his family the moment the Moulded showed up instead of waiting three years before doing anything. As it was the game just left me with more questions than answers, and once you start getting bored then there is not much that a game can pull out of its hat to reawaken your interest. This DLC could have been really good, the Banned Footage Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 proved that but by choosing to follow the feel of Not a Hero, End of Zoe has pushed my Thumb Down.

 

 

4/10 - Game play is fun for a while; sadly beating the Moulded into pulp quickly starts to get dull and repetitive. Zoe survives the events of RE7 is basically all you need to know. If this is going to be important for later editions of the franchise who knows. If you loved the Not a Hero DLC then play this one, but if you preferred the feel of RE7 and the Banned Footage DCLs, then give this one a miss.

 

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