When Resident Evil 7’s first-person perspective was shown off during the game’s reveal, I wasn’t a fan. My fear was that the classic Resident Evil experience focused on exploration, resource management, and handling enemies with precision would be thrown out of the window in favor of a linear experience. Thankfully, Resident Evil 7 hasn’t pulled a single punch during the time I’ve spent with it so far, and that’s largely due to the perspective change I was so worried about.
The latest chapter of the Resident Evil series truly feels like a fresh take on the original experience. The first-person perspective removes a large amount of situational awareness from the player. Instead of being able to see in a rotating 180-degree circle around your character, Resident Evil 7 gives you a roughly 80-degree field of view (provided you don’t change it in the settings) to work with. This change introduces a much more time-consuming loop for exploration where you are required to carefully analyze and evaluate every aspect of the environment if you dont want to miss anything that can help you escape the house.
As you sweep through the environment for equipment and clues, Resident Evil 7’s new perspective makes sure you always feel exposed. Since you can’t focus your attention anywhere behind you while opening desk drawers, crawling through tunnels, or shooting an enemy in front of you, you’ll have a few exposed sides where enemies can approach without your knowledge. Now, you can’t be aware of every enemy actively stalking you unless they barge out to attack, which means you consistently feel like something is breathing down your neck no matter how carefully you move around.
What I love about Resident Evil 7 is that the game actively took advantage of this feeling in every encounter I endured and every location I explored. Right when I least expected it, the game would throw an enemy at me, which encouraged me to waste valuable ammunition and medicine before a member of the even more dangerous Baker family made themselves known. While exploring, I was always looking around for something trying to hunt me down or an environmental trap I could use instead of bullets.
Speaking of bullets, both guns and melee weapons have made a successful transition into Resident Evil 7’s new perspective too. While they serve the same purpose as you’d expect, weapons are much more difficult to aim and keep loaded. Because the player character isn’t a member of a special task force, he takes a much longer time to recover from a weapon swing or a gun reload. Players must plan their melee strikes and reloads so that they don’t happen when an enemy is about to kill them, all of which serves to keep tension high regardless of how much ammunition you have.
In general, Resident Evil 7’s first-person perspective succeeds at pulling new folks into the franchise while offering a fresh new ahem perspective for returning fans to enjoy. At its very core, the game is still a representation of the same terror, horror, and tense combat that made the best Resident Evil games such memorable experiences. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.