Resident Evil 7: End of Zoe DLC (PS4) REVIEW

End of Zoe

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platform(s): PS4, XB1, PC

Review copy purchased

There have been plenty of pieces of DLC for Resident Evil 7 since it launched back in January, with an emphasis on “pieces”. Short on playtime and, frankly, value for money, the season pass has flattered to deceive. It’s lucky, then, that its final offering, End of Zoe, is the most enthralling piece of DLC in the Baker family puzzle by far.

You play as Joe, brother to the tragic Jack and uncle to Zoe: the down on her luck aide to Ethan throughout the events of the main game. To serve the obvious canon, Ethan chose Mia and not Zoe for the serum in the DLC, meaning Zoe has almost fully succumbed to the E-type virus. She has “crystallised” before Joe finds her, who knocks out two Umbrella guards to kickstart the hunt for a cure.

Resident Evil 7 End of Zoe

Before long, a hideous mess of limbs and critters makes himself known, starting a ludicrous but utterly delightful rivalry with Joe. Swamp Man and Joe will face off in bouts of fisticuffs several times across End of Zoe, the former obsessed with capturing Zoe and effectively making life hard for Joe. It’s, in a weird way, like a horror version of Super Mario: the villain always snatching away the princess just as it looks like our hero has caught up.

The first, and only thing, you need to know about Joe is that he is metal as fuck. Imagine if the boulder-punching Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 6 and Joel from The Last of Us had a cousin and you wouldn’t be far off. Instead of opting for firearms, the grizzled ex-boxer purely uses his fists to deal with the Molded – you couldn’t ask for a bigger departure from the relatively feeble Ethan. Joe is a man’s man, and he will kill any man or monster if it means he can keep his niece safe.

Resident Evil 7 End of Zoe

While it may be a bit overkill to some that combat is all punch-based, it works in End of Zoe’s favour, ramping up the stakes and tension. After dealing with so many of the Molded in Resident Evil 7 and its expansions, so much of the fear factor had dissipated for me, meaning that they were more like annoyances than genuine threats. In this DLC, however, they can be deadly if you mistime a punch or come up against a few of them. Gruesome stealth kills are alternatives, allowing Joe to stomp on and snap the necks of creatures without having to introduce the monsters to Queensberry rules, but it’s almost hard to resist not having a boxing match. It really shouldn’t work as well as it does and adds yet more ridiculousness on top of what is already a damned ridiculous franchise, but spamming L2 and R2 while weaving around monsters is a simple joy that I couldn’t get enough of.

Of course, Joe can’t just go in all fists blazing. Despite being a man mountain and someone who probably eats whales for breakfast, he is still human. End of Zoe throws up plenty of brick walls and may well be the hardest challenge across all of Resident Evil 7, so playing tactically and frugally is key. Just like the base game, resource management is vital, especially as Joe can craft throwing spears and other assets from random stuff lying around the swamps. Give him a stick and some mechanical parts and Joe can dispatch of gators, like the slightly maniacal Steve Irwin that he is.

Compared to the likes of Banned Footage, there’s a surprising amount of depth to End of Zoe. With an hour and a half’s worth of playtime (not including additional runs to hoover up the trophies and complete the extreme challenges), it’s substantially bigger than the other Zoe-centric DLC, the eminently disappointing Sisters. It’s also a risk to fundamentally change up the loop this late in the game’s life, especially when so many may have wandered off from Resident Evil 7 to other games, so Capcom should be commended for just letting loose and having fun.

Resident Evil 7 was a brave experiment from Capcom, to effectively leave behind its bloated past and try to start afresh. While it may not have been as big a commercial a success as they might have liked, End of Zoe further shows that sometimes taking risks is worth it.

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End of Zoe
It may not be absolutely essential to your enjoyment of Resident Evil 7 as a whole, but End of Zoe offers a barmy and lovably off-beat slice of survival horror to bookend one of the best horror games of this generation.