Hello there. You’ve joined us for the latest instalment in Ash’s ongoing Pile of Shame series, which he says is all about him playing his forgotten video games, but we reckon it’s just a front for him to subject his nuclear level bad takes onto an unsuspecting population. He’s such a scoundrel, that fella.
It seems like such a long time ago now, but when I first wrote about Resident Evil 7, I talked about how I’ve avoided playing it for so long because I’m such a cowardly manbaby. After finishing the entire game, along with the Not A Hero expansion, one thing remains a constant: I’m still a cowardly manbaby.
I made it about as far as the guest house before I said “bollocks to this, I need a walkthrough”. Five minutes was all it took for me to put my controller down, decide that the tension was too much and actively seek out some form of digital hand holding. It’s pathetic, isn’t it? Don’t actually answer that, though. I can call myself pathetic, but you can fuck off.
It’s no secret that Resident Evil 7 is a masterpiece when it comes to the creation of its atmosphere, so much so that I needed some cobbled together guide in order to actually make some progress. The fear of that mysterious but unseen entity that you know for certain is lurking around every corner felt like a stranglehold around my neck.
The key strength of Resident Evil 7 in building that atmosphere is its effective use of audio, whether that be the rising tension of the music as you approach a darkened hallway, or the creaking of floorboards that makes you think you’re being watched from the shadows. If I had more intestinal fortitude, I’d have stuck some headphones on, but here we are.
Admittedly, the use of a walkthrough when playing a game for the first time is rare for me, and it was a decision that wasn’t taken lightly. There is a part of me that feels like I spoiled the core experience for myself in some way, but I also know that I probably wouldn’t have experienced the game at all otherwise, what with me being a massive coward and all.
But even with the benefit of a walkthrough letting me know when the jumpy moments and the shooty moments would occur, I still found myself cowering over what would be found in the next room, so going in blind would have probably sent me to an early grave. Eveline’s bedroom, a sequence that occurs during the middle portion of the game, is the perfect example of that.
That section of the game establishes quickly that you’re probably not alone, with the music and tension rising to a fever pitch as you explore a previously unseen part of the Baker residence. Even though I knew when things would pop off, wandering around in the dark waiting for something to happen was still completely unnerving. Then things did pop off and I shit myself anyway. Whether that’s a testament to how immersive Resident Evil 7 can be or further proof of how much I need a backbone is up for debate.
But even if Resident Evil 7 wasn’t the spookiest game I’ve played in a while, I’d likely still be reaching for that walkthrough. The way that the game handles resource management and collectibles, along with the sometimes non-linear way with which you can tackle objectives, would have meant that without a guide, I’d have wandered around the Baker house clueless for six hours and wrote an article about that. If anything, this seems like the lesser of two evils.
Now that I know what to expect though, along with where the puzzle solutions and secrets are, there’s every possibility I’ll be making a second visit to the Baker household, and not just because there’s an achievement for getting the other ending. Okay, it’s mostly because of that, but it’s also because I genuinely enjoyed my time with the game.
The biggest barrier for me playing Resident Evil 7 was that fear of the unknown, but now that I’ve been educated in the ways of the mutants from the Bayou, I’ll be able to fully immerse myself in the world without relying on the crutch that is the gameplay walkthrough. I might even try it on a harder difficulty too, if I’m feeling saucy.
There’s also the DLC packs for me to play. I’ve already finished the Not A Hero expansion, which many felt didn’t quite live up to the base game, but it gave me some genuine catharsis. The Molded, these damned monsters that I’ve been afraid of for a solid eight-hour campaign, ended up falling like dominoes due to the impressive weaponry of Mr Boulder Puncher himself, Chris Redfield. It’s a welcome flip on the gameplay established in the regular campaign.
Though I might have ruined the experience of an initial playthrough of Resident Evil 7, the game still provided a tense and gripping experience that stuck with me long after the credits rolled. If that isn’t the mark of a special game, I’m not sure what it is.
Good news for you guys: the Pile of Shame articles will be taking a break for a couple of weeks. With the review games coming in and EGX on the horizon, there’s not enough time for it right now. I’ll pepper my bad takes into other articles though, don’t you worry.
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