Initial thoughts on Resi 7’s performance & Evil Deadiness

Adam’s handling our full Resident Evil 7 [official site] review, but in the meantime I thought I’d share some more immediate thoughts on how it runs, what it looks and feels like and if it seems at all on course to be the series reinvention it strove for. (By which I mean: I really, really wanted to play it too and this is how I justify doing so in work hours.)

Note that this does not include any storyline spoilers outside of the barest facts of the setting, or anything specific about the threats you face, but does discuss the broader structure and nature of some early obstacles. If you want to in totally cold, don’t read this yet, but if you already know basically what Resi 7 is about, you’ll be fine.

I’ll do the dry technical stuff before I talk about the game itself. First thing to say is that it runs more or less like a dream. The only settings that knocked it below yer 60 whatnots for me (on a Radeon R9 Nano running at 2560×1440) was shadows at Very High and ambient occlusion at HBAO+ – neither of which made any appreciable visual difference when set one notch lower. Maxing either of these two features out did 20 FPS worth of damage, but honestly, didn’t need ’em.

The only other thing to mention in terms of performance is that having it set to Borderless Window rather than Fullscreen also shaved between 10 and 20 frames off, depending on the scene I was in. Fortunately, it alt-tabs like a champ even in fullscreen, so this isn’t a biggie.

More of a biggie is that Resi 7: The Whole Boogaloo doesn’t look as horribly lovely as the demo which preceded it did. Textures are noticeably less detailed, and all told there’s a slight patina of sludge even to environments shared wholesale with the excellent demo. It’s not awful, but it is a disappointment: I was all set for splendour based on what I’d played a couple of weeks ago. I even overclocked my graphics card specially, the nerd equivalent of spraying on a little Davidoff Cool Water before going out to bore their date senseless.

I don’t know if the reason for this is that development urgency meant the full game just couldn’t enjoy that extra bit of spit and polish that a short, contained demo can, or that its additional and in some cases expanded environments simply means that it’s more limited in how high-end it can go. Anyway, it’s one of those things that people are complaining about, but it’s a wee small letdown, not at all a deal-breaker.

Same goes for the sad (SAD! – Ed) lack of 21:9 support – this only affects a few of us I know, but it’s always a shame that the option to see games at their absolute best is absent, and once again, the demo did offer this. Bizarre, really. Black bars it is for me, but I can live with that because…

…so far, coming up to the two-hour mark, this is a very good videogame. First and foremost, it’s been consistently unsettling so far, even when some of its key threats are in plain sight. At least some of its initial environments (and even a couple of sequences) are shared with the demo, and even having toured those a couple of times already, they still wove their sinister spell. More so, if anything, because differences both subtle and overt meant that I’d occasionally fall into a sort of complacency – oh, I know what’s there already – only to have my expectations sometimes dramatically confounded.

But even without the big stuff, this is a foetid house haunted by creaks and thuds that often sound far too close for comfort, and slumped shapes in the shadow suggest monstrous things without necessarily being them. As in the demo, every step is accompanied by the sick sense that something is going to happen – that something is going to appear. Sometimes, it does. Very rarely is it what I might have predicted it to be.

Oh, there’s no shortage of tropes here, even down to a protagonist who doesn’t quite seem to notice how blatantly monstrous the situation he’s in is until too late (e.g. simply saying ‘damn’ when the front door locks itself behind him, and failing to make any comment about photographs which clearly show the person he’s looking for has been in grave danger but blandly muttering ‘must be the people who live here’ at another, plainer photo nearby). In some respects, the art design particularly goes overboard, but taken as part of a deeply unsettling whole, it’s all good. By which I mean Jesus Christ.

What’s delighted me most of all, however, is a key shift in the nature of the game. And I don’t mean the first-person perspective, although that does play a massive part of ramping up the fear factor – there’s far more claustrophobia and sense of vulnerability than you get with a third-person camera. You can only see what’s ahead of you. It switches things up brilliantly. I suppose it’s more of a loss for people who have historically been in love with Resi characters, as there’s less to attach to here, but they were never the draw for me so I’m delighted by this new perspective.

Nor is the shift I’m talking about related to an apparent movie away from Resi’s traditional zombies, or even Resi 4’s more Lovecraftian take on the infected human concept. It’s about the fact that, so far, Resi 7 has moved from Living Dead to Evil Dead.

Anything may of course change in the later hours, but so far it’s not been a matter of facing up to or fleeing from a horde of voiceless enemies, but rather repeated entanglements with just one foe, who returns again and again no matter what you to do them, and, crucially, talks to you all the while.

We finally get to talk the monsters, but, as with the seductions and lullabies which characterise many Deadites’ initial interactions with Ash, in Resi 7 they’re playing mindgames. Not for comedy by any means – this is straight-faced horror – but it bites. Your enemy is a character, not a jobbing monster. And there are many question marks around them, as to what they may really be and how you should feel about them. I can’t go into any detail, of course, but the stuff I’m alluding to makes these encounters all the more chilling. Even the use of weapons has a brand new unpleasantness to it.

For all I know, come the next room I’ll just be headshotting a legion of identizombs, so don’t take any of this as gospel praise for the whole game – let’s wait to see what Adam has to say in the next day or two. It’s such a strong start though, dragging Resi back into relevancy and unpredictability, refreshing an old formula as sweepingly as 4 did. So far.

Does it feel like a Resident Evil game? Yes and no. It certainly evokes the claustrophobia, menace and uncertainty that I felt when I first played the original game, even though almost everything around that essential tone has changed. It’s also got that sense of grisliness and disgust that characterised the opening hours of Resi 4. It’s far more buttoned down than either of those, apart from when it’s in-your-face in a way the series has never tried before, but, essentially, we are back in a survival horror monster house.

I hope it can keep it up. Even if can’t, the thing’s been so consistently tense and threatening so far that I need to take a break every 10 minutes, so I suspect I’ll get my money’s worth out of it.

More soon. Hush, little baby, don’t say a word.

Resident Evil 7 Biohazard is out now on Windows via Steam and Humble for £40/$60/€50.

From this site

50 Comments

  1. Boondock says:

    I noticed that the game looked really strange when I maxed out the settings, the shadows in particular looked off. After playing with the settings for 15 minutes or so I realized that the game looks SIGNIFICANTLY better with FXAA+TAA compared to how it looks with MSAA. Normally I detest the slight blur post-processing AA causes, but in this case everything looked way better (in my opinion.)

  2. GameCat says:

    ” I suppose it’s more of a loss for people who have historically been in love with Resi characters”

    For me characters are like at least half of appeal of REsi games and horror games in general, so switching to FPP is a huge step back. :/
    I prefer to care about game characters rather than play as player avatar. I’m sitting in cozy bed/couch, I can turn off the game at any time and walk away. Game characters can’t.

    • soijohn says:

      Well yes… except no, in my opinion. Having a blank slate character as your player character does not imply that you can’t have good characters, storylines in the game ( dark souls, rpgs, dragon age, whatever ).
      FPP is a good throwback to the first REs i think ( it’s the same idea of restricting your field of view, being claustrophobic ) but the drawback is indeed that the main character is less fleshed out.
      It does mean tho that i’m right here, in the action, with my own eyes, my hands, my fear closer to the game that i could ever be with the other games. That’s the new generation of horror games brought by amnesia & others and capcom tried to mix it with their own style of game design. We’ll see in the long run if it works.

  3. thekelvingreen says:

    Do you get to punch flying boulders out of the air?

  4. Ckrauser says:

    The thing I love most about this game is the doors that you have to physically push open, it really adds to the dread when being chased or not knowing what might pop out on the other side.

  5. racccoon says:

    Very Enclosed, Very Limited, Do This But Not that! or don’t play at all! Which I’m doing, i’m giving it away to friend and as its TIED to CRAPPY STEAM I got to give him my password!
    The game is far to restricted and instructed. IT MAY AS WELL BE A MOBILE GAME! Its very frustrating & totally disappointing!
    Yes its HORRIFIC! GORY! BLOODY! DISGUSTING! but, it just does not allow you to be able to open anything freely but what they want you too! I saw a loads of weapons I could use and none of them I grab! windows, doors of cupboards all totally restricted!! WOW we can knock over stuff! so lame to have that just as fun! this makes a total bore in today’s world of gaming. They failed! Not in HORROR! but failed in allowance of normal exceptions of general game play by wandering and ability to use the surroundings.

    • Buggery says:

      Settle down, Beavis

    • MultiVaC says:

      New Resident Evil totally LINEAR! Crooked Capcom has lost their touch and only makes loser games now. Sad!

    • Sabbatai says:

      You don’t have to give anyone your password. You can share your entire Steam library with up to 5 other people.

      You have to log in to Steam once on their computer.

      If you give your password to anyone, even your best friend… you aren’t being very wise. You likely have a lot of money tied up in your account. Be smart about it and use the tools Steam gives you.

    • Shakes999 says:

      *yawn* Gamer goes on diatribe about how great game doesn’t meet his arbitrary standards.

    • thekelvingreen says:

      So… 7/10 then?

    • Premium User Badge

      Severn2j says:

      As long as you figured out you dont like it in the first two hours (which is reasonable, imo), then you can just refund it.

    • Creeping Death says:

      Maybe try playing past the first hour to get to the stage where it stops tutorializing you?

      Or dont, and use the Steam refund process. Whatever.

  6. JoeX111 says:

    I found that the game had a blurry, sludgy look until I played with the settings a bit. Having the default Rendering Method set at Interlaced instead of Normal seemed to be the biggest culprit. Also making sure Ambient Occlusion was set to HBAO+ and Resolution Scaling to 1 (versus the default of 0.8) made a world of difference for me.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      Christ, I can’t believe these are how the settings are by default. Thank God for graphics options, eh?

    • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

      These sound more horrifying than anything that could be in the game. Gotta remember to jump straight into the options when I run it for the first time. Scaling 0.8 by default? Is this how games run “fine” these days?

      • funkstar says:

        FWIW none of those things were my defaults. Im guessing it does some sort of ‘optimising’ on first load

    • samination says:

      So true. When I first booted the game up to see what it looked like I thought I was playing an N64 game or losing my vision. Then, I thankfully changed those same settings and it was night and day. Why on earth would they make those default. So many people are playing it like that right now.

  7. SimonSays says:

    From all the impressions this seems like it is going to be a great game – I am a little disappointed in the length (from what I am seeing 12 hours if you stretch it). I would be insta-buying this but it was just Xmas and I have to get through all the games I bought – also $80 Canadian is pushing it for a digital release of that length.

    • Muffintop says:

      Took me about 7 and a half hours to beat first playthrough, and there is an achievement for doing it in under 4. Bout the same length as any other RE title, in other words.

      • Troubletcat says:

        That’s similar in length to the early RE games but way shorter than RE4/5/6 on a first playthrough. RE6 and RE4 are both around 20-25 hours on a first playthrough and RE5 isn’t much shorter.

        That said, I think keeping the experience brief is often better for horror games rather than dragging it out. RE4/5/6 were really all action games more than they were horror.

        • Plake says:

          The games you mention DON’T clock in at above 10-12 hours the first time, except you’re extremely bad at 3rd person action games! 4 and 5 even have the RPG as unlock, when your faster than 5 hours (no clue about the abomination called 6, though). Sure, getting all collectibles takes longer, but only because you need to also read a guide at the same time!

          • Troubletcat says:

            Here’s 286 people who disagree with you.
            link to howlongtobeat.com
            And 628 for RE4.
            link to howlongtobeat.com

            RE5 is generally closer to 10-12 hours apparently. I was going off my personal experience in my first post and RE5 is definitely the one of the three that I remember the least.

            RE4 is a lot longer than people remember. RE6, each of the 3 main campaigns is something like 6-8 hours alone plus the 4th campaign (which is shorter and kind of bad). I’ve played through both games a half-dozen times now and can finish either of them much faster than that, but they’re not short games.

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            Even at a conservative (not to mention blatantly inaccurate) 5 hours, a game that cost 40 quid means you’re paying 8 pounds an hour to be entertained. Well let me tell you, being an electrician is a lot easier than developing AAA games, and I don’t get out of bed for less than £25/h.

          • lordcooper says:

            That’s about the most useless comparison you could possibly make. Several million people aren’t paying you for one job as an electrician.

          • Creeping Death says:

            @ColonelFlanders Time for that age old comparison. Still works out cheaper than seeing a 2 hour film in the cinema!

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            Its an old comparison, but it’s still a useful one. If it’s valuable to you as the consumer then it’s good value. If it isn’t then don’t buy it. What I’m saying serves as a friendly reminder that in a world full of expensive shit, video games are good value and have been getting better in value for years.

            And for the snarky footnote: If you don’t like spending money on entertainment then go find something worth your cash, but until then stop complaining like the world has dealt poor you such a tough fuckin hand.

  8. Kitsunin says:

    It’s interesting that they’ve moved forward by being much more similar to Haunting Ground than a traditional “Survival Horror”. That is, having singular, undefeatable foes.

    Incidentally, if you like horror and want to fire up an emulator, you have to play Haunting Ground. It’s the Silent Hill 2 of crap your pants terror.

    • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

      So… Silent Hill 2, in other words?

      • Kitsunin says:

        Silent Hill 2 is more the Silent Hill 2 of creepy and unsettling as hell.

    • TrynePlague says:

      If you’re playing it with the right atmosphere around you (Sound UP, lights off, all alone), then there’s no single game more disturbing than SH2. Masterpiece.

  9. Kefren says:

    Does this have Denuvo like the demo? That would put me off. With the demo the game didn’t run until I went to a website (it directed me to – with no mention of what it was, who owned it, or anything – even the homepage of it gave an error when I tried to truncate the URL). I had to copy and paste a code from there. The problem was that my router was having problems. I couldn’t get to the website on my PC. So I visited it on my phone but then realised the code was pages long, impossible to write down. It took me days until my router was fixed and I could play the demo.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Sounds kinda fishy. Did not experience this at all and can’t imagine that it would be related to the game. More like malware on your system.

      • Kefren says:

        It looks that way, but it is actually Denuvo – it’s what happens if the game can’t connect to their servers when it wants to (something you have no control over). The codefusion.technology URL was apparently the giveaway, I found out later. This was part of what I wrote in my eventual review of the demo:

        I managed to download the game, but when I first went to play it I was having Internet problems. So instead of running it popped up a box with hundreds of random characters in that I was supposed to paste into a “codefusion.technology” web page. Of course, I couldn’t access that web page on my PC because my Internet was down. I could maybe use mobile Internet on my phone, but there was no way I could type in all those random characters and symbols, to get another page of hundreds of random characters I’d then have to type on my PC (presuming that would work). I used my phone to try and find out what this codefusion.technology thing is – nowhere does it mention DRM or Denuvo, it was later that I realised that’s what it was, but they try and hide the fact from you. You can’t even truncate the URL to get to a homepage – it gives no information at all.

        Days later I got the router and Internet problems sorted. When I eventually got to the codefusion.technology web pages they were blank. Yet more hassles until I worked out that it was trying to run some scripts that were rightly blocked by my browser as security risks. I had to enable those. Then the button to get the code I needed didn’t work due to Adobe flash errors, and requests to install new versions of that. Lots of time was wasted along the way. I eventually got it working. All that just to play a demo. There is no way I’d ever pay for a game with Denuvo in, it’s the biggest pile of crap. So much wasted time and hoops to jump through if you have this kind of problem means you’re in a bad mood by the time the game eventually first runs. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more of a fuss about Denuvo. My first experience of it will be the last. Without that the demo would have made me very interested in Resi 7. But now the thought of it just annoys me.

      • Kefren says:

        These are examples of the pages Denuvo sends you to:

        link to support.codefusion.technology
        link to support.codefusion.technology
        link to support.codefusion.technology
        link to support.codefusion.technology

        I’m surprised RPS hasn’t written more about Denuvo and how it works, and what problems it can cause, since it seems to be used a lot more now. Maybe because it’s one of those things where – if there are no problems – you don’t notice it and assume it is fine. But as soon as you hit a snag (e.g. Internet access problem) it becomes a massive headache.

    • Premium User Badge

      Severn2j says:

      From the Steam Store page:-

      Incorporates 3rd-party DRM: Denuvo Anti-tamper
      5 different PC within a day machine activation limit

      • Kefren says:

        Thanks, that clinches it. I’ll wait until they strip out the Denuvo (as Inside and Doom 4 did) – my Internet isn’t always reliable and I don’t want to go through those hassles again!

  10. tonicer says:

    I watched a couple of youtubers and streamers play it and it looks just awful and very ugly but that’s normal nowadays where every game is a fucking consoleport or made to look just as ugly on PC as it looks on consoles on purpose.

    I dream of a time when consoles are a thing of the past and hope that time will come this or next year.

    Multi-platform sucks balls.

    Don’t believe me? Imagine a game like this but exclusively build for PC. What’s the normal amount of RAM gaming PC’s have nowadays? 16GB or 32GB? The levels could be incredibly detailed and huge with lots of interactive stuff in them. In this game and all the other “impressive” console games almost everything is nailed down.

    • TrynePlague says:

      Without consoles, most of these games and the companies creating them simply wouldn’t exist unfortunately. I wouldn’t like a world without Marios, Final Fantasies, Shenmues, Sonics, Soul Caliburs, and so much more… :(

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        You are correct and incorrect. Back in the good old days when we all had Segas and Nintendos, PCs were a seriously expensive and mostly useless tool for every day life, whereas consoles were cheap (ish) and powerful tools that allowed us to play games that none of us could afford to spec a PC for. So in that respect you’re absolutely right, ajd thank fuck that all happened.

        On the the other side of the coin though, you now have Sony and Microsoft competing to become the gaming industry’s biggest bullshit artists; selling us underpowered hardware that’s already worse than most of the reasonably priced gaming PCs that are out at the time of console launch with the promise that they are the next big thing ™. In my opinion console gaming is really stymying development of video games – developers are making lazy ports, hardware is all over the place and people who want to play games have to buy 4 machines if they want to play them all. It’s utter horseshit that this is going on in this day and age, worse than the whole VHS Betamax war back in the day was. All these companies are so desperate to make a quick buck off us that they are making the consumers’ lives more awkward, which is precisely the opposite of what needs to happen.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Cost is the biggest impact factor on making something more interactive, not the hardware it’s on.

    • Creeping Death says:

      “I dream of a time when consoles are a thing of the past and hope that time will come this or next year.”

      Congratulations, triple A gaming is dead. Enjoy pushing that PC hardware to it’s limit with mobile phone ports and indie games!

      • Troubletcat says:

        PC-exclusive AAA games are already a thing and would continue to be a thing. Steam peaks at over 12 million concurrent users every day. That is a plenty big customer base to fund AAA development.

        That said, consoles aren’t going anywhere for a long time yet. There’ll be a market for “budget PC with a closed platform” for a couple more generations at least.

  11. PoulWrist says:

    Guru3d’s performance review of this also found a ton of weird things with it. Which is odd, because the demo seemed to run just fine. Demo was probably done a lot later in the process and on a newer version of the tech with a lot of knowledge on how to get things working. Which was not backported to the stable branch of the game proper.

  12. Xenotone says:

    I was definitely wanting this until the 21:9 bit. Now I’ll wait until the distant future when I have an HDR capable telly.