The Resident Evil series got a well-needed shot of adrenaline this year with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, a lovingly crafted return to form for the series’ survival horror roots. Capcom not only managed to inject new life into one of their most beloved properties, but also unexpectedly created one of the years best gaming experiences. From the eerie, unsettling setting to the malevolent and terrifying Baker family as the antagonists, Resident Evil 7 ticked all the boxes for how a dying series should be rejuvenated in all the right ways. Almost a year later, with the release of Resident Evil 7: Gold Edition, Capcom continues to add a surprising amount of content to the base game, but is it any good?
For those unfamiliar with the plot of Resident Evil 7, the game takes place in the bayous of Louisiana. Ethan Winters, our protagonist, receives a distressing message from his wife, Mia, who was thought to be dead for over three years. The message leads him to the doorstep of a dilapidated mansion, home to the insane Baker family, who now hold her captive. As much of a detour as the story is for Resident Evil canon, it actually does a damn great job of convincing players that it is still, in fact, your traditional RE game, filled to the brim with well-timed jumpscares and the ever-so-stressful item management.
It should go without saying, but the base game is still phenomenal. For those just picking up Resident Evil 7 for the first time, you’ll find a lot of great content, superb first-person gameplay, and masterful atmospheric tension to get absorbed in. However, the Gold Edition of the game features a few additional DLC on top of an already incredible experience. The first in the line-up is the Banned Footage tapes, with both Volume 1 and Volume 2 included. Volume 1 features two new video tapes not featured in the main game, the first of which puts you in control of one of the remaining TV crew members from the demo who tried to break into the rundown Baker estate. Here, they find themselves tied to a bed and “nurtured” by Marguerite Baker. While there’s not much to do in the tape other than formulate a plan of escape (with predictably fatal consequences), it’s still an intense fight for survival in an uncompromising space. The obvious comparisons will be made to Stephen King’s Misery, but I feel like this was an intentional choice given the already heavily-inspired Texas Chainsaw Massacre campaign.
The second tape, Nightmare, lets players take control of yet another TV crew member (these guys really can’t catch a break) as they are tasked with making it through the night while battling an onslaught of enemies. It’s a very Horde-like mode that feels more in-tune with the bonus content from the previous cycle of Resident Evil games, but it does provide ample amounts of challenge for those who found the campaign just a bit too easy. As a reward for beating Nightmare, you get an even more challenging variant called Night Terror, but I barely made it past ten minutes before I was overwhelmed by bloodthirsty creatures trying to make me the main ingredient of their spitbraai.
The second volume is where things get slightly more interesting, at least from a creative perspective. As with the first Banned Footage DLC, Volume 2 features two tapes. The first, titled 21, is Jigsaw-wannabe Lucas Bakers' moment in the spotlight. The minigame straps players down in a seat facing another masked opponent, and are tasked with playing the most grizzly game of blackjack ever conceived. The twists in this minigame keeps things fresh and unpredictable, reflecting the uncanny traps seen in the Saw film franchise. Unfortunately, there’s not much replay value outside of the tape, and I just wish there was more to this pretty ingenious DLC. The second tape, titled Daughters, acts as a prequel to the entire game as seen through the eyes of Zoe Baker. It documents the Baker family as they first discover Eveline and get “possessed” by her. Much like the Mia tapes from the base game, you’re pretty much just running around dark corridors and hiding for a majority of the tape. It’s over before you know it, and while it is great to see the heartbreaking downward spiral of this caring family, it doesn’t do much to justify its existence.
The Not A Hero DLC is one that many fans were eager to play, including myself, if just for the fact that we finally got to take control of the fan-favourite, boulder-punching Chris Redfield. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t actually get to punch boulders in this 2-hour epilogue (damn shame if you ask me) but the gameplay is satisfying enough to get a pass. Chris is an overpowered killing machine, slaying hordes of enemies like a hot knife through butter. This is in direct contrast to Ethan’s vulnerability, which added an incredible amount of tension to the base game. Unfortunately, Chris’ almost invincible power over the enemies deflates this tension and comes across as a power fantasy for Resident Evil fans. Not to say this is entirely a bad thing, but it does detract from the point of ‘survival’ horror when your only survival element is making sure your arsenal never runs out of a ridiculous amount of bullets.
The final DLC, End of Zoe, is easily the best addition to the Gold Edition. Players assume the role of Joe, Jack’s brother and Zoe’s uncle, as he desperately tries to save his niece from Eveline’s spreading infection. The story, albeit quite short, is very touching and adds a great amount of depth to the characters involved. Joe is surprisingly likable, and his strong desire to save what remains of his family is powerful. Like Chris, Joe is also somewhat of a killing machine and doesn’t hesitate to punch a few holes in enemies. However, he’s also very resourceful, and makes use of items and objects lying around to craft weapons. Overall, End of Zoe is a fitting, emotionally resonant slice of content that gives a lot of sympathy to the Bakers.
Resident Evil 7: Gold Edition doesn't provide a drastic change to the phenomenal experience of the base game, but the additional content is rewarding enough to warrant another visit to the dreaded Baker mansion. The Banned FootageDLC may lack replay value, but Not A Hero is a ton of fun despite its flaws, and the End of Zoe is the best extended backstory we’ve got for the villains of the game. If you haven’t picked up Resident Evil 7 yet, the Gold Edition is certainly worth the purchase, but since Not A Hero is already free for owners of the base game, I’d only recommend this for either die-hard fans, collectors or newcomers.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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12 December 2017
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