Resident Evil: Biohazard is the latest installment in the mostly acclaimed horror game franchise. The series’ first few installments focused strictly on the survival horror genre. Testing players by presenting them with challenging puzzles and limited resources to keep themselves alive. A real sense of terror and uncertainty surrounded the player always as they would struggle to find a solution to their task at hand. As the franchise continued, combat began to take center stage over the problem solving. This change did not sit well for much of those in love with the series. Long gone were the complicated puzzles where no item could be ignored. Monsters began to lose their horrifying mystique. The series had lost what made it unique and turned into a generic “horror” action shoot em up.
The story revolves around the game’s protagonist, Ethan, who has discovered that his missing wife, Mia, may be found in a strange mansion in a small Louisiana town. Ethan realizes that something is terribly wrong the second he enters the mansion. One mystery leads to another and Ethan struggles to discover what exactly is going on and how his wife is involved with it all. The family living within the mansion has an uncanny resemblance to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hiding from family members trying to capture Ethan leads to a suspenseful and uneasy experience.
Biohazard is the knight in shining armor that the franchise desperately needed. This entry is a return to the eerie and suspenseful problem solving that allowed the series to stick out from the beginning. Limited encounters with monstrous creatures cause for a panic filled fight or flight response. How to manage items becomes an important part of gameplay. Inventory space is incredibly limited and players eventually must choose between restoring health or saving up ammo. This struggle to stay alive is a frustrating yet fulfilling experience.
Players who have yet to play any game in the series should worry not. Biohazard functions as its own entity and has seldom callbacks to previous entries. The characters and situations are all entirely new.
Getting used to the controls is a seamless task. Biohazard does a terrific job in getting the player prepared for what lies ahead. The PC version of Biohazard allows players to use the traditional mouse and keyboard, or, players can use a PS4 or Xbox 360/One controller. The mouse and keyboard is smoother and quicker than the controller but the controller does have a more natural feel.
The trial and error factor is the only significant flaw Biohazard possesses. If the player fails to sneak past a family member and is killed. The suspense the second time around is almost entirely diminished. At one point, the task is to sneak around a rotted away house from the wife of the family. This sequence was so eerie that I found myself holding my breath as if any noise I made would alert her to my location. Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn and was then attacked by the wife and had to start over. I didn’t find myself nearly as frightened the second time around as I knew what I needed to do to move past the stalking wife.
A key to solving puzzles is to look at each note that may be in the area. While some may not do anything but establish backstory and the creepy environment. Others will specifically lay out how to how to find an item or progress through the labyrinth-like mansion.
Biohazard is nearly flawless in its attempt to frighten the player and have them think on a critical level. Players must balance a multitude or factors to succeed which becomes as frustrating as trying to solve the puzzles themselves. The multitude of mysteries popping up one after the other makes the game nearly impossible to put down. Players should find themselves endlessly curious and terrified as the progress through the game.