WARNING – There are small story spoilers for Resident Evil 7 in this review.
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Despite 2017 being a year of absolute stellar video game releases, my personal Game of the Year actually arrived back in January. I’ve been a huge Resident Evil fan for years, and despite being slightly disappointed with some of the more recent titles in the series, Resident Evil 7 was a true return to form that somehow managed to completely evolve how the game played whilst also taking it back to its classic survival horror roots.
Upon completing the game, I was excited to see that new story-related DLC was coming and that it would be free for all players – we live in a time where publishers cut content from releases and charge gamers for it, so this was incredibly refreshing. Best of all, it would feature veteran Resident Evil hero Chris Redfield; what more could you want?
After a bit of a delay, Resident Evil 7: Not A Hero has finally released, and whilst it doesn’t necessarily answer all of the questions gamers might have been left with after the main game’s conclusion, it certainly provides a decent incentive to return to the Baker Estate.
As mentioned, Resident Evil 7: Not A Hero puts you in the shoes of Chris Redfield as he looks to hunt down Lucas Baker following the conclusion of the main game. One of the twists at the end of the game was that Chris seemed to be working for Umbrella this time around – you know, the same villains who caused most of the problems throughout the entirety of the Resident Evil series. Don’t worry though, Chris hasn’t turned to the dark side; instead, Umbrella have ‘changed their ways’ and reformed as a PMC that want to hunt down all BOW distributors throughout the world, which just so happens to include Lucas Baker.
Fans had so many theories regarding Chris’ arrival at the end of Resident Evil 7 and what this might’ve meant, including that it might not actually be Chris but rather HUNK – everyone’s favourite Umbrella badass. It wasn’t to be though and instead we’re left with something that makes sense, but ultimately feels a little underwhelming.
It’s not that it’s not great to play as Chris Redfield, but rather that it almost felt forced in for the sake of feeling like an older Resident Evil title. Resident Evil 7 was such a breath of fresh air that you could’ve easily played through it in its entirety and not known it was a game in the franchise were it not for the arrival of Chris at the end – Not a Hero makes me feel like Capcom are gently reminding us that there’s a whole lot more to the universe than the seemingly isolated incident in Louisiana would let on and that this is definitely a Resident Evil game. It doesn’t really come with any daring reveals though nor does it seem to be building to anything bigger in the future, which is slightly disappointing.
Still, it’s nice to see Lucas’ tale wrapped up; whilst I really enjoyed every scene he featured in both in this DLC and in the main game, it wasn’t something I personally wanted to see played out for too long or over future instalments. It’s an interesting little game of cat-and-mouse played between him and Chris and it works well throughout the entirety of Not a Hero.
Rather than feature an all-new environment, Not a Hero instead takes place in the caverns you visit towards the end of Resident Evil 7. You won’t suffer with familiarity for too long though, since it takes you to some new locations within it – some of which tie in really well with the main story and what one of its characters went through.
Of course, you’re facing off against Lucas Baker – a trickster who always seems to be one step ahead of you. This means you’ll come across plenty of traps that need avoiding and puzzles that need solving, otherwise you’ll suffer a brutal, horrible fate. The encounters with Lucas’ traps in Resident Evil 7 were one of my favourite parts of the game, but they’ve been toned down a bit here. There aren’t huge elaborate puzzles to complete or overly tricky areas (or a creepy mechanical figure that carves a puzzle solution into your arm), but rather a few small sections where it shouldn’t take you too long to figure out the solution.
Some of these puzzles are connected to Chris’ protective mask, which can be enhanced with the use of an oxygen filter and night vision. Whilst the entire area of the game is available to explore from the get-go, you won’t actually be able to survive heading through them all thanks to the fact they’re either full of a toxic gas or are too dark and littered with dangerous traps. It isn’t an overly intricate feature of the game, but it was an interesting way to make the player feel like they were genuinely progressing through the content whilst still maintaining the feel of an open environment. Plus, it always gives you something different to worry about, which is essential in a horror title.
This is a Resident Evil game though, so naturally you’d probably need to worry about the grotesque monsters hunting you down rather than the dark. Whilst for the most part you’ll simple be facing off against the same Molded enemies that you encountered throughout Resident Evil 7, this time around there’s a twist – some of them can regenerate and can only be hurt by using a specific ammo type. With the game’s survival horror aspects, this ammo just so happens to be limited too, so you’ll often be picking and choosing your battles and running away from as many enemies as you kill. Resident Evil 7: Not a Hero actually puts you in a few enjoyable situations where you don’t have a choice but to take on your enemies though, and it’s certainly a bit more action-focused than the main game. Still, for better or worse you won’t be punching through boulders, so at least it maintains its sense of realism (even if Chris can kick a mine cart through a stack of heavy logs).
Oh, and there are also some new incredibly annoying Facehugger-like enemies to take down, as well as a great little boss battle that easily rivals those you encounter in the main game. It’ll only take you around an hour and a half to complete Not a Hero, but Capcom have certainly made an effort to ensure that those ninety minutes are full of action.
I’d be remiss not to mention that the entirety of Not a Hero can be played on Playstation VR. The main game was absolutely terrifying to play in virtual reality and whilst this little escapade is a lot shorter, it still features plenty of moments where the extra immersive vibe might make you pee a little – especially when heading through the caverns in night vision mode…
Not A Hero offers an enjoyable encounter with Lucas Baker and gives an action-packed reminder of just how good Resident Evil 7 is. Don’t get me wrong, outside of the boss battle it doesn’t really do anything that improves upon the main game, but it didn’t need to – it was fun enough from start to end without having to change the formula too much.
Whilst I’ll admit that playing as Chris Redfield didn’t offer too much extra to the overall narrative, seeing what went on behind the scenes of the main plotline was interesting. Still, I was a little disappointed that Chris just came in to tie up loose ends and didn’t have some shocking revelation that linked him in ready for future releases.
It’s a great little freebie though and it’s certainly worth getting Resident Evil 7 back in your console to see it through. It might not offer a startling conclusion to the game’s narrative, but the return to horror is still a very enjoyable one.