Disability Game Review: Resident Evil 7
Written By: Michael Matlock
Resident Evil has gone back to its roots with Capcom’s newest entry in the series. Having a first-person perspective and a slower pace, Resident Evil 7 focuses on survival horror above all else. To build on a more classic horror theme the game was inspired by The Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. Resident Evil 7 has you trapped in a house with the Baker family, a group of backwoods psychopaths living in Louisiana. You play as Ethan Winters and his wife Mia as you fight to survive in the Bakers’ house of horrors. Much like other modern first-person horror games this game encourages you to run and hide rather than attack enemies head on. However, Resident Evil 7 differs from them in that you can also choose to use weapons like guns and melee types if you so desire. This makes for a great blend of stealth and action.
I expect Resident Evil 7 to be somewhat challenging for disabled gamers with fine motor skill impairments. Precise aiming of your gun and quick movements during combat may be too much to handle for some disabled gamers. For me personally, first-person games are usually difficult to play because of both control sticks being required to move and aim simultaneously. However, Resident Evil 7 offers a variety of customizable controls that helps with this problem. Although not completely flexible, Resident Evil 7 lets you invert the trigger buttons (which are your attack and defend commands) and the control stick buttons (which let you sprint and crouch). Sprinting may make things easier in the game, but I can honestly say that I never once had to use it to beat the game. You can also swap the left and right control sticks. This feature is the sole reason I was even able to play Resident Evil 7 on the PlayStation 4. The game has an aim assist option that not only points you to the nearest enemy, but also it combines the aim and fire buttons for an easier combat experience. Like I stated before combat can be tricky in the game. Though I can say that many of the common enemies in Resident Evil 7, such as monsters called the Molded, can be avoided. The game intentionally gives you a small amount of ammo to work with so you’re encouraged to conserve resources or plan accordingly. One tip I can give is that I found the Molded to be easy enemies to avoid as long as you get behind a closed door. The Molded can’t open doors, so if you can go into a room and close the door before they get inside you’ll be safe. If you’re quick enough you can get to your destination without having to fight them at all. Dealing with the Baker family won’t be as simple. The family members can’t be killed except for very specific moments in the game. There are several safe rooms in the game they keep you safe from harm entirely. You will know these rooms by the change in music and the cassette players on a desk which allow you to save your progress. If you are not near a safe room when you encounter one of the family members, you will have very few options. You can try to escape from them or hit them with every weapon in your arsenal to weaken them and buy you some time. This is where a lower difficulty level can give you some much needed support. Resident Evil 7 offers three different difficulty levels to choose from: Easy mode, Normal mode, and Hard mode (another harder difficulty mode is available after you complete the game for the first time). On Easy mode, you’re given a much larger health meter and the ammo in the game is less sparse. I recommend this mode for any disabled gamer having trouble with the combat in Resident Evil 7.
Gamers with hearing impairments shouldn’t have any trouble playing this game. Resident Evil 7 has reliable subtitles available, as well as an icon that can be switched on in order to let deaf players know of background noises such as a telephone. Like most survival horror games, the soundtrack has a lot of eerie noises that help build tension. However, Resident Evil 7 is full of disturbing imagery, dilapidated old houses, and massive amounts of gore which helps create atmosphere in other ways. On the visual side of things, the game offers many different options to suit disabled gamers’ needs. When you take damage in Resident Evil 7 the screen becomes slowly covered in blood splatter. If players feel like the blood hinders their view, they can turn the blood splatter down in the options menu. There’s also a brightness scale you can change. For colorblind gamers, the game gives you the option to change the color of your aiming reticle or remove it entirely if you want. I will say that many of the puzzle and healing items in the game are different colors so the player will know their purpose. You will find chemical fluid in different colors like red, yellow, and green. When combined with other items they do different things. You’ll also be collecting seemingly mundane items that will help you solve puzzles. You can find three of the same puzzle item but they might be differentiated by their color. Still all of these items are clearly labeled when examined.
Resident Evil 7 was a lot of fun to play and definitely unsettling. The enemies were difficult to deal with at first, but once I got the hang of it I had a good time taking them out with my collection of weaponry. The Baker family gave me the creeps. Whether it was their intense violence or their insane personalities, I haven’t been this scared by videogame enemies in quite some time. Disabled gamers with fine motor skill impairments might have a tough time dealing with combat in Resident Evil 7, but colorblind players will have a variety of accessibility options to choose from in the game. Even though the game was tough to beat, you can be sure that without the accessibility options available in Resident Evil 7 I wouldn’t be able to play it at all.
Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Barrier Free
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Barrier Free
Released For: PS4, Xbox One, PC
ESRB Rating: M