Thursday 27 July 2017

Games: Family of fear stalk house of horror

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PS4/XO/PC) 5 Stars, Age: 18+

Resident Evil 7
Resident Evil 7
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

The most terrifying things are the ones you can't see. And for extended, lingering periods in this imperiously staged survival horror, you'll walk alone with nerves jangling and mind furiously racing.

Oh, you'll encounter plenty of grisly evidence - entrails, bloody tracks, sinister machinery - but it's those long stretches of nothing that amplify the terror when the ghouls come for you.

Resident Evil had lost its pant-wetting mojo in recent instalments but RE7 taps back into the franchise's finest hours with this unsettling yarn about a husband searching for his missing wife at a creepy Louisiana backwoods farm. The opening hour alone gives you a front-row view of dismemberment and a chainsaw attack - the faint of heart need not apply.

The demented Baker family - unkillable and relentless - stalk you at every turn. Or at least they appear to. But in fact their sudden, brutal attacks are masterfully spaced, their malevolent presence hinted at by creaking floorboards and unearthly shrieks.

The deliciously unhinged cast, lo-fi video sequences and macabrely decorated buildings evoke movie chillers such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Blair Witch. But RE7 is demonstrably its own animal, mixing gore and pathos with tense outbursts of violence.

Special mention must go to the PSVR version, which is identical to the other formats except that it literally puts you in the same rooms as those serial killer Bakers. It's a superlative experience for those with nerves of steel.

She Remembered Caterpillars

(PC/Mac) 4 Stars, Age: 7+

With a title like that, you'll be unsurprised to learn this €12 indie effort can be filed under 'quirky'.

SRC presents as a simple puzzle game involving colour-matching and character-swapping. But it's interwoven with a backstory of love and loss, and the relationship between parents and children. You might not make the connection at all between the two, but the puzzles in the foreground are ample reward. Decorated in a pretty, organic art style, SRC asks you to guide characters to their goals, with the paths gated according to colour.

It begins simply - blue blobs can pass over only blue bridges, for instance - but scales in difficulty when colour-mixing and multiple characters are introduced.

SRC is a contemplative little jewel whose puzzles begin to outstay their welcome only in the latter stages.

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