Resident Evil 7 is one of the most successful reboots in recent history, uniting the critics with a Metacritic rating of 85. The fact that this feels surprising, after the bombastic-but-boring Resident Evil 6, says everything about the decline of a series that changed the gaming landscape twice. But how does the reboot of Resi 7 get so much right? And what can other games learn from it? We tied the GamesRadar team to kitchen chairs and fed them whatever-the-****-it-is-they-feed-you-in-Resi 7 – probably offal gumbo – until they revealed their innermost thoughts. Well, those that didn’t reply via email first, that is.

“Every step of Resi 7 is a nod to the best horror movies of the last twenty years.”

Put simply, Resi 7 isn’t afraid to scare you. Survival horror has come a long way since we first walked into the original Resi mansion but, until now, Capcom hadn’t evolved with the changing scares. Yes, we’ve been afraid of running out of bullets before, but this is a new kind of fear. The first person helplessness, the filth of the Baker house, the perfect stark terror of walking down a flight of stairs into a pitch black basement and knowing that the low groans you can hear aren’t just the boiler making an odd sound. Every step of Resi 7 is a nod to the best horror movies of the last twenty years and, in turn, an evolution of the survival horror genre. There are moments where the more Resi elements jar with the game that the franchise has become but, like a stapled on hand, somehow, once the blood congeals, the blend of old and new nasty works just fine. Louise Blain

“The greatest video game sequels always build on their existing foundations.”

At some point over the past 15 years, the idea of a sequel metastasized under an onslaught of focus testing and voracious executives desperate for audience expansion. This resulted in a tide of “reboots” that borrowed the names of older games but had more or less nothing to do with what made the original special in the first place and numbered follow ups that added unnecessary bloat in an attempt to appeal to every type of player. (Resident Evil has been guilty of both, with crap spinoffs like Operation Raccoon City and cloying attempts at Call of Duty-style populism in Resident Evil 5 and 6.) The greatest video game sequels always build on their existing foundations. Resident Evil 7 is a startlingly ingenious little puzzlebox, a hall of nightmares even smaller than the original trilogy’s PlayStation environments. It confines and oppresses you at every opportunity, fostering a feeling of dread familiar from games like Outlast but executed with unparalleled skill and artistry. Beneath that newness and propping it up, though, are the bones of past Resident Evils; the puzzles, the resource management, the hint of campiness. It’s sequel design that puts creativity ahead of dim business concerns. Anthony John Agnello

“It remains faithful to what makes a Resi game Resi without being trapped by it.”

Resi 7 succeeded as a reboot because it’s a good game with or without that name attached. On the face of it so much has changed – it’s first person instead of third, it focuses on a tiny cast and small groups of enemies instead of hordes. The refresh makes it more approachable for first timers, but at the same time it remains friendly to those who know the game, with familiar mechanics and design that remind those players of what world it’s in. It remains faithful to what makes a Resi game Resi without being trapped by it, which most importantly allows it to draw on more recent influences, dragging the series kicking and (mainly) screaming to meet modern tastes. Leon Hurley

Previous articleHere’s 10 minutes of Splatoon 2 gameplay
Next articleLoved Resi 7? Here are seven more horror games ready to terrorise this year