*This review contains minor spoilers for Resident Evil 7’s main campaign.
When it came out that Capcom was planning on releasing additional DLC alongside Not A Hero to complete the overall story arc of Resident Evil 7, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It reminded me of when Bioware reworked the ending to Mass Effect 3 after huge fan backlash — was it completely necessary to put a bowtie on the story of a character we didn’t have a chance to become familiar with? It turns out I was wrong, very wrong. End of Zoe serves as the perfect terminus for Resident Evil 7 and its characters, while managing to provide an incredibly satisfying gameplay experience that begs to be replayed once the credits have rolled.
End of Zoe begins at the point where Ethan decides to cure his wife Mia, instead of Zoe Baker, and leaves her to her fate on the Bakers’ river dock. As Zoe makes her way through the woods, ready to accept her inevitable doom, she becomes calcified and immobile. Soon she is discovered by a bearded man, only to find out that the man is Joe Baker, brother of Jack Baker himself. Seeing his niece in such a state, Joe takes it upon himself to find out what happened to her and to save her life — if he can.
End of Zoe shows how the development team can flex their creative muscles to make something that feels completely different from the main product, and have it still exist in the same framework.
Like Chris Redfield, Joe Baker has his own particular set of strengths and skills. Instead of opting for a large weapons arsenal, Joe’s main weapons are his fists. Combos can be utilized for quicker or stronger punches, and the gameplay encourages the player to observe the enemy and respond to their attacks, like ducking or dodging side to side. Healing also receives an aesthetic rework; instead of relying on medicinal herbs, Joe lives off the swamp, finding centipedes and bugs to ingest and replenish his health. The bugs can also be combined with chemical fluid to increase their potency. Aside from good old fisticuffs, a limited number of firearms can be obtained, as well as a device that brings punching to a new level of enjoyment.
Opting for hand-to-hand combat in End of Zoe allows for the gameplay to feel quite different from Resident Evil 7’s main campaign and accompanying DLC. Due to the fact that he lacks Ethan Winters’ helplessness and fear, the scare factor is slightly reduced because of this approach and is further lessened by Joe’s apparent indifference towards the enemies he encounters. For me, this actually gave me a bit of confidence and allowed me to play the game in a more action-oriented fashion, which was a wonderful change of pace. But, don’t get me wrong — Resident Evil 7’s slow, deliberate, and tension-building approach is utterly fantastic; End of Zoe just shows how the development team can flex their creative muscles to make something that feels completely different from the main product, and have it still exist in the same framework.
End of Zoe is the final piece of an unforgettable experience that began on January 24, 2017, in the form of the highly anticipated Resident Evil 7. It carves its own identity amongst the large amount of post-release DLC, and manages to come out on top as the most exciting and replayable. The only fault I can point out is that the conclusion comes much too quickly after giving us a taste of refreshing hand-to-hand combat, and introducing us to the incredibly interesting (and slightly comical) Joe Baker. End of Zoe is highly recommended for Resident Evil 7 enthusiasts to enjoy and provides an extremely satisfying conclusion to the game’s overall narrative while leaving a thirst for even more.