Resident Evil 7 introduced a choice in its final hours that drastically alters the outcome of the story. But the options — and subsequent DLC — were heavily skewed in favor of one ending over another. So what was the point of giving us a choice at all?
Spoiling Resident Evil 7
Towards the end of the game, protagonist Ethan is given the option of administering one person a curative serum. The choices are Mia, who is Ethan’s wife and the person whose rescue is his motivation for the entire game, and Zoe, his helper throughout this nightmare. You must decide which one to save, and this will lead you to two endings.
If you choose Mia, she rescues Ethan when he’s captured by Eveline and they’re both later rescued by Chris Redfield. If you choose Zoe, Eveline kills Zoe and Ethan is forced to kill Mia later, and he alone is rescued by Chris. The final boss is the same in both endings.
I’ve seen mixed reactions to this choice in Resident Evil 7, and admittedly I was a bit baffled when I saw my options. Call me an old romantic, but I felt as though there were no way Ethan would abandon his wife to her death after having just gone through moldy hell and back to save her, no matter how much he might like Zoe.
But the question of who’s more deserving — your wife or your friend — turns out to be moot. If you choose Zoe, both she and Mia die. If you choose Mia, not only does she live and escape, but Zoe’s story is set up for the End of Zoe DLC. In End of Zoe, in spite of what the name suggests, Zoe lives and is saved by her heretofore-unmentioned Uncle Joe.
It begs the query: Why even have the option in the first place? Is there a point to having a choice when one is a “better” or canonical one?
Spoiled for Choice
When a player is handed a choice like that, obviously they don’t know what the outcome will be. Having a choice that late in the game does signal that it’ll affect the ending, but not how. Mia was my first choice, so I can only imagine what it was like playing Resident Evil 7 for the first time, choosing Zoe, and then getting such a disappointing finale.
Like I said, I’m an old romantic, but suppose you really wanted to save your friend, who’s been helping you out and who was dealt the mother of all bad hands when Eveline showed up and enslaved her entire family. You make your choice, and then boom, she’s dead minutes later. How is the player supposed to glean that not saving her here will save her later? And that’s not even taking into account that End of Zoe came out almost a full year after the main Resident Evil 7, meaning if you did save Mia, Zoe was MIA that whole time.
Mechanically it doesn’t make any more sense, as there are no other choices anywhere else in the game — not choices of this import, anyway. Choice in video games is not something you can throw in at the final hour. If you do, it’s not difficult or challenging; it’s just baffling. It’s like making everyone take a pop quiz during lunch break — I refuse to believe it’s my fault for not being prepared for this.
Resident Evil games have had choice before, but not ones that lead to such blatantly mismatched endings. Give Barry his gun back or let Lisa kill him. Run from Nemesis or fight him. These choices affect what happens in the game and the ending, in obvious or not so obvious ways, but they didn’t give you a binary choice and then hand you a negative outcome you couldn’t have anticipated.
Is this all just to give the game the illusion of replayability? Is this some leftover from an earlier iteration of the game that had more options? It’s possible that this choice was the victim of some developmental cutbacks — I don’t know for sure. But if that were the case, I say they should have cut even further and removed the choice entirely.
What’s the point of including a choice when it doesn’t actually lead to vastly different outcomes and one ending is more positive anyway? It’s not really a choice in that case — more like an attempt to trick the player into going back and playing the ending over again.