Resident Evil 7 was a welcome departure from the previous entries in the series, which focused more and more on global disasters than actual scary stuff.
It is the first instalment in the series to be played from the first person perspective and it came out a year after Umbrella Corps which was received, well, rather poorly. By trading the global for the local, the game reinvigorated the franchise and is a strong candidate for the best horror game of the year.
As the protagonist, Ethan, you are exploring a seemingly abandoned home in search of your missing wife, Mia. While the game clearly has some flaws - like how does Mia get to record all these tapes and how does she manage to leave them for Ethan after being caught by the family? - it succeeds because it's scary.
Here are five specific ways in which it achieves that effect, serving as lessons many other developers will hopefully learn.
When Ethan enters the Dulvey Haunted House, he is not suspicious or anything, even though there are a lot of things wrong there, things that might scare away every actual everyman.
While Ethan's lack of questioning what he sees is definitely a flaw, it really would not be possible to consequently push the plot forward, had he decided to run away.
Stuck on the property, Ethan has to find a way out, but, simultaneously, he learns that he is basically helpless. Mia is possessed, hence dangerous, so he clearly can't depend on her. The Bakers seem immortal, resistant to chainsaw attacks or gunshots. His only ally is Zoe, the daughter, who also wants to leave this place.
However, because she just contacts him over the phone, Ethan (and by turn, you) is physically alone in his quest for saving his life (and wife).