Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A video game, a card game, and a figurine to play with (or keep in the box)

The Card Players by Lucas Van Leyden (Photo: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard


As our own Matt Gerardi pointed out in his terrific game-in-progress dispatches, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard wears its horror-movie influences on its bloodied, mold-encrusted sleeve: Genre fans who fight their way through Capcom’s latest booby-trapped funhouse will be rewarded with subtle (and not-so-subtle) references to The Exorcist, Alien, Saw, The Blair Witch Project, and the gooey body-horror classics of David Cronenberg. To be sure, encountering allusions to these touchstones is a big part of RE7’s appeal; I never expected that I’d ever get to essentially “play” the infamous dinner-table scene from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre—and that it’d be nearly as scary as the real one. But for this longtime horror and Resident Evil junkie, the game’s most rewarding throwback may be to its own franchise roots. For all the fuss made about the switch to a first-person point of view—and for as much as the change looked, from the outside, like a blatant attempt to chase the buzz surrounding P.T., the playable trailer for that scrapped Silent Hill sequel—Biohazard is an old-school Resident Evil game at virus-plagued heart. In other words, expect lots of tense backtracking through monster-patrolled hallways, desperate preserving of scarce resources, and frustrated searching for animal-shaped statues that can be combined to create ornate keys. What Resident Evil 7 evokes is the nerve-shredding experience of playing the 1996 original—a game indebted, in its own way, to classic movies, namely the seminal zombie thrillers of George Romero—before Capcom ditched survival-horror for run-and-gun action gameplay. It’s agonizing in all the right ways, and a big comeback for a series with plenty of ups, downs, and bizarre permutations. [A.A. Dowd]

Funko’s Big Trouble In Little China figurines

I’ve never been a dedicated toy collector as an adult, but when I was standing in line at the bookstore the other day, I saw a display of Funko’s Big Trouble In Little China figures and had to get one. It was a tough choice between the movie’s main villain, Lo Pan, and his henchman, Rain, but some punk had come along and ripped open Rain’s package, so Lo Pan it was. The Big Trouble In Little China figurines are part of Funko’s ReAction line, which takes licenses from late ’70s and ’80s movies to make toys in the style of others from that era. Their relative crudity is both nostalgic and a means of keeping costs down, allowing some easily distracted dope waiting to buy a Joe Abercrombie book the justification for picking one up on a whim. Much to my daughter’s profound annoyance, I haven’t taken Lo Pan out of his packaging yet. I swear I’m not keeping him in there out of some Comic Book Guy-style fussiness. It’s just that the figures come packaged against a really rad looking card of the movies poster. Also, I know the second I open it, I’m going to lose the little floating eyeball demon that came with. [Nick Wanserski]

Exploding Kittens card game

Parenting in a screen-filled world means that you’re usually on the lookout for anything that might distract the kids long enough to actually interact with you old-school, like board games and card games. We’ve had a lot of luck in my house with classic standbys like Monopoly, Sorry, and Uno. But our latest favorite game is definitely new-school: Exploding Kittens (“a game for people who love kittens and explosions”). It’s a simple enough card game that features the aforementioned kittens, with cards displaying cats in a variety of guises, like Beardcat, Catermelon, and Tacocat (who helpfully announces, “I’m a palindrome!”). There’s also a deadly bomb card, a diffuse card, and various action cards to help you not pick up the bomb card—like “See The Future,” which lets you peek at the deck three cards ahead. The game is quick but exciting, making it perfect for a few rounds between dinner and bedtime, and the kittens are surreal enough to fascinate even the screen-savviest of today’s children. And even though the box makes a “meow” sound when you open it, no chargers are needed. [Gwen Ihnat]


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