To say that I wasn’t a huge fan of Resident Evil 7 is a bit of an understatement. While giving that game a 2.5 out of 5 stars, I just couldn’t get behind the adventures of Ethan Winters as he tries to find Mia and face down the Baker Family. It was a great VR horror experience, but I just didn’t think it was worthy of the Resident Evil branding.
However, after spending some time with Resident Evil Village, or Resident Evil 8, I’m happy to say that CAPCOM has tried to at least listen to some of the grievances that players had with Resident Evil 7, and made some very interesting and good changes to the overall experience.
Name: Resident Evil Village
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Stadia, PC
Game Type: Survival horror
Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer
Release Date: May 7, 2021
Chris!? But why?…
Resident Evil Village sees you back into the role of Ethan Winters, continuing 3 years after the events of Resident Evil 7. For those of you who are unfamiliar with those events, you can view a recap of the events of Resident Evil 7 as told by Ethan, as well as reading the 80 page “Baker Family Incident Report” in the Bonuses section. The events of the Resident Evil Village, on the other hand, sees Ethan, and his new daughter, Rose, getting kidnapped by Chris Redfield, only for the transport to be derailed, leading Ethan and Rose into the hands of Mother Miranda and her group of Lords and Ladies that inhabit the unnamed village. It’s from here that Resident Evil Village begins to show its usual, or more-so unusual, weird storytelling with enough twists and turns to keep both old and new fans interested.
Each section of Resident Evil Village will take you through four very different locations. Of course, we all know about the Village area and Lady Alcina “Tall Lady with the big mommy milkers” Dimitrescu and her vampire daughters, all who live in the Castle, and we’ve seen glimpses of Karl Heisenberg (yay for the correct European spelling of Karl) and his werewolf followers, but we also have House Beneviento, a mansion controlled by the weirdly Psycho Mantis-like Donna Beneviento and her puppet, Angie, and finally, the lake area that is controlled by Salvatore Moreau. We also can’t forget Mother Miranda, the leader of the whole bunch, who may have some connection to past characters in the Resident Evil universe.
Mmmmm… man flesh
To say that Resident Evil Village isn’t a great-looking game is a bit of a “no duh” moment by now. The RE Engine that powers Resident Evil Village is an amazing tool, and thanks to the improvements that can take place with the engine working with the PlayStation 5 really pushes the engine to its limits in a good way. The way that the RE Engine has been used in conjunction with the Ray-Tracing abilities of the PlayStation 5 shows everything that you wanted to see, and some things you don’t want to see. The lighting in Resident Evil Village comes out in a real showstopper fashion here, with shadows moving and being almost too good when something passes by a window, torch, or another lighting medium. Even on the enemies, you can see the interplay of light and shadow as these beings move about in their weird ways.
Speaking on the graphics, while the lighting has come a long way over a hardware generation, there are still little things here and there that really take you out of the experience. Resident Evil Village does sometimes have clipping issues, especially in the opening of the game, and there are some art designs that really break immersion when they happen. For example, a holdover from Resident Evil 7 is the healing mechanic, which heals cuts, limbs, and CLOTHING, complete with stitches on the clothing from a liquid!
I’ll hunt you down Ethan!
Resident Evil Village takes a lot from another Resident Evil game that I’m none too fond of, Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil Village sees the introduction of “The Duke”, a large, rotund lad who is a shopkeeper (And a friend of the Resident Evil 4 Merchant character) that you will encounter throughout Resident Evil Village. The Duke will allow you to purchase items, sell items to him, and upgrade your weapons, another Resident Evil 4 holdout that I was not happy to see make a return. We already have some items that upgrade the weapons in Resident Evil Village, so why do we need arbitrary skill point upgrade systems on top of that? Laziness, that’s why, and a need to cater to the outcry of people who wanted a more Resident Evil 4 experience… Whoever those jokers are.
You might notice while playing Resident Evil Village that there is a bit more freedom when it comes to guns. Resident Evil Village tends to give you more than enough ways to either craft your way into a lot of ammo or find a huge stockpile of it all over the place. There is barely a room, hallway, or dungeon jail cell where you won’t find some sort of vase, box, or barrel that you can hit open to find some handgun or shotgun bullets in, not to mention all the piles of scrap all over the place that you can use to create ammo (or healing items) with. If you are the crafting type, Resident Evil Village‘s crafting system is quite easy to use, same with the management system, which comes right out of… Ugh… Resident Evil 4.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the controls for Resident Evil Village. A lot of the control scheme comes from Resident Evil 7 but with a lot more precision and tension thanks to the tight controls that the PlayStation 5 controller gives. The feedback pressure on the R2/L2 triggers, for example, is very tight and makes you feel the real pressure that is needed to fire a real-life firearm. The other change is the blocking system, which allows you to take a little damage off the strike you might endue, but as a long-term Resident Evil player, I found the old distance strategy to work just as well here, but it was nice to have to option in some tight places.
For a majority of Resident Evil Village, you will be doing pretty much the same thing that you have done in many other Resident Evil games to date, meaning you will be going from room to room, checking everything in sight for a key, item, or random object that will progress the story further. Sometimes you will have to do puzzles too, with some ranging from statue moving to finding statue heads to move to another location, to some interesting movement-based ball puzzles that are really fun. Some of these puzzles can be a pain though, with some requiring either amazing vision or a photographic memory of past locations you visited just to find where this one weird piece goes… ARGH!
But we cannot discount the enemies in Resident Evil Village either. With each of the four Lords/Ladies having their own enemy types specifically designed for their own area, you will be mowing some interesting through basic designed creatures down. Then you have the more complex characters, like Lady Dimitrescu’s three daughters, who need to be baited into fresh air/light to be killed, and of course, you have the boss characters who will either hunt you down through a level or just take you on in some creative boss battles. There are also traps to be had too, with some of the more interesting ones either needing blind luck or a good eye to spot a way to get out of.
A lovely melody
The sound in Resident Evil Village is really well done, with the soundtrack playing low enough that it isn’t distracting at all. The real winner here is the sound design when it comes to things like Lady Dimitrescu chasing you through her castle, the thumping of her footsteps getting louder, or changing direction at a moment’s notice is just amazing to hear. The same goes for her three daughters, who are made up from some buzzing flies, which you can hear swarm all around you even through a normal TV speak system. Outside of that, Resident Evil Village has one of those soundtracks that would go right along with a murder mystery night.
Wanna play again?
If there is one place where Resident Evil Village falls flat, it’s in its replay value. Unfortunately, Resident Evil Village is pretty much a “one and done” type of game, with nothing really changing with exception of the difficulty, which ramps up hard in the hardcore and Village of Shadows modes. With hardcore, you might survive 2-3 hits before death, but with Village of Shadows, it’s “one and you’re done, son”. While I’m sure there is something to be said for people who really like to make their way through everything and dig deep for lore and items, or even try to find a way to speedrun things, there is going to be something that will bring some people back.
There is also a Mercenaries Mode that makes a return here, where you hunt down enemies in a location and get upgrades via The Duke between rounds, but unfortunately, I was unable to get a real go with it before getting this review written, as it unlocks once the game is complete, and I’m still playing at the time of writing. However, I’m not a fan of this mode anyway, so I’m happy to just leave it be in the corner with the other uninteresting section, the bonus section. If you like seeing concept art or replaying videos, then you’ll enjoy the bonus section, but these days a bonus section feels unneeded unless you’re a hardcore fan who wants to make behind-the-scene videos or something like that.
Look, overall, Resident Evil Village is not a bad game. In fact, it’s a great improvement over Resident Evil 7 with its changes to both gameplay and story. However, it is had to shake the feeling that CAPCOM has tried a bit too hard to please some of the long-term players in a way that feels wrong and off-putting. Resident Evil Village plays really well and the twists are amazing to see, but taking A LOT from Resident Evil 4 just feels like a step in the wrong direction. But we shall see where CAPCOM decides to go from here in about another 3-4 years’ time if they want to make this storyline into Resident Evil 9.
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Resident Evil Village is a great entry into the otherwise weird third trilogy of the Resident Evil franchise. Taking a lot of what made Resident Evil 7 work as a great horror experience and adding to it with things that people enjoyed about Resident Evil 4. However, Resident Evil Village does feel like by adding things from Resident Evil 4, that CAPCOM is about to remake some mistakes of old.
- Added good things from Resident Evil 4, like the inventory system.
- Still is creepy as hell in its locations and enemy types.
- Puzzles involve more than just moving things around.
- Amazing lighting and graphics that make you proud to own a PlayStation 5.
- Actually made me think positively about Resident Evil 4.
- Adding bad things from Resident Evil 4, like the more action focus, and weapon skill upgrades.
- Some areas feel too maze-like and get you confused easily.