Resident Evil is in quite the gaming renaissance. 2017’s RE7 was a return to form, followed by enjoyable remakes of RE2 and RE3. I was quietly confident that Capcom has regained their mojo, but then I saw Resident Evil Village. Once again it’s using the first person perspective of 7 (yay), and it’s bringing back Ethan Winters (cool), but it’s clearly taking inspiration with regard to it’s aesthetic and mechanics from RE4 (big hmmm).
However! I’ve now played finished the story twice, and I can safely say that Resident Evil Village is another top entry in the franchise. Whilst RE3R helped me immensely with enjoying action in the RE setting, it’s also helped me clarify what I now want from a good RE game.
So what do I want? Historically I’ve based my love of the games on two things:
- Did I feel like I’d survived a horror
- Was it anything like the original
RE3R and RE8 have made me realise that my experience of each game actually splits into two parts.
Initially I want to be scared. I want to tip-toe into new areas and be careful with my items, all whilst hunting for the warm embrace of a save room. It’s a time to hopefully discover some more lore, and possibly need to change my pants a couple of times.
After that, all bets are off. I go casual, feeling that I’ve earnt the right to ignore the horror. I start to load up on items, move through the game a lot quicker, and enjoy some pew pew whilst taking on challenges. This is usually about blowing everything away and dispelling the initial fear found in the hopefully challenging initial play.
Resident Evil Village does the business the on both counts, providing me with a great game that includes not only perhaps the single most horrific section of the series, but also some time to go full ‘boom boom’.
Following on from Ethan Winters’ horrifying rescue of his wife Mia from the Baker family, things have settled. It’s been three years, and they have a little one, Rosemary. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll know that a certain Mr Redfield (definitely Chris, definitely looking like Chris, and definitely rocking an awesome coat and jumper) ruins your bliss. It’s all downhill from there, as Ethan once again steps up to figure out what the hell is going on.
Fortunately, in the intervening years, Ethan has had some military training, leading to one thing that is sure to rile some purists, and previously me – the amount of action. Whilst Village makes a conscious step way from the outright horror of 7, it still wears its influences on it’s sleeve. Particularly later on in the game, there’s a lot of action, but not in the overly bombastic (read, dumb) way it was presented in RE6. I found it fitting, and very welcome.
This is good point to mention that the handling of weapons is dealt with really well. The PS5 triggers feel different on each weapon, giving a tangible feel to the reload and rate of fire. The triggers load up on resistance when you can fire, making you acutely aware that…can’t…fire…just…yet. Lovely touch.
It’s not all action though. As I said earlier, one section in particular presents us with something that resembles a certain demo from 2014 – P.T. It’s got a definite RE slant to it, so it’s more a homage than anything, but it shakes things up and definitely fulfils any required quota of ‘horror’ you might need. Even on the second play, both my wife and I were not overly keen on what goes on. We definitely had to survive it.
A big part of what makes that, and the whole game, work is the sound design. Village looks fantastic, it loads quickly, and it plays well. But the sound design. Wow. I spent of time on the first play wearing headphones (Pulse 3D Wireless), and I honestly turned round to check behind and around me on multiple occasions. The overall effect adds a whole extra level of intimacy and ‘nope’ to the game.
I’m a big lover of lore, and Village adds in some important moments to the overall RE storyline. Some might say they’re rather crowbarred in, but I really don’t care. The further building up of Ethan and his world, and how he fits into the larger scheme, not only makes Village a worthwhile entry, but could improve future plays of RE7 as well. RE usually blindly charges on, with little regard to things making sense. But this might be the most tuned in and consistent the main story has been since Racoon City.
There’s a diverse set of characters, even down to the Duke, one of the most obvious callbacks to RE4. You could be on the internet for 5 minutes and see the obsession with Lady Dimitrescu, but Village isn’t just about her. Each of the main villains opens up a different aspect of the game, and even if the style they bring isn’t to your taste, they’re enjoyable to interact with. Without going too far into spoilers, I wish they came together more. But for now it’s a small niggle.
I really like Resident Evil Village. Figuring out where it goes in my ranked article will be interesting! My initial reticence quickly gave way to an experience that is easily one of the best I’ve had in the series. It ticks the boxes for both halves of my newly discovered criteria for enjoying an RE title. Between 7 and 8, Resident Evil has jumped into the first person style with a confidence and style that I hope it keeps up moving forward.
|Time Spent||9 hours on the first playthrough of the story. 7 hours on the second. 4 hours on Mercenaries.|
|Pros||+ Memorable characters|
+ How the story adds to RE lore
+ Good balance of scares and booms
|Cons||– Split into distinct areas|
|Overall||A strong entry into the franchise, RE confirms that Capcom know what they’re doing.|