Capcom has constantly reinvented the wheel with Resident Evil. Through main story entries, spin-offs, online shooters, and episodic adventures, RE has taken many forms. Not all have been welcomed, but it felt as though Capcom nailed it once again with Resident Evil 7. It reimagined what survival horror was by using a first-person perspective. Dark constricted corridors, intricately woven puzzles, strict item management, and a foreboding fear throughout, all whilst seeing the horror unfold through your own eyes. With Resident Evil Village, Ethan’s story continues, and so does the evolution of the series. It’s great, people. It’s really great.
Resident Evil Village: Ethan’s story continues
It’s been a few years since the tragedy at the Baker estate. In that time, Mia and Ethan have had a child together. They’ve moved away from America and are now raising their baby Rose in a secluded spot in Eastern Europe. All is good in the world. Well, for about five minutes at least. As Mia and Ethan are chatting in their lovely new home, Chris Redfield bursts in and guns Mia down. WTF, as the kids say. After being carried away by the BSAA, Ethan and Mia’s transport is attacked, leaving our protagonist to uncover a much wider plot that involves werewolves, more experiments, and a mysterious woman known as Miranda.
Much of the buzz has been around Lady Dimitrescu and her creepy af daughters. Yes, they play a role in Village, but it goes so far beyond that. In fact, the tall, big bosomed vampire is part of a council that has been experimenting on the villagers for reasons I shall not divulge. After escaping the Dimitrescu Mansion, the game opens up (as does the map), and Ethan ventures to various locations in an effort to save his daughter, battling a whole load of monsters that include werewolves, the aforementioned vampires, a mutated fish monster, a deformed giant baby, and so much more.
Gunfights and explosions aplenty
Whereas RE7 felt more restricted in its combat (at least until the final chapter), there is a lot of shooting this time around. There’s no denying you’ll be tearing through your munitions like a boss. Village offers plenty of weapons to be found or purchased throughout, but the option to upgrade weapons is more beneficial. Duke, the flabby and rather pale merchant pops up all over the place, and by collecting Lei (the currency) from downed enemies or selling valuable items, you’ll gradually be able to improve a weapon’s power, recoil, ammo capacity and more. Ammo can be purchased, as well as new parts for weapons that improve their performance. Duke is a useful ally who always has new stuff to buy, and there’s even an option to get food recipes by killing chickens, pigs, and fish.
Village has built upon the limited crafting in RE7 to provide more ways to acquire medical supplies, ammo, bombs, and mines. Every enemy will drop something, and most of the time it’s a crafting resource. You can buy new recipes to craft things like mines and sniper ammo from Duke. As long as you find enough materials, there’s plenty of opportunities to bolster your stock. Enemies will also drop Lei and ammo, with bosses or bigger enemies dropping valuable items. There’s never a fear of running out of something, and it helps to make Village a better experience for it. It’s a necessary feature, especially as there are times when you’re facing a fair few enemies. In that respect, it is so reminiscent of Resident Evil 4.
Whilst there is more combat in Resident Evil Village, it has its fair share of puzzles. Some of them are excellent. There are various clues through text or in paintings, so the answer is always hidden somewhere. In true Resi fashion, there are doors that cannot be opened straight away. Every area, be it the village, the catacombs, or the factory, an intricately designed labyrinth is ripe for exploration. Key items you find are no longer tied to your storage, so there’s no worry of having to store them or move them around to necessitate something new.
It is little alterations to the mechanics like this that make it more player friendly than it has been before. Another example is skippable cutscenes. Gone are the days of watching an entire monologue before attempting another boss fight. These changes make Village more enjoyable. Whilst they make things easier, the difficulty itself still poses a challenge. In RE7, I died far more times than I should, but the balance in Village is much better. Enemies take a fair amount of bullets to put down, but you always have the tools to do so.
Resident Evil Village: Breath-taking visuals
On PS5, Resident Evil Village looks unbelievable. You’ll visit plenty of places in and around the village, all blindingly beautiful. There is tons of blood and gore, but regardless of the grotesque nightmare you find yourself in, it is hard not to be blown away. The art deco style of Dimitrescu Mansion; the mechanical framework of the factory; the eerie village covered in snow and muck; the dank, damp, and dirty dungeons. Everything treats the eyes to a visual spectacle. The character animations are superb as well, from Ethan and Mia to other villains of the story. It is clear a lot of time and effort has been put in to making Village look the best it can be.
Resident Evil Village encapsulates the survival elements whilst opening up the playing field. Yes, there are still claustrophobic and fear-inducing moments, but it balances these with the heavier combat scenarios. In terms of environments, RE7 feels a lot smaller in comparison. I’m not sure anyone is prepared for the scope on offer in Village, and that is a good thing. Whilst it’s still a relatively short game (I finished the main campaign in 8 hrs 30 minutes), the journey you go on feels like one of the biggest yet.
Balancing the past, present, and future
Without ruining anything, there are elements of the story that people might not be happy with. For much of Village, the overarching story is absent, relying on building the characters of Miranda and her council of psychopaths. Towards the end, everything starts to ramp up. Ties to the series come in to play, and a lot of what you find out will bring a flutter to your fast-beating heart. Although there’re some fantastic moments in regards to Ethan and Mia’s next chapter, I was a bit disappointed with a couple of omissions, as well as how Capcom are relying to much on Resident Evil’s history instead of looking to the future. Still, Village is one hell of a joyride, and some of the encounters are staggering.
Resident Evil Village has managed to keep a series that has been going for 25 years feel new. Few other games could do what Capcom has done here. There are some truly stylish segments that come into play as soon as the opening cutscene plays out, and they never stop. Every step of Village was enjoyable. The combat is satisfying, the puzzles are well-orchestrated, and it looks fucking incredible. As a fan since the beginning, I adored Village. It embodies everything the series is known for as well as evolving in a fresh and exciting way. It’s amazing really. Going from third-person to first and still retaining what made the series so special is an admirable feat. If you were excited for Village, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Combat is satisfying
Great balance of puzzles and action
Nice quality of life improvements
Story might not appeal to long-time fans