Experience survival horror like never before in the 8th major installment in the Resident Evil franchise – Resident Evil Village. With detailed graphics, intense first-person action and masterful storytelling, the terror has never felt more realistic.
Reviewed on: PS5
Also available for: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox X|S, PC
Cast: Todd Soley, Katie O’Hagan, Jeff Schine, Michelle Lukes, Neil Newbon, Jesse Pimentel, Paula Rose, Maggie Robertson, Aaron LaPlante
Director: Morimasa Sato
Art Director: Tomonori Takano
Lead Game Designer: Isamu Hara
Lead Level Designer: Toshihiko Tsuda
In 2017 Capcom threw the Resident Evil playbook out the door and delivered Resident Evil 7. For the most part, that game is entirely void of any connections to the RE-Verse at large. It rebirthed the franchise and hooked in countless new horror fans, but where Capcom would go next, no one could have seen coming.
Ethan Winters is back, and he’s in even more trouble than the Baker House delivered him in RE7. After Chris Redfield shoots Ethan’s wife Mia and steals his newborn daughter, he delivers Ethan to a remote European village, things quickly go from bad to terrible. Werewolves are on the loose in the village; zombies are crawling between the grounds, and vampires rule the castle on the hill. It’s a horror smorgasbord of everything that likes to bite. Somewhere, however, Ethan’s daughter is out there waiting to be saved.
Like RE7, you’ll be playing through RE: Village in first-person through the eyes of the rather humdrum protagonist Ethan Winters. Here the drive to save his child is notably more interesting than his mission to save his missing wife, Mia, in the previous game. Much like RE7, the first-person view putting you right into the action helps alleviate the lack of an interesting protagonist.
Resident Evil Village contains five notable areas that each tap into a different playstyle or horror theme. The village grounds where you begin the game are being tossed and terrorized by werewolves, which reminded me most of Resident Evil 4. There’s a high level of combat in the game’s first hour, but you’re constantly on the edge of your seat with barely enough bullets to survive any encounter.
Ethan’s destination is the gothic romance awaiting him on the hillside in the form of Castle Dimitrescu, home to Alcina Dimitrescu and her three daughters. They have all been featured as an integral and essential part of Resident Evil Village’s promotional campaign; I’m sure you’ve seen them. Alcina is a 9ft 6in vampire lady and scary as hell — kind of hard to miss her. As an unwanted visitor in her castle, Lady Dimitrescu doesn’t take too kindly to Ethan as he begins fighting with her daughters. If you loved the fear of Jack Baker following you throughout the Baker home in RE7, having a 9ft vampire lady call you a “man-thing” while chasing you with her razor-sharp tendrils is going to be right up your alley.
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the villains in Resident Evil Village as the marketing hasn’t gone into much detail other than Lady Dimitrescu. However, I will note that I loved exploring the castle and wished its position within the game had been left until later.
Resident Evil Village keeps things fresh with each new area you visit, and there’s a nice pace to the game. You’ll go from not wanting to open the door to being thrust into a mini-boss fight before having some downtime and story moments to process. The area after Castle Dimitrescu was one of my favourites as it features no combat at all and instead sends you into a haunted house of creepy dolls, haunting sounds and puzzles to solve.
Much like RE7, the later hours of Resident Evil Village’s 10-12 hour campaign becomes more action-heavy. I wasn’t a big fan of RE7’s last level, but the heavy combat sequences in the final hours of Village manage to keep a sense of fear within you because of just how formidable and brutal these particular enemies can be. The corridor-shooter sensation that RE7 delivered is absent here, even if you have seemingly more guns at your disposal. These enemies require a strict strategy and precise shooting to take them down or they’ll tear you to bits in seconds.
Talking about guns, unlike RE7, you’re not entirely alone on your journey this time. The Duke pops up at various locations during your trip and is happy to take your hard-earned money (dropped by enemies, or found in chest etc.) for ammo, health items or weapon upgrades. You can also buy upgrades for any of the weapons you’ve unlocked to increase their damage, ammo capacity and handling. The Duke is an enigma of a character, but I was happy to see him and know his location was a safe room from chasing foes.
If you love The Duke, you can head on over to the Mercenaries mode, which you can unlock after beating the game. It’s the same as in previous games, but in first-person now. Load up on items from The Duke, kill enemies and chain them to keep a combo going, chase a high score.
Playing on PS5, the European horror-land of Resident Evil Village is a performance showcase. The game’s default setting leaves ray-tracing enabled and will hit a minimum of 45FPS (so the devs say), although it seemed to sit in the 60fps area for the most part. It’s well worth leaving the ray-tracing on for regions like the castle as blood glistens off the marble floors in ways you haven’t seen before. The game only seemed to drop in frames for me in extensive open areas with a lot going on, but you’re in smaller, secluded locations for the most part.