Platforms: Xbox Series X (Reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $59.99 USD – Available Here $109.95 AUD – Available Here
Throughout its long history, the Resident Evil series has continued to transform itself. After originally beginning with fixed cameras and plenty of horror mixed with a bit of camp, Resident Evil 4 saw the shift to an over-the-shoulder more action based take on the series that continued to grow in scale with each new entry before Capcom took perhaps the biggest change the series saw so far four years ago with Resident Evil 7: biohazard focusing almost entirely on horror and bringing players right into the action in a first-person perspective. Now with Resident Evil Village Capcom is once again taking a bit of a different approach as the company has now chosen to blend these elements together. With solid levels of horror in a first-person perspective combined with some of the camp that the original entries in the series were known for and more action than before, is this a worthwhile entry in this ever changing series?
In an attempt to keep players as up to date as possible, Resident Evil Village begins with an offer to recap all of the terrifying events that happened to the Winters family at the Baker Estate in Louisiana. Three years have passed since those horrific events and Ethan and Mia have moved across the sea to Europe to restart their lives with their brand new daughter Rose. While Ethan does continue to struggle with his memories of the past things have appeared to settle down. That is until one night when Mia is suddenly and brutally shot by Chris and his team who then abduct both Ethan and Rose. If things weren’t bad enough, Ethan wakes up soon after only to find that the vehicle that was transporting them has been attacked and Rose is once again missing.
It doesn’t take long before things begin to feel oddly familiar as Ethan stumbles through the snow, encountering carcasses of animals and strange creatures moving through the brush as the appearance of a gorgeous and mysterious village comes into view, dominated by a towering castle. Within minutes Ethan finds that this village is far from normal as werewolves, or lycans, have slaughtered nearly everyone and with Ethan being fresh meat, it quickly becomes a do or die situation as waves of lycans hunt him down in what serves as a fast paced introduction to a game that takes these shots of adrenaline and embraces them by constantly throwing something new at the player.
While Capcom quickly pushed Lady Dimitrescu to the forefront of Resident Evil Village’s marketing, there is far more to the game than this giant vampire woman and her three sadistic daughters. In fact, players will find that every boss character serves as a strong antagonist to Ethan in one way or another, bringing their own unique challenges. Each of the villains that Ethan has to deal with is separated into their own unique area and often new mechanics and this unfortunately does lead to some ups and downs in quality. While the castle sequence serves as a strong start, the second zone follows up with plenty of puzzles and horror that doesn’t really hold up through subsequent playthroughs. Along these same lines the third zone is the weakest as a whole while the fourth area, while incredibly unique and features some of the best narrative outside of the first and final parts of the game, drags on far too long to the point that even Ethan remarks at its length.
Anyone familiar with the Resident Evil franchise as a whole will know that this may sound extremely reminiscent of certain events that happened right near the beginning of Resident Evil 4 and this happens to be only the tip of the iceberg as there are numerous easter eggs and references that fans will immediately pick up on, especially if they are big on the series’ lore. That being said, while these easter eggs and references to past titles are great, it is worth noting that outside of obviously connecting to Resident Evil 7: biohazard, most of the game’s connections to the overall lore as a whole feels minimal at best when compared to how great the story of Ethan and the four lords is as a whole. While it may explain certain elements that have yet to be revealed in previous games, players will still be left with more questions than answers especially once everything is said and done.
In many ways Resident Evil Village handles similar to Resident Evil 7 as players will still find themselves using the same first-person perspective to look around, aim their weapons, and interact with the world. Players will find that they can still block incoming attacks from most enemies and negate a solid amount of damage all while having to manage an inventory system similar to that of Resident Evil 4‘s attache case. Crafting healing items as well as various types of ammunition and explosives return as well though players will no longer have to worry about managing their supply space as it is kept in a separate inventory.
Combat in Resident Evil Village varies quite a bit depending on what difficulty players choose to start with as Normal is a bit on the easy side for those who spend plenty of time searching through the world while Hardcore sees enemies act far more aggressively and duck out of the way of Ethan’s bullets more often. This enemy intelligence carries over to Normal as well, though they play more cautiously and give players a bit more of a chance to either back up or run as the lycans and other creatures that Ethan will come up against can take quite a beating, at least for the first half of the game and until players begin to beef up both their equipment and Ethan himself with the help of a certain merchant named Duke.
On Ethan’s journey to find his daughter the mysterious Duke will appear throughout the game and will offer a variety of items for purchase, upgrades for Ethan’s weapons, and even the ability to cook food that will permanently boost Ethan’s health, blocking ability, and running speed using meat obtained from hunting animals in the wild. The Duke’s upgrades are reasonably priced, especially if the player is scrounging through the world and uncovering every secret treasure that can be sold for money. If worse comes to worse, players can even purchase ammunition and healing items in limited amounts though these can end up being a bit pricey in the end so players are best served either saving for big upgrades, increasing inventory size, or buying a new weapon that may appear in the shop at some point.
As mentioned before, Resident Evil Village likes to shake things up and that is certainly the case when it comes to offering challenges for players. While certain areas of the game feature enemies that can be flat out shot and defeated, others rely heavily on puzzle solving skills and navigating spooky locations, or enemies with only limited weakpoints for damage. This style of gameplay keeps players on their toes as they progress as they never quite know what will happen next in the game and even then, not all of this variety has to come in the form of progress. Some great battles and events can come from going off the beaten path and tackling some of the side areas that Resident Evil Village has to offer, usually rewarding players with either a powerful weapon or money as a result.
Outside of the core game Resident Evil Village sees the return of The Mercenaries mode, which is unlockable after beating the story one time. This fast paced arcade style shooting gallery pits players against numerous enemies and a ticking clock with the aim being to get the best score possible. This mode is a great little distraction that let’s players test their skills and challenge foes in new and interesting areas once again with a variety of stages to play through. It is also worth noting that, once players beat the game, a number of unlockable weapons can be obtained as well, giving players extra incentive to run through the story again, perhaps on a harder difficulty.
Visuals & Audio
From the onset the RE Engine continues to prove that it can allow Capcom to create some of the best looking games out there as Resident Evil Village is an absolute visual wonder. The character models are varied and gorgeous on the characters and enemies, especially bosses, and the environments themselves are incredibly varied and highly atmospheric in nature. The level of detail in some locations can be quite extreme with, once again, the castle and fourth location taking the cake easily as some of the most detailed areas. It is interesting to note that the title also runs completely fine without any dips in quality even with Ray Tracing turned on and even though there are a few locations that may appear to be hiding loading screens in the form of elevators, these are minimal at best.
When it comes to horror, especially atmospheric horror, Capcom has it nailed down to the letter. Players will be traveling through a location only to hear shuffling or roaring in the distance, knowing that there is a threat ahead or nearby. The musical score, which is quite stellar and features a great theme song once again, swells during combat and adds some great tension to many of the more dire moments in Ethan’s journey.
Resident Evil Village finds a great balance between action and horror by blending together the first-person perspective and creepy atmospheric locations players must venture through and puzzles they need to solve with horrific oft fast moving monsters that they have to defeat in order to advance all while bringing in some of the franchises’ classic campy horror elements at the same time. While there are some lower quality moments spread throughout and its connection to the greater story is a bit thin in places, Resident Evil Village is a great entry in the series and one that will delight both action fans and horror fans all with plenty of replay value.
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