Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One
Version Reviewed: PC
Resident Evil Village straddles the road between a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7 and a non secular successor to Resident Evil 4. This try and serve two masters proves to be each its strongest asset and biggest flaw. Brimming with concepts and boasting some distinctive set-pieces, it’s additionally an unfocused expertise that doesn’t at all times appear sure what sort of recreation it desires to be. The finish result’s that Village is lower than the sum of its components. But these components are nonetheless fairly well-crafted, so issues shake out pretty properly for Capcom.
Village continues the story of Ethan Winters, now residing at an undisclosed location in Europe together with his spouse Mia and child daughter Rose. After their ordeal on the Baker mansion, Ethan and Mia have constructed one thing resembling a traditional life. But it isn’t lengthy earlier than stated normality is shattered. Rose is kidnapped, whereas Ethan finally ends up stranded in a snowy wilderness. Lost and distraught, he makes his solution to a close-by village in the hunt for assist. What he finds as an alternative is just a few terrified holdouts of a neighborhood decimated by a cabal of highly effective monsters, all serving on the behest of the mysterious Mother Miranda.
Village’s preliminary hour is a transparent call-back to Resident Evil 4. Its first “chapter” sees Ethan scrambling by means of a cluster of dilapidated shacks, all sagging roofs, splintering timber and crumbling brickwork. As Ethan clambers by means of this maze of rubble and garbage and overturned carts, he’s hunted by the sport’s major new foe, snarling, aggressive werewolves identified in-game as Lycans. These musclebound beasts try and overwhelm Ethan, recalling Resi 4’s scintillating introduction. There’s even a scene the place Ethan can barricade himself in a home, shoving a bookshelf into the doorway whereas the Lycans attempt to claw their means by means of the home windows and the roof.
Yet the impression Village provides of being a contemporary Resi 4 quickly proves to be illusory. While there are references to 4 all through, as an alternative Village is a much more different expertise that by no means sits on one thought for lengthy. To rescue Rose, Ethan should observe down and defeat 4 of Mother Miranda’s “Children”. Each of those is a strong antagonist in their very own proper, lurking in a site that has its personal distinctive theme and, to a sure extent, play-style.
Village’s changeable nature turns into obvious at Castle Dimitrescu. Inside this sprawling gothic construction, Village leans a lot nearer towards Resident Evil 7, mixing environmental puzzling with the semi-dynamic prowling of the enormous Lady Alcina and her three vampiric daughters. Later on, Village dips its ft into Lovecraftian and industrial horror, as you discover ramshackle windmills sinking right into a lake, and an unlimited subterranean manufacturing facility the place a person often known as Heisenberg is alleged to carry out all method of unusual and horrible experiments.
This extremely changeable method lends Village a wonderful sense of tempo, whereas additionally making it onerous to foretell what precisely you’ll be confronted with subsequent. While I most well-liked the primary half of the sport over the second, there was no level within the proceedings the place I used to be ever bored. Each atmosphere can also be constructed to an astonishing degree of craft, which meant I used to be at all times eager to see what lay across the subsequent nook.
The draw back of this method is that Village struggles to construct up a lot mechanical steam. Given the success of VII, and the emphasis of the advertising and marketing on Lady Dimitrescu, I anticipated Village to construct extra on its idea of being dynamically hunted by the enemies you face. But this solely occurs in a single restricted a part of the sport (no prizes for guessing which) with the remaining reliant on largely scripted sequences.
Similarly, the broader scope of Village ends in much less intricate puzzling. Although you’ll commonly return to the central hamlet to unlock new buildings and purchase new objects, whereas there are elective “treasures” to retrieve that allow just a little side-exploration, there’s no actual puzzling concerned in any of this. It’s often apparent what key objects are for, and whereas the sport is cleverly structured to keep away from feeling linear, it does in reality funnel you thru its world in a really particular method.
What’s supposed to tie all the pieces collectively, in fact, is the fight. Yet regardless of a larger array of weapons and a rise in Ethan’s manoeuvrability, the fight is nothing like pretty much as good as Resi 4, and arguably much less compelling than VII, too. Despite their intimidating look, the Lycans are pretty straightforward to evade, whereas ammo is plentiful to the purpose the place its abundance dissipates numerous the strain. With the exception of 1 fight sequence towards the top, Village by no means approaches the intensely tactical crowd management of Resi 4.
This brings me onto one other level, specifically that Village is markedly much less scary than its predecessor. Aside from one brilliantly crafted sequence within the midgame which is genuinely terrifying, Village’s horror is pretty tame. Evading Lady Dimitrescu within the Castle is pleasing, however its giant open areas coupled with Ethan’s slicker motion makes her straightforward to keep away from. Meanwhile, the overall enemies don’t have anything on VII’s disgustingly creepy Molded. VII excelled at preying on instinctual fears, like darkness, claustrophobia, and having your head chopped off by an axe-wielding maniac. By comparability, VIII’s parade of vampires and werewolves is simply too acquainted to be really intimidating, and as such the horror is much less efficient.
All thought-about, Village is a weaker horror recreation than VII, and a weaker motion recreation than 4. That stated, it nonetheless gives an excellent time. The manufacturing values are off the size, not merely within the recreation’s spectacular visuals, however within the high quality of the appearing and characterisation. Village’s motley crew of monsters will not be as scary because the Bakers, however they’re fantastic adversaries nonetheless. Lady Dimitrescu has understandably garnered many of the consideration, however different opponents just like the calculating manufacturing facility proprietor Heisenberg, or the cackling animated doll often known as Angie, are all fantastically conceived and extremely acted. Even Ethan, whose character appears to comprise of worrying about his household and getting the shit kicked out of him, is enjoyably incredulous on the more and more absurd scenario he finds himself in.
Village is in the end a a lot safer recreation than I anticipated, one which casts its horror spores extensive within the hope of pleasing as many individuals as potential. The finish outcome shouldn’t be dangerous by any means – the craft with which it approaches all these concepts is admirable. But I can’t assist however really feel that, had it focussed extra intensely on one or two of those concepts, somewhat than attempting to do all of them, the outcome can be an excellent recreation, somewhat than merely an excellent one.