The Resident Evil collection is in a captivating place proper now.
On the one hand, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard made the daring transfer in the direction of the first-person perspective, drastically shaking up the basic survival horror franchise. But on the identical time, the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 in recent times targeted on the normal third-person gameplay the collection is most recognized for.
With all of that in thoughts, the most recent RE recreation, Resident Evil Village, goals to supply the most effective of each worlds in terms of these totally different types of video games.
In specific, Capcom has been clear in regards to the want to make Village really feel just like the youngster of each RE4 and RE7. The finish result’s a wildly experimental Resident Evil that’s often uneven, however total glorious entry to the enduring Capcom collection.
A extra private story
Village picks up three years after the occasions of RE7, with Ethan Winters, the earlier recreation’s protagonist, having lastly settled down together with his spouse Mia and child Rose. However, his peaceable home life is ruined when long-running Resident Evil hero Chris Redfield inexplicably arrives to kill Mia and kidnap Ethan and Rose. After awakening in a snowy European village, Ethan should find his daughter whereas surviving the 4 lethal lords who rule the land, in addition to the mysterious Mother Miranda whom all of them serve.
While Ethan is way from a deep character in Village, the choice to focus the sport round his unrelenting pursuit of his daughter helps you get invested in his journey, particularly for a personality who was — albeit intentionally — portrayed as a comparatively impassive clean slate for the participant in RE7. It additionally helps that Ethan is way extra talkative this time round — in an endearingly goofy approach that’s paying homage to RE4‘s Leon, no much less.
Beyond that, the broader intertwining tales of the 4 lords — Lady Dimitrescu, the web’s favorite vampire; cloaked dollmaker Donna Beneviento; grotesque merman Salvatore Moreau and magnetically-powered engineer Karl Heisenberg — and the unraveling of Chris’ mysterious mission make sure that Village‘s narrative stays persistently entertaining.
Just a few late-game plot twists may show divisive amongst some longtime RE followers, however I relished of their ludicrousness and the way they culminated in a surprisingly thrilling conclusion.
Far extra than simply an homage
Village‘s story is all well and good, but it’s the sport’s construction that basically makes it stand out.
Capcom has used the sport’s titular village as a hub of kinds by way of which you go to the lords’ drastically totally different areas. Those preferring RE video games to be targeted extra on a singular setting may take problem with this method, however I adored how contemporary this method made Village really feel.
That’s to not say Village is totally absent of this, although — removed from it. The recreation’s eponymous township takes the feel and appear of RE4‘s glorious introductory village location and makes it much more expansive, dense and detailed. As you purchase extra objects, you possibly can return to the village to entry different areas, every of which carries its personal share of wealthy environmental storytelling and every kind of worthwhile loot.
Exploring the village is an absolute delight, particularly because of the recreation’s stellar manufacturing values. On PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, Village runs at a beautiful 4K/60fps, whereas the unbelievable sound design — made much more chillingly efficient with the PS5’s 3D Audio (supported headphones required) — encourages you to always go searching to find the supply of no matter eerie noise you simply heard.
Often, these are Lycan (werewolf), which preserve you in your toes with their viciousness and agility. The totally different types these Lycan take are terrifying, main them to shortly change into a few of my favorite monsters within the RE collection to this point. In normal, Village has excellent enemy selection — a welcome enchancment over RE7 — that features the gargoyle-esque Samca, the shambling and cloaked Moroaică and weird mechanically augmented corpses.
The village can also be nicely value exploring to accumulate new weapons and sources, just like the ever-reliable Wolfsbane Magnum. As a pleasant contact, one in every of Village‘s core gameplay loops is lifted straight from RE4 — stock administration. Like RE4, Village omits an merchandise field, that means you need to use a satisfying Tetris-style sorting mechanic to rearrange your weapons and different objects to create space in your briefcase. Any treasures you discover could be bought to The Duke, a cryptic however jolly travelling service provider.
“…Village also isn’t afraid to boldly go in new directions, particularly with respect to story and structure.”
Village‘s ‘Lei’ forex system is appropriately well-balanced as to make sure that you all the time discover sufficient cash — or have sufficient treasures to promote — to change for a number of weapon upgrades, crafting recipes or different objects. I appreciated having to rigorously plan my spending, which made cash really feel appropriately invaluable because of this.
You can even hunt wild animals and switch their meat in for everlasting stat-increasing upgrades, however there are only some of those they usually actually don’t really feel wanted alongside Ethan’s spectacular and ever-growing arsenal. This speaks to one of many few points with Village: Ethan can really feel overpowered on ‘Standard’ problem. Even for those who don’t acquire extra weapons, the sport dishes out ammo and therapeutic objects at an everyday tempo, making the sport really feel a tad too simple until you crank it as much as ‘Hardcore.’
Come one, come all to the homes of horrors
The village is a elegant setting in and of itself, but it surely additionally successfully serves as connective tissue between the 4 lords’ respective territories. In the lead-up to Village‘s release, producer Tsuyoshi Kanda likened the game to a “theme park of horror,” and that proves to be a perfect descriptor. Each of Miranda’s minions provides a uniquely fascinating spin on a side of gothic horror, which persistently had me equal components excited and stuffed with suspense when exploring their respective domains.
The first main space, Lady Dimitrescu’s fort, is the one you’re probably most accustomed to, because it’s been the centrepiece of Village‘s marketing so far. Wisely, Capcom uses this setting to evoke the claustrophobic, labyrinthine feel of classic Resident Evil locations — think the original game’s Spencer Mansion and RE2‘s Raccoon City Police Department, with all of that backtracking and key item finding. All the while, Lady D and her three daughters can pop up at pretty much anytime to pursue you like Mr. X in 2019’s remake of RE2. It’s an excellent approach of blending the outdated and new of Resident Evil that had me always on edge as I explored the attractive and ornate fort.
But whereas Castle Dimitrescu is supposed to evoke the RE video games of outdated, Donna Beneviento’s home is not like any space ever seen within the franchise. To say an excessive amount of extra would wreck the shock, however suffice it to say that the dollmaker’s house is deeply unsettling and — in a pleasant twist — much more rooted in psychological horror à la P.T. than you’d anticipate. This additionally contrasts properly with Moreau’s reservoir, which slowly builds up in the direction of a monstrous encounter that hearkens again to a basic RE4 creature.
The solely space wherein Village falls a bit quick is in Heisenberg’s Frankensteinian manufacturing unit. While the deranged lord has maybe probably the most fleshed out and compelling backstory of all of the villains, his manufacturing unit is bland and repetitious. It’s under no circumstances unhealthy, it’s simply disappointing when in comparison with Village‘s in any other case engrossing and well-realized environments. Further, Mother Miranda by no means fairly lives as much as both the charisma of Dimitrescu and Heisenberg or the spookiness of Beneviento and Moreau.
One of the collection’ finest
Capcom has spent a substantial amount of time advertising and marketing Village as a non secular successor to Resident Evil 4, and whereas that’s definitely true in lots of regards, it’s additionally promoting the sport a bit quick.
To be certain, Village lovingly attracts from RE4‘s European setting, inventory management and certain enemy encounters, and it does so with aplomb. But Village also isn’t afraid to boldly go in new instructions, notably with respect to story and construction. My time with the likes of Lady Dimitrescu or Donna Beneviento couldn’t be extra totally different, but it surely’s due to their nuanced variations that Village proves to be so memorable.
It’s unclear precisely the place Resident Evil is perhaps headed from right here, however right here’s hoping future video games are as distinctive and thrilling as Village.
Resident Evil Village is now out there on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC and Google Stadia.
Note: Resident Evil Village contains free entry to Resident Evil Re:Verse, a six-versus-six multiplayer expertise that includes iconic heroes, villains and areas from the collection. However, Re:Verse was delayed till the summer season, so I haven’t been capable of play the total model of it.
That stated, Village options the long-awaited return of Mercenaries Mode, the collection’ common arcade-style minigame that has you killing as many enemies as potential inside a time restrict. Village’s Mercenaries feels totally different from different iterations because of the first-person perspective and some overhauled mechanics, making it fairly a pleasant bonus right here.