Resident Evil Village
Genre(s): Survival Horror
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 7/5/21
A code was provided for review purposes
Resident Evil Village is finally here in the series’ 8th incarnation. The formula has matured since the days of tank controls. Yet survival horror, is a genre that was defined by Capcom 25 years ago and refined ever since, offering an experience imitated by many and replicated by none.
There is a risk that this genre of game can be limited to a specific audience. Some love the thrill and excitement of jump scares, others not so much. In my time leading up to reviewing Resident Evil: Village, at least 50% of my friends I’ve surveyed when asked said Resident Evil games just aren’t for them and the horror is just too much.
Making a Change
This time around it feels like Capcom have given this some thought and I’m here to report, Village just isn’t as scary as previous titles. Especially our time with the Bakers in Resident Evil 7.
I think this construct was intentional by the developer. If more players work their way through Village, roll the end credits on the game and then tell their friends, “that wasn’t too scary” more people will play the game. I don’t think curiosity has ever been an issue when it comes to attracting new players to the series.
I hasten to add, there is one section which is just horrific. You’ll know it when you play it.
Where Do We Start?
So the game in question picks up a few years after the events of Resident Evil 7, with an optional video recap to bring you up to speed (it is semi spoilery, so if you haven’t played Resident Evil 7 I’d recommend you give that a whirl first).
Playing as Ethan Winters, alongside your wife Mia, you are finally settling down and living a peaceful existence somewhere in Europe. Yet all is not as it seems and Ethan’s world quickly spirals into darkness once again.
With multiple locations to explore, the beating heart of the game takes place in “The Village”. A living and breathing visceral landscape of Brothers Grimm like darkness. As the player explores and begins to uncover the truth behind what has taken place here in and around the village, more of this world begins to open up to the player.
The character modelling, voice casting (with the exception of Mia, who is just as annoying as in the previous game), darkly gothic design and art styling are incredible. I have never seen so many shades of grey and black and this goth-like colour palette is simply stunning.
Graphically the game is wonderfully detailed and shows RE Engine at its very best. Performance is exceptional, frame-rates steady throughout, zero load screens and intricate details on show everywhere. This game showcases the next generation of consoles at a whole new level, it’s frankly breathtaking.
Resident Evil Village, in its first person guise, quickly immerses the player into its luscious environment. Whistling wind blowing through the trees, the howling of the lycan and hauntingly mysterious cackles. The sound is endlessly deceiving the whole time.
The game draws so much inspiration from Resident Evil 4, albeit with less roundhouse kicks. Right down to the merchant which sees an incarnation as the amazingly casted Duke. As well as the mold induced community that surrounds this environment.
Inspiration with Innovation
Certainly not a bad thing, with Resident Evil 4 arguably the most heralded game in the series, this blend of nostalgia with new open world concepts is well suited and a joy to play.
Resident Evil Village has layers; from its closed and limiting mansion-like opening, to open world exploration later on. The game is coupled with some of the finest Resident Evil puzzles I’ve ever witnessed, and the developer has squeezed an awful lot of game into a rather humble 8-12 hour play-through. It may feel short but boy is it satisfying, and when the credits roll, it won’t matter.
A Game of Two Halves
This layered approach to the game does come at a cost. Quite simply the first half of the game absolutely cannot hold up to the amazing second half. It’s starkly different and almost feels like two completely different games. For the first time, I think ever, I changed my review score by a fair margin based on this shift of narrative. The extended cast of characters you find along the way are super intriguing.
The Lady Dimitrescu famed in all the promo material and demos plays her part similar to the Mr X and Tyrant of Resident Evils of the past. Running away until there’s some distance between you will normally do the trick, just stay away from the Freddy Krueger claws.
1, 2 Dimitrescu’s Coming for You
Other characters are vastly different and will require you to utilise all of your expertise built and the environments and scenery along this journey to ensure you come out the victor.
The in-game mechanics are seamless, with a generously simple learning curve. Controls are simple and memorised in seconds and with weapon shortcuts on offer this is a well executed control mechanism. Scavenging for gems, crystal hearts, goblets and goodies quickly earns you items, unlocks and weapon enhancements with Duke.
This is all quite lucky really as when you take control of poor Ethan, he really does go through the mill in this game. Limbs are sliced off left, right and centre, yet still he pushes on with his mission.
The Next Generation of Gaming Has Arrived
Resident Evil Village is the real deal, and arguably the first real showpiece for what’s to come in this new generation of gaming.
It’s a complete package that takes the player on a whirlwind journey of sacrifice, persistence and resilience. It’s more accessible for the widest of audiences than any Resident Evil game yet, and in my eyes it’s better for it!
Although shorter than many would hope for, there is plenty to replay here, whether you wish to play Mercenaries or play back through the story to unlock the treasures and side questions you may have missed first time around. This story runs deep and I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone old enough to play. Just make sure you stick around after the credits roll.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can purchase Resident Evil Village for PS5 here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.