Resident Evil Village Review
Resident Evil 7 was indeed a head-turner back in 2017. Not only was it the first mainline title to adapt a completely first-person perspective, but it also featured a cast of new characters seemingly unrelated to the overall Resident Evil narrative. It was able to bring the series back to its survival horror roots, in contrast to some of the more action-oriented titles that came before it.
The Baker mansion was truly a den of evil, and its maniacal residents left their mark for being some truly terrifying characters. For all that it did, Resident Evil 7 was arguably well-received and series newcomer Ethan Winters became a new face that fans will remember, even if he technically never had a face to show.
The new direction looked like a winning formula for Capcom, so it was natural that the developers would tread familiar ground while expanding on what made Resident Evil 7 a hit. The result is a new entry into the series cleverly titled Resident Evil Village, and you can bet it’s a must-play for longtime fans of the series, as well as anyone who enjoys survival horror in general.
Welcome back, Ethan Winters
Ethan Winters returns as the playable protagonist in Resident Evil Village. Taking place 3 years after Resident Evil 7, Ethan and his wife Mia have settled into a home in Europe and have been blessed with a new addition to the family, baby Rosemary Winters.
The Baker mansion incident is now but a memory, but one that Ethan can’t simply forget. Their seemingly peaceful night comes to an abrupt end as a squad led by Resident Evil mainstay Chris Redfield, takes the baby from Ethan.
This series of events leads Ethan to an abandoned village overlooked by the mysterious Mother Miranda and her four Lords. And so, Ethan Winters now embarks on a dangerous mission to retrieve his infant daughter, solve the mystery of the danger-infested village and its Lords, and figure out if there’s any meaning behind Chris Redfield’s actions.
Resident Evil Village starts out with a bang and raises the stakes even further, all within the first hour of the game, and it isn’t hard to see how and why Resident Evil Village is a treat for longtime fans of the series.
Another place, another family
Village’s cast of monstrosities are a diverse bunch, with some even being quite pleasant to the eyes. After the Bakers, it’s a whole new family that Ethan has to deal with, namely Mother Miranda and her four Lords.
Alcina Dimitrescu is certainly quite the character, and one that the Internet has fallen in love with, but at the end of the day, she’s just one of the many enemies you’ll fight in the game, with 3 other comrades you need to deal with.
The other lords – namely Heisenberg, Moreau, and Beneviento, are just as terrifying as Dimitrescu. Though in terms of character and staying power, they aren’t exactly the most memorable villains in the Resident Evil franchise as a whole. Even the Bakers from RE7 don’t hold a candle to the impact that a certain Albert Wesker has, but they are particularly memorable for the pain they put Ethan through in the previous game.
In Village, it was great how notes and files scattered around the game tell you more about each Lords and their life in Village, especially in how miserable they made the lives of the villagers. Once you finish a Lord’s area though, they become a fleeting memory overtaken by your anticipation of the next Lord to cross on your list.
Village generally retains the gameplay experience from Resident Evil 7, but it expanded on so many aspects and made some convenient changes. For starters, the game is still played from a first-person perspective putting players literally into the shoes of Ethan Winters. It may be an unpopular opinion, but this change in perspective was really a bold step for the better as far as Resident Evil is concerned. The scares and tension feels more intense, since you won’t be able to see everything that’s happening around you. It worked for Resident Evil 7, and it definitely still works for Village.
Scope is also one of the aspects expanded upon in Village. 7’s Baker mansion was a claustrophobic and terrifying experience, and now in Village, you’re playground of terror consists of multiple venues like Castle Dimitrescu, the Beneviento House, Moreau’s Reservoir, and Heisenberg’s Factory, with the titular Village serving as your central hub.
When one thinks of a central hub in a game, it usually serves as your sanctuary where you can relax and manage your resources. Village actually changes things up a bit, locking up several sections which you’ll need to backtrack to as you progress through the game. The Village, in a way, grows with you, encouraging you to explore it and find all its secrets. Village also subverts the concept of a central safe hub because occasionally, enemies too can be encountered within.
The various areas you explore in Village also offer diverse experiences. In contrast to one mansion, you’ll be exploring a variety of settings, each with its own unique look and feel that reflects the personalities of Mother Miranda’s twisted Lords. One area, in particular, felt a bit too stretched out, which broke the pacing of the game to some degree. There are even optional areas that you can visit – not necessary to finish the game, but worth visiting for the rewards that will help you on your journey.
Where RE7 lacked in monster variety, Village addresses this, featuring a more diverse bunch of meanies very eager to take Ethan down. New to Village are Lycans – feral like creatures that are not only fast, but also very aggressive and can use weapons.
Zombies also make a bit of a return here in the form of the Moroaicǎ. They move like your regular Resident Evil zombie, only they can wield weapons. There’s even a flying variant called the Samca that look like weird human-gargoyle hybrids that fly in grounds and are just as aggressive.
Got a selection of good things on sale, Ethan
Ethan will come across a wide variety of weapons and resources that will help him in his search for his missing daughter. Guns of different varieties can be picked up, and crafting makes a return as you can once again pick up materials like chem fluid, gunpowder, herbs, as well as new items like scraps to make your various ammunition and healing items. Even better is the overhauled inventory system, which made a change for the better.
Crafting materials no longer take up space in the main inventory, and has its own section where it’s easier to keep track of. Your inventory also takes on the form of a grid, where you have to do a bit of “Tetris” here and there to make everything fit.
You can also expand your inventory now thanks to the Duke, a brand new character in Village that is more than happy to lend you his services for a price. Throughout the game, you can pick up money called Lei, which you can also get from selling the numerous treasures scattered around. It does sound and feel very familiar, and if you’re thinking of Resident Evil 4, then you’re not the only one.
Resident Evil Village actually borrows a lot of elements from Resident Evil 4, with one of the biggest ones in The Duke, who will offer services ranging from selling items, to upgrading your weapons as long as you can pay.
Also like Resident Evil 4, various treasures are hidden throughout the game, some of which can be combined to form an item that is sellable for a significant higher price, encouraging side trips throughout Village. Luckily, your map is now more helpful, bringing back a mechanic from the RE2 Remake that shows you if you’ve “completed” an area or not by marking it blue.
The Duke is not just a merchant but also a cook that can provide Ethan permanent bonuses in exchange for livestock. These dishes have various effects like increasing your maximum health, or reducing the amount of damage you receive when guarding against attacks.
Puzzles are reduced to a degree here in Village. Gone are the shadow puzzles from RE7 and in its place are more simple ones for players to solve. Often times it’s the usual matter of finding this and putting that there, but there are also optional puzzles you can do in the form of these miniature structures where you need to find a ball to activate them and guide said balls to a goal.
Not scary at all, you say?
Village may not feel as hauntingly claustrophobic compared to the Baker Mansion, but the game still manages to terrify players, even when it set often during the day. The game succeeds in implementing enough action gameplay elements from Resident Evil 4, all while carving out its own identity as a survival horror game. Some of the fears was that the game would lose its identity, owing to the fact that it takes on a more action-based approach, but this is far from truth, and Village balances both out pretty well to offer an experience that is definitively Resident Evil.
While playing the game on a PlayStation 4, there were moments of sudden pop-ups where one minute you’d be walking towards a graveyard and a few seconds later a pair of Lycans would suddenly appear feasting on a corpse. The game performs rather admirably, even in the base PS4 console, but the full Village experience really shines on the newer hardware.
Resident Evil Village is a stunning game on the current-gen hardware. Each setting really comes to life with amazing detail that greatly adds to the atmosphere. Similar to the PS4, there are some texture pop-ins even on the PS5, but these are not immersion-breaking, and is something that can be overlooked in the grand scheme of things. There are also a few frame drops in the game, but overall it holds up to a steady 50-60fps. Loading times are almost non-existent in the PS5 version, only taking a couple of seconds before you’re in control of Ethan once again.
While the haptic feedback in the game isn’t anything to write home about, Village takes advantage of the adaptive triggers, putting in various resistance levels to certain weapons when firing them.
But wait, there’s more
Mercenaries makes a triumphant return in Village, and it’s just as fun as you remember it from the previous games. Mercenaries has you fighting off a horde of enemies within a time limit before you move to the next area. You’re then rated at the very end based on time, money, and enemies killed.
Unique to Village’s Mercenaries are the abilities, which can be found by breaking the scattered blue orbs in the area. These can range from increasing your knife damage, to reducing enemies while guarding, to even increasing your damage in exchange to reducing your movement speed, giving you an edge in battle.
Abilities are random, which gives players a unique experience per run, adding a level of strategy wherein you need to make do with the abilities you have on-hand. You can say there’s a bit of character building involved every time you play a round of Mercenaries, which really makes this quite the addition to the already great experience that the main game provides.
What we liked:
- Expands greatly on Resident Evil 7, with a compelling enough story to see through to the end
- Horror elements are effective, with a good blend of action
- Gameplay elements from Resident Evil 4 fit in nicely.
- Mercenaries is fun and challenging.
- Diverse enemy designs.
What we disliked:
- Some bosses are not as memorable compared to the Bakers.
- Some areas feel a little stretched out.
Verdict: Buy it!
Resident Evil Village is lightning striking twice for Capcom. Resident Evil 7 was a return to form for the series, and Village maintains the momentum, borrowing elements from previous titles and making it a unique experience that is terrifyingly fun from start to finish.
Mileage may vary, and the standard time to finish will be anywhere from 8-12 hours of gameplay (we finished it in 11), but Resident Evil fans know that there is much more to the game than just one playthrough. If you’re a fan of the Resident Evil series and survival horror in general, Resident Evil Village is most definitely worth a purchase. While the game shines the most on the current-gen hardware, offering almost zero load times and smooth gameplay, playing on the base consoles from the previous generation still offers an enjoyable experience that the series is known for.
*Resident Evil Village was reviewed on a PS4 Pro and PS5 via a review code provided by the publisher.