It’s time we discussed the latest instalment in a well known and mostly successful franchise (which is one of my favourites!). This entry being the latest story to follow Ethan Winters in Resident Evil Village, or Resident Evil 8 if you prefer. What a short ride it was, but it was a great game overall with very few low points and I was hooked from the start. In short, this entry plays as though the fourth and seventh games had a baby and this was the offspring. Right from the start, there are influences from Resident Evil 4 in the art style chosen and the settings themselves. Mixing that with the better told story elements of the last entry and its combination of horror and action, and we have a perfectly mixed drink.
Ethan from the off loses Mia again and this time, as well as his daughter, he is taken too. However, that doesn’t quite go to plan as his vehicle is attacked thus giving him the chance to escape and go on the hunt to find his daughter Rose. I don’t want to spoil the story so I won’t say too much about it, but what I will say is that unlike most previous entries, it really does throw some great twists along the way and we finally get to understand how Umbrella is linked in this entry. It surprised me and I didn’t see it coming at all. This was great as it’s rare a franchise as long as this is can still throw surprises in. The story’s pacing is done well as it moves quickly whilst not overloading you. We get the impression the shop seller, known as Duke, knows a lot more that’s going on than initially let on, which gives an interesting thread from the start. I will say however, you will get so much more from the story by playing RE7, so if you haven’t played, then I strongly suggest you do before playing this.
Throughout the game you will need to defeat 4 Lords, each having a different area of the village. As you find out early on, they all work for a villain known as Mother Miranda. The first one who we all referred to as tall vampire lady prior to release is known as Lady Dimitrescu. Her part of the game is probably the best bit and it happens at the start. As it turns out, each lord has an item you need to get before you can reach the final part of the game. In Dimitrescu’s case, we get to explore her castle whilst being hunted by her three daughters, as well as Dimitrescu in some parts which creates some great tension. The castle is very well designed and you start to find out more story elements as you progress. This is done in the classic resident evil way – in files that you come across, and later hear part of the a phone call she has with mother Miranda. We also have a part in which mother Miranda starts to stalk you herself, which links back to how it was done in RE2 and RE3 with Mr X and Nemesis respectively. That element is brief though, which I found was a good thing. The daughters are also creepy in their own way, which in part is due to how they have been designed and how the characters act in the cut scenes. This makes the horror element stand out well overall.
When you defeat Lady Dimitrescu, you move onto Donna Beneviento (who has, what I would class as, the scariest part of the entire game by far!). This section really puts you on edge as you have to explore her house to obtain another object needed. I referred to her as creepy ass doll during my playtime as it just made me feel off. In this section, you’re mostly playing hide and seek with it and avoiding a monster. It plays on the horror element perfectly, as up until you need to fight, you have no guns here leaving you feeling beaten from the get go. It also has a few puzzles within the section you need to solve, however like every puzzle in this entry, they’re barely even a challenge. The answer always feels right next to you or stands out far too easily which is a bit of a shame.
The first two sections have the perfect length I found. They don’t out-stay their welcome and they advance the story whilst showing us Resident Evil Village can still do horror and throw in scares when needed. The next two lords add more action elements to it, which I didn’t mind too much, but it’s a sharp change, so it does feel like it changes unexpectedly. The 3rd lord we face is a fish guy! No seriously, he does have a name – Lord Moreau. Now I know you may end up thinking “he doesn’t look like a fish” and you’d be correct. He might not, but like every Resident Evil game, its bosses have to mutate into something larger, uglier and meaner, and he does just that as you play through his section. This starts off by going through some mines and then into what appears to be a lake with huts scattered around, but these are all in ruin. He is the lord that’s not very highly thought of and the virus certainly didn’t agree with him as well as it did the others. This section steers away from the horror factor and leans into the action side more, which isn’t a bad thing as it creates the balance I mentioned previously. The entry’s combat is also a lot of fun! The combat works very much like the last game.
The final lord we have is Lord Heisenberg. Unfortunately, this is the part I found a little disappointing. The guy has the ability to control metal objects – essentially, he is Resident Evil Village’s equivalent to Magneto from X-Men. The problem is that Heisenberg should’ve been more interestingly done I felt. His section in a factory also drags on too long and the game loses some of the balance here as the pacing takes a dip. It’s also action heavy, just like the fifth entry was. We even get a RE5 reference in this part, so listen out for it! It did make me chuckle. His boss fight mutation also is a bit rubbish compared to the others. Based on his powers, it could have been done far better! He uses them in the fight, but in the most predictable way, which is a shame. The character comes off as cocky and arrogant, which makes sense but you’re left feeling that there could’ve been more done with him.
Now this wouldn’t be a Resident Evil game if we didn’t have collectables. During each part, you will always return to the central Village as you have a ton of stuff to find from weapons, gems, upgrades and resources, such as ammo and meat. Yes, I really do mean meat as Village has a crafting system, so you can kill animals for their meat which can be used to upgrade your health or your guard ability for example. The crafting system is used throughout the game as you will always be crafting ammo or first aid items, so it’s worth searching the game for the resources as you will need them. As mentioned earlier, we have a character called Duke who is our shop keeper. This is where you can sell your treasure, which ranges from gems or skulls of the monsters you kill. He is interesting in himself and worth visiting regularly to increase your arsenal. I strongly suggest upgrading item storage first though!
Of course, I need to mention the combat in Resident Evil Village a little more as, whilst it is fun, it’s also got a great feel to it. We are limited to only having four weapons on our quick select, which I still enjoy as it keeps the feel of the series. The general enemies you face are Werewolves or Lycans, depending on what you wish to call them. We later have vampires, although they certainly are the least interesting or intimidating enemy. The Lycans are fun to face and can easily swarm you, which makes it a bit frantic in places so the combat moves along nicely. Plus, it’s fun blasting them in the face with a shotgun when they come too close for a nibble, and they certainly like to chow down on Ethan’s hands! His hands are the most attacked part of him in both entries, Capcom really don’t like them!
Over all, I really enjoyed this entry. I clocked in at 7 hours and 28 minutes and I recommend it to everyone. Resident Evil Village pushes the franchise forwards and creates two story points that could be big changes to the franchise as a whole, so I’m interested to see what Resident Evil 9 will bring in the future. The length is typical of a RE game, which to me isn’t a bad thing as the game is brilliant! Also like every other RE game, it’s designed to be replayed. If you go for the PC version (as I have here) the modding community have already been at the usual silly mods on PC. Make sure you do stay for the epilogue in the game, and Ethan’s face is still a mystery…
Resident Evil Village is out now on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox S|X and Xbox One for around £50 depending on platform.