Review: Resident Evil Village
I find it hard to believe I’ve been playing Resident Evil games for 25 years. It seems like it was only yesterday when I was amazed/terrified by seeing a zombie slowly turn his head to face me after he’d munched on a bit of man flesh. How I shat myself when a group of hungry dogs jumped through a window intent on ripping out my throat. Where I learnt to mix a red and green herb together to make a super healing potion. (I should point out this doesn’t work in real life!) Or when Barry Burton saved me from being a Jill Sandwich! Ah the memories.
Debuting in 1996, Resident Evil was a monumental game which has spawned sequels, remakes, movies, toys, etc and I absolutely love it! A new Resident Evil game being released is a real moment of excitement for me and is usually a day one purchase.
We’ve been a bit spoilt over the past few years with some truly excellent Resident Evil games. In 2017, the series took a slightly different turn with the release of Resident Evil 7. Traditionally, Resident Evil games have had fixed camera angles or were viewed from a third person view. Resident Evil 7 changed this and was made entirely with a first-person perspective. Some purist fans may not have been happy, and despite my reservations Resident Evil 7 was a fantastic game! Now, I must admit my judgement is probably skewed a little bit, because this was the first time I experienced a Resident Evil game using VR. Taking advantage of PSVR to play the entire game was one of the most memorable and scary experiences I have ever had playing a videogame! I literally screamed out loud (twice) which gives you some idea of how scary I found it. If you ever get the chance to play this game with VR then I highly recommend it, but maybe give it a miss if you have a heart condition!
In 2019, we saw the release of the excellent Resident Evil 2 remake. Resident Evil 2 is one of my favourites in the series, so to see it beautifully recreated with state-of-the-art graphics was a real highlight. The following year another remake was released, this time Resident Evil 3. Again, I enjoyed my time with this, but Resident Evil 3 has never been one of my favourites in the series.
I love the remakes and would welcome Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica to be given the bells and whistles treatment, but I also thought it was time for a new entry into the series. Luckily for me, 2021 sees the release of Resident Evil Village, or Resident Evil 8 as it is also known.
Resident Evil Village picks up a few years after the events of Resident Evil 7. Don’t worry too much if you haven’t played 7, as there is a recap which brings you up to speed. Once again you play as Ethan Winters, but whereas you were searching for your wife in RE7, you are now looking for your kidnapped daughter.
This takes you to the Village in question. The whole set up reminded me a lot of Resident Evil 4, which isn’t a bad thing. There are other nods and winks to RE4, but I won’t spoil them. The first hour of Village is fairly scripted as you are introduced to some of the villagers and discover the terrible things that have happened to them. Once you are ‘let loose’ so to speak you discover the village acts as a hub which links to four separate areas. These are controlled by the lords of each stronghold who are also the bosses which you will eventually face. Resident Evil has always had bizarre (and quite frankly camp) characters throughout their history, and Village is no exception. Along the way you will meet Lady Dimitrescu, Donna Beneviento (and her puppet Angie), Salvatore Moreau and Karl Heisenberg. All of these report to Mother Miranda who rules over them and the village.
Exploring the Village is enjoyable as there are various puzzles and things to discover. Some areas are locked off until you return after completing one of the strongholds or find a certain item which opens a new area. Although the buildings and area look similar, I soon became familiar with my surroundings and didn’t have to rely too much on using the map. At their best, Resident Evil games keep you on edge because you see something in the background, and you know at some point it’s going to attack you. The tension comes from trying to figure out when it will happen. RE Village has a few of these moments, but not enough for my liking.
The strongholds themselves are a mixed bag. The best of them features some excellent level design, good number of scares and the right amount of exploration to keep you interested. Lady Dimitrescu lives in a castle which took me back to exploring the Spencer Mansion from the first Resident Evil game. The second level mixes things up and is a master class of creating abject terror. It’s been a while since I felt genuinely scared, and I may have pooped my pants had this level been in VR. These are probably the highlights as some of the later levels have instant deaths if you mess up which can be a bit frustrating. The focus also shifts towards more action as you reach the conclusion. Although these sections were fine, I lost a bit of interest as a lot of the tension was missing which had been built up in the opening few hours.
Resident Evil games helped to make zombies popular in a lot of videogames, but in RE Village, you face a Lycan threat. There are other monsters and creatures, but these tend to be the main enemies which hunt you. You initially start off relatively weak with only a pistol, but other weapons can be found and upgraded. Ammunition is sparse, but you can make your own if you find the correct ingredients. This is a double-edged sword as feeling weak helps to create a sense of peril, but when you get ‘tooled up’, you lose some of the tension which the game tried hard to create in the first place.
The graphics throughout are excellent, and if you own a decent PC, PS5, Xbox Series S or X, you can choose to add some extra shiny surfaces with ray tracing. Describing ray tracing as extra shiny surfaces is as far as my technical knowledge goes! Feel free to watch a Digital Foundry video for a more detailed breakdown of the graphics and performance. I played on a PS5 where the game runs at 60fps and is generally quite smooth with ray tracing turned on. I also had headphones on throughout my playthrough, and I would recommend this as the best way to play, especially as the sound design is fantastic. It’s worth mentioning the loading times on the PS5 (and I imagine the Xbox consoles are the same) as they are incredibly quick. RE Village on PS5 also takes advantage of the adaptive triggers on the Dual Sense controller. The tension in the triggers feel different for each weapon which overall helps to create an additional sense of immersion.
I completed RE Village in 10 hours 26 minutes. I played the game on normal difficulty and although I died a few times, I didn’t find it particularly difficult. I like to explore every nook and cranny so you may complete it a bit quicker than I did.
Overall, I really enjoyed Resident Evil Village. The gameplay felt good, the exploration and different locations were generally excellent. It did take me about an hour or so to stop saying to myself “I wish this was in VR”, but that’s only because I had such an incredible experience with Resident Evil 7. If anything, playing Village has made me want to go back to RE7 and replay it without VR to see how it matches up. On the negative side, the ending feels a bit rushed. It takes an action heavy narrative which is jarring compared to the beginning and middle section of the game as it throws lots of enemies at you repeatedly. It also wasn’t particularly scary except for one level. Saying that, Resident Evil Village was a lot of fun, and although it won’t feature in my top 5 Resident Evil games, I would still recommend it especially if you’re a fan of the series.
Review by Chris.
Resident Evil Village – Adam’s review
Well here we are, a few years on from Resident Evil 7 thrilling me to the marrow in my bones in VR we have the sequel, Resident Evil Village.
Can this sequel live up to my heady expectations and carry on the strong form, in my personal opinion, started from its predecessor in rebooting the franchise? Does the first person view work for me when playing in ‘flat o vision’? Is it scary? Has Ethan Winters become interesting? Are zombies a thing of the past?
These questions and others will be answered below, exciting isnt it?
Set three years after the moldy swamped adventures of Resident Evil 7 the player must again step into the shoes of faceless everyman Ethan Winters as he finds himself in various situations he is in no way capable of dealing with.
As a protagonist and window into the world for the player Ethan is not endowed with charisma or indeed much in the way of personality. It was like this in 7 and in Village he remains at best a character of perplexed determination as his main characteristic. Well that and an unusual ability to attract damage to his hands.
Yes indeed, Mr Winters hands attract all manner of teeth, blades, buzzing things, saws, fire, acid, hammers and rainbows….but not the rainbows. You would think by now some kind of gloves would be in order but apparently not.
Mild spoilers for the very start of the game ahoy in this next couple of paragraphs but no more than any of the trailers have given away.
We find our opposable thumb hater living ‘somewhere’ in Europe with his wife Mia and their cuddly new daughter Rose having escaped the Baker House following the events in Resident Evil 7. From the get go all is not well. Mia gets angry randomly and won’t talk about the past, Ethan gets frustrated in his dull lifeless way and Rose? Well she needs a nap.
The content bliss of living in the middle of nowhere and eating soup is shattered when angry old Resident Evil vetran and ex steroid user Chris Redield swoops into the house to kidnap Rose and turn Mia into a flesh puddle.
‘Why?’ exclaims Ethan with all the desperation of a man who has just burnt a crumpet.
For his troubles Ethan is given a whack round the head and also kidnapped by the now sinister Chris Redfield, he’s wearing black now don’t you know?
Would you believe it, this does not go well either, the van carrying napping Rose, unconscious Ethan and swiss cheese Mia is involved in an ‘incident’ and crashes.
With Mias body gone and Rose missing, poor Ethan wakes up on his own and finds his way to the titular village and the mystery of finding Rose begins.
End of spoilers
Much like Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil Village is essentially a hunt for a missing person only this time the person soils themselves and is less likely to chop your hand off.
The Village is the starting point as you try to fathom out the mystery of missing Rose and answer the question, what the hell is going on?
After a while the village becomes a hub of sorts to the 4 main areas you will be visiting on your quest leading to an inevitable showdown with the fabled Mother Miranda who is the head cheese of these here parts.
Along the way you will bludgeon and shoot your way, mostly, through these four regions with the odd puzzle, none of which are taxing. Each area is ruled by a lord who must be dealt with to move onto the next area.
The internet has lost countless buckets of bodily fluids over the lady mountain that is Lady Dimitrescu, with a perplexing silent ‘u’, who apparently has some vampire-esque tendencies. This 9 foot tall crusty sock maker lives in her castle with her three daughters and despite all of the pre launch focus only takes up a relatively small part of the game, which is a shame.
Three more ‘lords’ will be met along the way, some who are utilized quite well and others are in and out of the game far too quickly……
Hold on, this is becoming too disjointed, much like the game. So let’s stop and break down a few bits in an old school style.
Graphics: In many ways this is a handsome looking game, played on ps5. Lots of detailed environments, some wonderfully detailed character designs all whizzing by at more or less 60fps, for those of you who like that kind of thing. In comparison to its predecessor it loses, for the most part, the beautiful filth of 7 but gains some nice outdoor locations and superior lighting which in places is just lovely. In some areas it does have the whiff of a cross gen title in the texture detail close up but in others it is satisfyingly ‘new gen’ enough. Overall you would take it to the pub for a drink but maybe not splurge on buying it tickets to an opera.
Sound: Playing through headphones is the way to go if you can. The soundscape of the game is fantastic with lots of layers of noise happening and each sound sounding exquisite. Voice acting wise it’s very…….Resident Evil.
Apart from Ethan who sounds mostly dumbfounded in a bored manner every other character is full of hammy pantomime cheese. Every character has gusto in their performance but with this being Resident Evil the script is wonky and gusto isn’t always the best method of delivery. Fear is a hard emotion to build when your antagonists are giving a vocal performance akin to wearing a spinning bowtie and clown shoes.
Playability: You will walk, you will climb, you will shoot things, you will hurt your virtual hands and yes you will shoot some more things. Did I mention you will shoot things? In the face no less. You will occasionally puzzle your way out of a tight spot. You will find treasure to sell to an obese merchant and exposition spewer called The Duke. The Duke will sell you crafting recipes for ammo, he will sell you guns, blueprints, upgrades and other items useful in the art of shooting things in the face. You will traverse a village, obviously, a mansion like castle, naturally amongst other areas including mines, caves, swamps and a factory.
You will do this and it will be fun for the most part.
Lastability: It’s quite a short game by current standards. Not that this matters, a great short game for me will outshine a long slog any day of the week. You will however be going some if you are still struggling through Resident Evil Village for more than 10 hours. There are reasons to replay the game such as carrying over weapons and continuing to upgrade or earning xp style points to spend on figurines to gawp at, concept art – the usual stuff.
I have some more to whitter on about after this sort of conclusion where I will whinge like an old fart, but if I put that first then it may give the wrong impression…
Resident Evil Village is a tough game to nail down. As a game itself I enjoyed playing it. It looks good, it’s not complicated and is actually fun to play. The story when it happens, and as long as you don’t think about it, is fine. If you have a few evenings to kill there are far worse games to spend your time playing through. You will have fun, it has been designed that way. My main gripe with it is that no VR is supported. Resident Evil 7 in Vr is an all timer for me as far as experiences go. It’s not the best game in the world but in VR it was something special. I cannot lie, at almost every point in Village I was wishing it was in VR, it would have improved everything.
Pub Menu Rati…….. No not yet……
Good grief this game frustrates me, I need to moan about it. Please bear in mind that I did enjoy this game at the game level. It was an enjoyable playthrough as long as I thought about nothing in the game. Some spoilers ahead again, this is just going to be a thought dump.
- It’s not scary. There is one area in this game that certainly in VR would have made me wince in the anal area. Apart from that nope, not scary at all. The tone in general is muddled and if reports are to be believed this was purposefully made less scary than 7. Stupid idea in my opinion
- Ethan is not an interesting character. I have never felt anything towards his situation, never felt sorry for him and never cared about him. He is just dull and I am glad his story is now over.
- You know what I loved about old Resident Evils? Finding letters and stuff around that alluded to the bigger plot and grew the mystery. Whilst these still exist to a point it’s all ruined by finding a room just before the end of the game where the whole plot is just vomited at you. In one room. Lazy.
- I was looking forward to this as it promised, well hinted at, vampires and werewolves. Back in the days of having just completed the original game I wondered if that was zombies done. What if a sequel dealt with other monsters like vampires and werewolves and explained where they came from? My hopes for this game is that maybe we could explore where ‘monsters’ came from, where the myths started? Maybe it all tied into the Resident Evil universe. Nope, what we seem to have are odd coincidences and not my dream game
- Wasting and under developing characters. All of the media spunk spurted everywhere over a certain giant lady and she amounts to a rubbish version of Mr X from Resident Evil 2 who is gone after about an hour. What of the other lords? One is in it too much and is just obnoxious. The 2 remaining have roughly 3 mins of dialogue between them. They are under developed and not utilised at all as antagonists. One has a good, if not the best section, in the game but it’s over far too quickly. What do we learn about this lord? Sod all until you find the exposition room at the end of the game. Oh and what of the villagers? They all die at the start of the game.
- Capcom didn’t know what this game was. Let’s make it like Resident Evil 7? But what if that was too scary? Okay let’s make one bit of the game like that. Hey, people love Resident Evil 4! Cool we will make it very much like that only worse! What about Resident Evil 6? Let’s make it a bit like that, people loved all the shooting! Lets also make it very linear but at the same time sprawling! How does that work? Well it doesn’t. Hey! Let’s make small versions of mansions with keys and puzzles, but let’s make them really small so no one gets lost or has to think. I really think they had no idea which direction this game was going and it would not surprise me if all Village is, is four separate ideas for what Resident Evil could be stitched together with a hub area.
- The plot, its holes and its nonsensical bollocks. I have so many logic questions for this game, I shouldn’t as it’s a Resident Evil game but come on…….. Why was Chris’s plan so stupid? Why did he drive Rose towards the place where Mother Miranda lived? Surely driving her in the opposite direction would have been better? Why does Ethan’s sleeve heal? Why are there terminator things? Where are all those people coming from in the factory who are being turned? Who were all the werewolves? Why did the magnetic man build a weapon he couldn’t magnetize to be used against himself? How come he could then use his magnetic powers on it? Why was Rose chopped into bits? Why set up a new game just before the credits only to show a scene post credits that meant any sequel obviously goes okay and good wins? Why did Mirnda read a story to baby Rose that essentially detailed the plot of the game showing her demise?
Oh I could go on…… but I won’t. Well done of you have slogged to this point, pat yourself on the back with your severed hand you ‘Ethan’.
Pub Menu Rating: A delicious Pitt Burger with 3 beef patties, pulled pork, beef brisket, sausages, bacon, cheese, salad and a multitude of sauces. £30 but delicious.
But….. on your way out of the pub you notice the kitchen bins are full of empty food packets from Lidl.
2 days later…….. You still haven’t had a solid stool and your stomach is still making funny noises.
Resident Evil Village is out now for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S & X, PC and Google Stadia.