We’re not ones for horror games but everything we saw from Resident Evil Village captured our attention like Lady Dimitrescu and the internet. We built up the courage we found when we camped outside a dark wooded forest in our campervan and decided to give it a bite and it turned out being a delicious meal fit for a lycan, vampire, or shuffling zombie. Right away it throws you to the wolves, quite literally, and the action doesn’t slow, it’s absolutely feral and fun.
You play Ethan Winters, the protagonist from Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Thankfully you don’t have to have any prior knowledge of the previous game as Capcom has a recap option at the beginning of the game. Mr. Winters, as he’s referred to by just about every key villain in the game, is on a mission to rescue his infant daughter from the clutches of a cult and its mutated monsters. While Lady Dimitrescu may not lead the pack she certainly was a fan favorite even before the game released. She’s backed up by the crazed dollmaker Donna Beneviento and her demon possessed doll, Salvatore Moreau, the mutated biologist, and Karl Heisenberg the super Magneto fanboy with a penchant for controlling metal and a temper to boot.
Resident Evil Village is set in a remote village, hence the name, in the Romanian countryside. Although, the majority of it takes place outside of the village proper. Ethan’s search will see him explore a massive Gothic castle, an abandoned church, a genuinely creepy old house, a graveyard, dilapidated homes, and a sprawling factory maze. It’s all weaved together so stunningly well that venturing between each makes them feel they’re own specific game. One zone is set in the Medieval era with candlelit houses, while another is pulled straight from a science fiction film.
Village knows what type of game it wants to be and shifts from action horror to horror in an instant. One second Ethan is safe inside his new Romanian home and the next he’s fending off endless waves of lycan attacks in the village center. The action never runs dry or becomes stale which can be a mood killer. Constantly running around without much time to smell the roses on Lady Dimitrescu’s dress is exhausting. Moving from zone to zone is full of suspense and mystery as you never quite know what’s going to be around the next corner or inside the wooden outhouse – it’s always ammo.
When it comes to the terror scale, we’d say Village is on the higher end of the spectrum. It shifts from dense forests with a thick layer of fog to a deserted house that contains a possessed doll and the walking corpse of an infant child. Add on its wailing cries and moans of ‘dada’ and it’s clear Resident Evil Village knows how to turn up the fright level.
This is the Way
As with previous Resident Evil games, the world map is your best tool to finding your way around. Rooms are highlighted in red or blue to let you know if Ethan has explored them yet. Blue means all items have been discovered and to help ensure you get enough money or find extra items, lighting up the map blue is vital. Though, it can be time consuming and aggravating to search a place multiple times only to not find what it is your missing. Sometimes it could be staring you in the face while other times it’s hidden behind a locked cabinet and you’ll need a lockpick to open it. The map can also be confusing to read in general. Layouts of multi-leveled buildings can be hard to track as it can be hard to follow one from the next.
Village’s guns are hit or miss – no pun intended, really. The pistol is good for mid-range combat but lining up shots with any gun isn’t necessarily the friendliest of mechanics. We aren’t the best at first-person shooters, but auto aim certainly helped during our playthru. Playing on Mercenaries mode will help increase gun action as there are waves of enemies to unload on.
In the early hours of the game, knowing when to use or conserve ammunition and items is key. Ethan has his trusty pistol and can eventually upgrade it and find a shotgun, sniper rifle, machine gun, grenade launcher, and bombs. Each one is handy for different enemies and it isn’t too difficult to figure out which works best. Eventually, ammo becomes plentiful but near the endgame, it can dwindle to near nothing if you’re not careful about managing it. But friendly merchant Duke is always right where you need him if you’re looking to buy more gear.
Sound and Sights
As a horror game, sound should be used as a way to build tension and terror and Village doesn’t disappoint. Ethan’s breathing helps drive the anxiety he feels as he dodges sword wielding zombies – yeah, they carry weapons – runs through six foot tall wheat fields, and snipes gargoyle sized vampire bats. The creatures each have their own unique growls, hisses, and screams that carry through reverberating cellars and eventually you can tell just what’s coming to take a bit out of Ethan.
The voice acting, too, is superb. The cast is impressive and each one does a fantastic job at making each character feel real and alive. Even the dead ones. There are a few lines that feel out of place and may be a bit campy but they feel more or less like lines catered to reduce tension. Running from Lady Dimitrescu is tense. her shoes are near silent even for her 9’6″ figure and she always has a quippy response to seeing you slide past her. Whereas Heisenberg is a smooth talking suave figure that you can never quite tell what he’s thinking but he’s always got something on his mind.
There isn’t really much to say about Village’s views other than they are absolutely stunning. It is a beautiful looking game from its Gothic architecture to its rundown sci-fi factory. It’s simply breathtaking.
Aside from the internet losing their minds at Lady Dimitrescu, her design is a major reason she won’t soon be forgotten. Unlike characters such as Mr. X or Nemesis, Lady Dimitrescu has a genuine reason to chase down Ethan Winters. She has a vendetta against Mr. Winters and she haunts him throughout her castle because he is in her home.
In a similar fashion, each one of the four lords as they are referred to, has their own reason for attacking or toying with Ethan. Each one has a stake in the story and at no point does it feel like you’re running from simple zombies or a walking metal man with a hat. The villains have their own backstory and discovering what each one is makes for a satisfying narrative. They aren’t cogs in the machine, they’re people – or were once – that feel, have families, and histories. We love that each has their own personal motivation. It makes for a much better story.
Standard enemies also feature their own interesting looks, sounds, and attacks. Lycans are fast and feral, zombies are slow and dumb, full fledged wolves are terrifying and unpredictable, and Lady Dimitrescu’s daughters are engaging and astoundingly interesting. We just wish we got to spend more time with the Dimitrescu family. They don’t stick around all that long.
Resident Evil just wouldn’t be Resident Evil without its puzzle mechanics and Village is full of them. They aren’t overly difficult and each features some sort of guide to help you complete it. There’s opening locked doors with key items to moving around statues to flush out a bathtub of blood. The one issue we found is that not all of the clues are easy to locate. We did end up missing one but figured out the puzzle anyway.
And while not necessarily a puzzle, there are many areas on the map Ethan won’t visit as part of the main quest. Figuring out how to reach each of these locations is exciting and always ends with a reward. Whether it’s in the form of a new weapon, collectible item, money, or mini boss, exploring has its benefits.
Third Person Motion Sickness
When it comes to viewing the world of Resident Evil Village, it is only possible in First Person. While we understand the reasoning is because it’s more frightening, it definitely has its downsides. We both get motion sick and it can be difficult to play hours on end while focusing on Ethan’s hands – though the villains seem to care about them more than he does. The endless swaying back and forth motions can be overwhelming and we had to put down the game for a day and pick it back up the next. Opting for a Third Person view would be appreciated.
Verdict: Resident Evil Village is a great blend of action and horror. It features just the right amount of terror and action and has a powerful story as well. The views are epicly gorgeous, the sound drives suspense, voice acting is great, and it offers numerous hours of replayability. Aside from a few minor things like its First Person view and its nonstop action, it’s definitely worth picking up.